Editor’s note: This post has been updated to clarify a chain of events involving social media activity and information passed on to authorities leading to the city’s charges under a provincial act.
A Hamilton woman and her partner are hoping for more action from the City of Hamilton and local authorities addressing how dog attacks are handled after an encounter with a vicious animal on an Ancaster trail last week.
Tamara Dufour, 47, had to endure 30 stitches amid a nine-hour trauma centre visit after a vicious German shepherd bite on the Chedoke Radial Trail June 23.
Despite the City of Hamilton revealing a week later that the owner is facing three charges, Marcel Camposilvan, who witnessed his partner get “mauled,” believes more needs to be done to handle the aftermath of an attack.
“If this is the end and they’ve issued this order and that’s it, that’s just not enough for me,” Camposilvan told Global News.
Camposilvan said he and Dufour were cycling at Iroquoia Heights just after 6 p.m. when they encountered a man, who they believe was in his 60s, and his dogs on extendable leashes.
Dufour got off her bike and moved to the side to allow the dogs to pass, and one of them yanked away from its owner’s grasp and lunged at her, latching its teeth to her right leg.
“So she managed to hit the dog away, kind of like pushing it away with the bike,” Camposilvan said.
“As she kind of gets it away, I kind of start using my bike as a barricade, because the dogs are still freaking out.”
Dufour would turn to the man and ask for information following her injury, but left the area without a response since the owner appeared to not be in control of his animals, according to Camposilvan.
“He kind of just didn’t answer … just kept swearing at the dogs, trying to regain control, I guess,” remarked Camposilvan.
The pair called 911 requesting police and an ambulance and were told an ambulance would arrive shortly.
During the wait, a friend ran into the couple on the side of the road and learned of the attack.
The news would prompt him to begin the first of many social media posts that would ultimately help track down the unidentified dog owner.
Camposilvan made calls to police and animal services after arriving at the hospital to see Dufour.
He would later be contacted by a Hamilton Public Health officer requesting information regarding the dog’s owner, saying they needed it to launch an investigation.
After doing his own investigative work, aided by comments from Facebook and Instagram posts sharing his partner’s episode, Camposilvan would walk into a police station to make a report on Sunday.
A Hamilton Police detective notified them Wednesday that an investigation had officially begun.
Charges through Ontario’s Responsible Animal Ownership By-law 12-031 would be revealed by the city on June 30, a week after the incident.
The owner, not identified by authorities, is facing two offences of failing to licence a dog and permitting a dog to bite a person.
A spokesperson for the City of Hamilton says both dogs have been designated as “dangerous” under the bylaw, however, both dogs’ mandatory 10-day confinement is being left in the hands of the owner.
“Confinement is under the care of the owner unless Hamilton Public Health Services has reason to believe the owner is unable to confine the animal at home or the owner chooses not to confine at home,” senior communications officer Aisling Higgins told Global News in an email.
“Confinement includes limiting contact the animals have with anyone outside of the family home, no off leash dog parks, no groomers and veterinarian appointments only if necessary.”
Higgins said the nature of the confinement is the protocol to limit rabies exposure to the general public in case “the animal were to shows symptoms.”
Camposilvan said he and Dufour welcome the investigation and charges but are concerned with the amount of time it took to see action.
“The biggest thing was an initial frustration … in the first three days of trying to even get this reported to police and animal services,” Camposilvan said.
“Everyone was telling us, ‘Oh, we need you to find the owner’s name, address, licence plate,’ which is impossible, finding your attacker’s information.”