It was a crisp day in October when Robert Barnes took Jelly Bean — his small shih tzu/Lhasa apso mix — to play at Grant Park in Abbotsford.
The pair visited the on-leash park almost daily before Barnes started his afternoon shift with a parcel delivery company.
But on this day, the visit turned tragic when a pair of collies that were not leashed attacked Jelly Bean while Barnes briefly stepped into the washroom. By the time he managed to get the collies off his 26-pound dog, it was badly injured.
“They just wrecked my dog,” he explained. “(It was) very upsetting.”
The owner of the dogs who attacked Jelly Bean drove along with Barnes to a nearby pet hospital and paid the $1,800 bill. But the attack left Jelly Bean blind and behaving strangely. Eventually, he had to put his dog down.
“I can’t keep him. This dog is in pain,” explained Barnes.
Months later, he’s still grieving the loss of his dog. “(He was) playful, fun to be with. I took him everywhere.”
When a dog attack is reported to the City of Abbotsford animal control, a file is opened and investigated.
If evidence supports the allegations, enforcement relating to the pound bylaw takes place. Officers will educate dog owners about bylaws and work with them to gain compliance. Enforcement can include fines, restrictions or seizure of the animal.
In this case, the two dogs that attacked Jelly Bean have been since deemed “dangerous,” which means they must now be muzzled and on-leash in public and at home they must be secured inside the house or in a secure enclosure in the yard.
Once a dog is deemed dangerous, officers make random checks to ensure the owners are in compliance.
Owners not following the restrictions can be fined $500 per offence and/or their dog can be seized.
Barnes wanted to share his story as a cautionary tale for other owners of small dogs.
“There are a lot of little dogs out there,” he said. “I want other dog owners to be aware and to just be cautious. Just to be aware of your surroundings.”
On Jan. 1, the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) became the new provider of animal control services for Abbotsford. Residents with questions about licensing or bylaw enforcement issues, such as barking complaints, off-leash infractions or aggressive dogs, can now call 1-844-495-CARE. For the next year while the transition occurs, residents can still contact the City of Abbotsford for dog licenses.
Dogs designated as dangerous by the city prior to Dec. 31 will continue to have the same restrictions imposed upon them under the new FVRD program.