A Calgary family is grieving the death of their pet Chihuahua that was euthanized on Saturday after they say a neighbor attacked it. Elvis Diaz says on Saturday afternoon his daughter opened the door of their Walden home when the small dog bolted out. He says Pinky approached a woman who was outside the house.
“The lady started to hysterically scream and was freaking out and running in circles,” said Diaz. “As she was running in circles, she tripped and she fell and Pinky was a close distance to where she fell and that woman grabbed the dog by the throat and she had a cellphone in her other hand and she started hitting Pinky aggressively on her head numerous times.” Diaz said the woman also struck the dog on the pavement and tossed the animal. He took the dog to the vet but it had to be put down that day.
Diaz ended up talking to the woman’s sister at their home a few doors down and was told that her reaction was due to bad experiences with dogs in the past.
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“We went to the woman’s place and I told her, ‘You just killed my dog,'” Diaz said. “She said, ‘My sister is very scared of dogs and she has had bad experiences before when dogs have attacked her.’ And I said, ‘That’s no excuse for you to kill my dog.’ Besides, she was such a tiny little dog and she wasn’t aggressive and she never has bitten anyone,” Diaz said.
Jill Dextrase is a professional dog trainer in Calgary and owner of Sit Happens. She says it’s understandable that someone who has had a traumatic experience with dogs in the past would be fearful.
“Fear will sometimes cause you to make a poor choice, or you’re not even making a choice, you’re just reacting at that moment out of fear. And usually when you’re afraid, you overreact and you’re going to run, scream and flail and do all of the things which are just going to add fuel to the situation,” Dextrase said.
She advises the best thing to do when approached by a strange animal is to “act like a tree.”
“Running, screaming or flailing typically will make the situation worse in all cases. So even a dog that just came up and was interested in a sniff, if you start running, screaming or flailing, what could happen is you may scare the dog or something called prey drive can kick in,” Dextrase said.
The Calgary Humane Society is investigating the case and says charges could be laid under the Animal Protection Act or the Criminal Code or both.
Brad Nichols — senior manager of animal cruelty investigations at the Calgary Humane Society — said if charges are laid, they would reflect whether the use of force was excessive.
“There’s certainly a level of force that would be appropriate in defending yourself and there is a potential to step over that line,” Nichols said. “In this case, whether there was a defence aspect and whether it was an appropriate defence.”
Global News tried to talk to the woman involved in the incident but she was not available. The Diaz family says she paid the $260 vet bill. They admit Pinky should not have been outside without a leash but maintain their neighbour’s reaction to the small dog was excessive.