Whenever Melanie Kenler leaves her home in Delta with her miniature poodle Louie, she brings pepper spray.
It’s a habit she’s gotten into since her other poodle Fergus was attacked and killed by a PIT BULL in their neighbourhood last month.
The dog came running out of an open gate, towards her husband, who was walking their two dogs.
“There was nothing my husband could do,” Kenler said. “The pit bull charges, grabs Fergus, shakes him holding him. Ron’s beating on him to try and get him to stop. It’s like hitting a brick wall.”
The attacking dog finally let go after a passing car honked its horn, but by that time it was too late.
Fergus had suffered life-threatening injuries. The 14-year-old dog’s spine was crushed, and his breathing was laboured.
“He was so badly broken,” Kenler said.
The family had to put the poodle down.
The owners of the pit bull paid the Kenler family’s vet bill and an $800 fine, and they have registered their dog as dangerous. But Kenler says that’s not enough.
“There should be like a $5,000 fine, and the dog should be euthanized,” she said.
Kenler said the owners of the dog that attacked Fergus are kind people, and filled with remorse over the situation, but she believes they were unaware of their dog’s capacity for deadly violence.
“With these dogs, the potential is there,” she said. “If you have a loaded gun, the potential is there. I need a license to get a gun, but anyone can get a pit bull or one of these vicious dogs.”
The dog’s owners did officially register it with the municipality as a “pit bull” before the attack, according to Hugh Davies, manager for property use and compliance for the Corporation of Delta.
"I don't think it would be appropriate that in every case when there's an attack between two dogs to automatically put the dog down,” Davies said of Kenler’s suggested bylaw. “There needs to be some sort of hearing in the courts, they need to hear that."
Delta will, on occasion, make an application to B.C. Supreme Court for a “destruction order” on an animal, but that’s generally not done after a single attack, Davies said.
In this particular case, the pit bull had no prior history of aggression, and was not deemed to be a threat to humans - factors that would typically dissuade a judge from issuing a destruction order, he said.
Kenler said that needs to change. She believes any dog - of any breed - that kills another dog should be put down.
“I’m talking about those laws not just for pit bull owners,” she said. “If my dog all of a sudden snaps and kills another dog, then I should have to put my dog down - as I would - and pay my fine.”