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Stiffer fees suggested for Calgary pit bull owners

WATCH ABOVE: Officials are calling for something to be done after a string of vicious dog attacks in Calgary. Jayme Doll reports.

CALGARY – The director of Animal and Bylaw Services is proposing an increase in licensing fees for certain dog breeds after five dog attacks occurred in Calgary within the last five days.

Three of the dogs involved have been pit bull types. In the most recent incident, a loose pit bull attacked a 14-year-old girl while she was walking to school.

“What we’ve seen over the last five days with five vicious dog attacks – predominantly with pit bulls – is that quite clearly there’s a public safety issue here,” says Animal and Bylaw Services Director Ryan Jestin.

“That specific breed has caused real damage over the last five days.”

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“My concern is… public safety, and what do we need to do to in order to ensure public safety is looked after,” adds Jestin. “Quite clearly, we have to take additional steps to make sure that owners understand the ramifications of owning a breed that may potentially harm somebody.”

“If you want to have a pit bull at home you can. But I expect that it’s going to cost you much more for licensing, it’s going to cost you much more in the event that there’s an attack.”

Jestin said he isn’t sure if Calgary should move towards an outright ban on pitbulls.

“I’m very concerned about pit bulls and rottweilers… there’s a reason why places like the city of Toronto have banned them outright,” said Jestin. “I am not necessarily suggesting that that’s the way we need to go here in Calgary.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi agrees that something needs to be done, but doesn’t seem to support a complete breed ban.

“I could be open to looking into stiffer penalties,” said Nenshi on Wednesday. “It’s been proven over and over again that breed-specific bans don’t work.”

All of the recent dog attacks happened on on-leash areas, on city streets, sidewalks or green spaces near the dog owner’s home.

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“I am talking about kids walking along a street, and being attacked by a dog that lives in that property or close to that property… to me, that’s the bigger public safety issue here.”

Charges have been laid in at least three of the five most-recent dog attacks.

Recent dog attacks in Calgary

  • Saturday, May 9th – Skyview Ranch – Dog killed by male pit bull – 2 charges laid – dog seized
  • Sunday, May 10th – Martindale – Dog killed by pit bull – 5 charges laid – dog at large
  • Monday, May 11th – Abbeydale – Two children attacked by Great Pyrenees – 5 charges laid – dog seized
  • Wednesday, May 13th – Rundle – German Shepherd cross and lab cross attack woman – 2 dogs seized
  • Wednesday, May 13 – Dover – girl attacked by pit bull – dog at large

Roughly 400 dog bites were reported in Calgary in 2013, while more than 500 were reported last year.

So far, Animal and Bylaw Services says there have been 15 dog attacks reported in 2015.

– With files from Jayme Doll and Jenna Freeman