Winnipeg police and animal services have clarified some details about a vicious dog attack on the weekend.
Three people were sent to hospital early Saturday morning after an attack by a group of dogs outside the Capri Motel on Pembina Highway.
Two of the dogs were put down that day and the other two, including a puppy, are in the custody of animal services.
The initial police report described the animals as pit bull-mastiff crosses, but that description was later changed to suggest the breed may have been American bulldogs.
Early in the day Monday Leland Gordon, COO of Winnipeg Animal Services, told 680 CJOB there was still some uncertainty over the breed.
Later in the day a city spokesperson said the surviving adult dog has been confirmed to be predominantly an American Pit Bull Terrier, which is on the city’s list of prohibited dogs.
She said the dogs that were put down won’t be examined, and the puppy is too young to make a breed confirmation.
Animal Services is continuing to investigate.
“We’re going to continue our investigation to see what are we going to do with the remaining dog that’s still alive, which is an adult, and then we also have a puppy. We don’t believe that puppy was involved whatsoever,” said Gordon.
A ban on pit bulls in the city of Winnipeg came into effect in 1990 after a series of attacks that left people with serious injuries.
The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw says you can’t even have a dog with the appearance or physical characteristics of a pit bull within city limits.
Anyone caught with one of the prohibited animal breeds could be handed a $1,000 fine.
The victims of the attack – including the dogs’ owner and an acquaintance – are in hospital dealing with what police called “severe, life-altering injuries.” Gordon said animal services is hoping to speak with the owner to get more information about the dogs this week.
Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver said Saturday’s attack wasn’t random.
“I was looking on social media and I see people were questioning about packs of wild dogs,” said Carver.
“These weren’t packs of wild dogs – these dogs were part of a family of dogs, all four of them, and it looks like they attacked their owner as well as someone their owner knew.”
Carver said deciding to put down the two dogs at the scene was a very difficult – but necessary – decision for police.
“I just want to paint a very clear picture that our officers don’t take this very lightly. Some of the most dedicated dog managers you’ll ever find are our K9 officers, who work years to get into our unit,” he said. “No officer would ever put down a dog with any other option.”
Animal Services tracks dog bite complaints and those numbers show 240 reports last year, 248 in 2018, and 236 in 2017.
But the kind of attack seen this weekend, said Gordon, is incredibly rare, and police and animal services have an idea of what may have caused it, but were unable to provide any specifics at this time.
“It’s important that the community understands it’s not just random dogs that were running in the community and just attacking people,” he said.
“In a broad sense, there’s lots of things people can do as pet owners to make sure dogs are friendly. It’s very rare that dogs would attack their own owner.
“None of these dogs were spayed or neutered, none of these dogs were licensed – that doesn’t help the situation when you have, essentially, a pack of owned dogs that are running together.”
Gordon said owners have a big role to play in shaping their pets’ behaviour – and that dogs exposed to violence or criminality while they’re being raised can learn from their owners.
“A lot of times, how a dog behaves is how it’s raised in our community,” he said.
“It’s important when we get dogs – no matter what kind of dog – that we become responsible owners, that we ensure that we use all those tools to make sure that our dogs have a good life and a positive outcome.”
A Winnipeg dog trainer said how you raise your dog will have a lot to do with how aggressive it is.
Andrew Din with Back to Pack Rescue told 680 CJOB that instead of trying to dominate your dog and use canine social dynamics in training, treat them as you would a person.
“The key for relationships – just like it is with humans – is building a relationship on communication and on trust,” said Din.
“If we start to form that relationship with the dog, what’s going to happen is the dog’s going to see that environment as a loving and trusting place, so they’re going to give that off.
“If we use dominance and we’re using pain to train them, they’re going to see the world as a hostile place.”