On Tuesday, Blossom De Bruin brought her 12-year-old dog, Jax, to Sutherland dog park. The pair would go several times a week. She thought Tuesday would be a normal afternoon walk.
“We had just entered the park and two bigger dogs came running accords and it just happened so fast,” said De Bruin.
She said she tried to pull the dogs — which appeared to be two pit bull-type breeds — off Jax.
“One of the dogs had him by the neck and the other one had him by the abdomen and that dog eventually lifted him up and shook him back and forth in his mouth and his abdomen ripped open,” she said.
De Bruin rushed Jax to the vet hospital, but his injuries were too severe and he died on the surgery table.
It still doesn’t feel real to her, she said.
“I saw him after he passed and I held him and I said goodbye,” she said.
“I know I saw him like that but I still expect to see him when I come into the house, and it’s still really weird to not have him around.”
De Bruin is a veterinary student at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. She moved with Jax from B.C. to finish her schooling.
“I’ve worked with animals and I’ve seen some pretty awful stuff but it’s just different when it’s your own,” she said.
Animal Control is investigating the incident. Under Saskatoon’s dangerous animals bylaw, the dog owner could have to muzzle and leash their dogs, or microchip them, and not bring them to off-leash dog parks.
They could also face a $10,000 fine and the Court could order the dogs “be destroyed or any other measure that it considers appropriate”, according to the bylaw.
Gerry Bonsal comes to the park with his dog, Claire, quite often. He heard about the attack.
“We commented when we came here, ‘This is as few cars as I’ve seen here in a long time,’” he said. “My wife was kind of tentative about coming here even though our dog is a little larger.”
He said if an owner can’t control their dog, they shouldn’t be coming to off-leash parks.
“Dogs run loose here,” he said.
“There’s a lot of children that are out here and they’re playing with dogs, dogs are running up to them, and if these dogs are as vicious as what appears to be … I am concerned about children’s safety here.”
Jason Boehr brings his puppy, Bella, to the park. He agrees owners need to get control of their animals before taking them to more public areas like Sutherland.
“If a dog is violent it needs to be leashed up,” he said.
De Bruin said she wants to make sure the dogs that killed Jax don’t come back to off-leash dog parks.
“I just think it’s really important to preserve these parks as a place that people and their pets can come and feel safe and have fun and not have to worry that your best friend might get killed right in front of you,” she said.
De Bruin remembers Jax as “the most versatile dog.” The pair would do many things together.
“He just wanted to be around me and that’s all that mattered. If I was there, he was fine,” De Bruin said.
“He didn’t care whether I was sleeping all day or whether we were hiking or even he flew on the plane with me a lot … he was just so calm because whenever he was with me that was all he ever needed.”
A Go Fund Me was set up for De Bruin to cover veterinary costs. It’s raised more than $5,700 as of Thursday afternoon.
The money will also go toward any legal fees against the other dog owner. De Bruin said she plans to seek damages. She’s also asking any witnesses to get in touch with her, or to contact Animal Control. Her case number is on the GoFundMe page.
Any remaining money will go to an emergency fund in Jax’s honour at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine to help cover costs for animals in emergent need of care who don’t have owners, or whose owners can’t afford it.