PORT HARDY—A local woman and her dog were attacked and injured by a pair of large-breed dogs while out for a walk on a residential street Sunday morning.
Deborah Crooks suffered puncture wounds on both hands and Sheila, her two-year-old Australian cattle dog/Border Collie mix, needed surgery for wounds to her neck and hind leg after two Cane Corso Mastiffs left their unfenced yard at the corner of Rupert and Hastings to attack the dog.
Crooks was injured as she tried to pull the larger dogs off her own animal.
“These dogs were just out to kill,” said Crooks. “The grey one had her down by the neck and the other went around me and grabbed her leg. They were trying to pull her apart.”
Sometime during the melee, Crooks said, Sheila slipped from her collar and leash and, when the other dogs let go, she ran down Hastings and disappeared into some bushes.
The owner of the mastiffs, who had been in her yard when the attack began, was unable to call them back and crossed the street to try to assist.
“We couldn’t pull (the dogs) off,” said Crooks. “It was horrible.”
The mastiffs are owned by Miranda Schulte on Hastings Street. Claudia Voth, who lives next door, witnessed the attack and came out to find Crooks bleeding.
“She told me I needed to get to the hospital, but I needed to find my dog,” said Crooks. While Crooks began a search down Hastings, Voth drove to the Crooks home on Sea View Drive and found Sheila had returned there and was bleeding on the home’s rear deck.
Voth then returned to drive Crooks to the emergency room at Port Hardy Hospital while Vince Crooks, Deborah’s husband, took Sheila to North Island Veterinary Hospital.
Deborah Crooks was treated for puncture wounds to the back of her left hand, which was still swollen two days after the attack, and given a tetanus shot and antibiotics. She said she was forced to take time off work from a job she had just begun weeks ago.
Sheila had a series of staples installed in a gash in her left leg and had drainage tubes placed in puncture wounds in the leg and on both sides of her neck. She was prescribed with antibiotics and pain-killers, and Crooks said the dog must be monitored so that she doesn’t lick or chew on her wounds.
“We can’t put a cone on her because of the locations of the wound on her neck,” said Crooks.
The incident began as Crooks was walking Sheila from her home on Sea View Dr. toward Thunderbird Mall. As she approached the area in front of the house at 8800, she saw three of the mastiffs in the yard with a woman, who had her back turned toward the street.
“The grey one stared us down, then it started stalking across the road,” Crooks said. “Sheila froze, and I stood still because I didn’t want to provoke it. When the woman turned around and saw, she yelled, ‘Oh, my God! Get back here!’ But the dog wasn’t listening. Then I knew we had a problem.”
The District’s Animal Control Bylaw has a provision for impounding animals who attack people or pets, but officials were still gathering facts and had not decided on a course of action as of Tuesday, when the Gazette went to press.
“A formal complaint has been filed with the District of Port Hardy and we are dealing with this matter in accordance with our Municipal bylaw,” Animal Control Officer Anika Kelly stated in a written release. “The District of Port Hardy is taking this situation seriously and is dealing with this matter expeditiously.”
The Crooks’ spoke with both RCMP and with the District of Port Hardy, and filed the written complaint with the District Monday.
“We’re aware of the situation, from a public safety standpoint, but since there is no criminal violation, we’ve left it with the District and their process with Animal Control,” said Brett Sinden of Port Hardy’s RCMP.
The written complaint is at least the second filed regarding animals at the Hastings St. address. On Dec. 4, 2012, Tami Kernachan of Port Hardy was walking her chocolate labrador retriever at the same area when, she said, one of the dogs left the yard and crossed the street to approach her dog in a threatening manner.
“I told them they need to have that yard fenced,” she said. “(The District) has to do something, now.”
Crooks agrees, pointing out Rupert Street is a major pedestrian thoroughfare linking the town’s business centre and residences both in town and Tsulquate Reserve.
“You shouldn’t have to be afraid to walk down the road,” she said. “But I won’t be going that way now.”