11 days after biting 5-year-old, dog still at large
Published Tuesday, September 20, 2016 6:17PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, September 20, 2016 6:33PM EDT
Residents of a west Cambridge neighbourhood say they’ve considered a certain dog to be a nuisance for quite some time – but now the situation has turned into something more dangerous.
Michelle Hearn says the most serious incident occurred Sept. 9, on the Bob McMullen Linear Trail in Preston.
She says her five-year-old daughter Lauren passed by a man with “three big dogs” while cycling on the trail.
“One of the dogs bared its teeth, growled, lunged at Lauren, bit her in the leg and dragged her off her bike,” she says.
“She was on the ground screaming and bleeding, and the man with the dogs took off.”
Lauren Hearn ended up at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Because nobody knew for sure if the dog was vaccinated, the five-year-old was given what her mother termed a “horrific” series of injections.
Hearn says she initially called police, and was directed to the city’s animal control division – which told her they couldn’t do anything unless they knew where the dog lived or who it belonged to.
She eventually discovered that the dog lived at a home on Nelson Street.
She also learned that the dog had been involved in a dog-on-dog attack earlier this summer – as a result of which it was designated as a potentially dangerous dog.
Bonnie Deekon, the executive director of Cambridge Animal Services, says that meant it was supposed to be leashed and muzzled whenever it was out in public – but nobody knew if that was really happening.
“When we tried to follow up, the gentleman who owns the dog would not respond to us,” she says.
After biting Lauren Hearn, the dog – whose name is Vlad – was designated as a dangerous dog.
Again, animal control officers have had issues getting the necessary paperwork to the dog’s owner to inform him of the designation.
Officials say they’re waiting on a court order that will allow them to seize the dog, and don’t know when that will be granted.
“There’s nothing we can do until the courts are ready to do something to help us,” Deekon said.
Hearn says she wants to see something done immediately to ensure nobody else gets attacked the way her daughter did, but instead categorizes the authorities as doing “absolutely nothing” to help.
“Nobody is doing anything to get that dog off this trail,” she says.
The lack of action isn’t the only issue Hearn has with Cambridge’s animal control division.
She also says that she was told by an animal control inspector that the dog did not have up-to-date vaccinations.
Deekon doesn’t dispute her account of that conversation, but says the employee who provided that information will have to explain why they said that.
“I can assure her the dog is vaccinated,” she says.
Neighbours of the Nelson Street home say they’ve had issues with Vlad before.
They say their issues include the dog – and his owner’s other dogs – barking at all hours of the day and night.
“It’s always been a nuisance in our building for this poor dog to be crying at four in the morning,” said Steve Almeida.
Some residents of a nearby apartment building say they choose to avoid the most convenient entrance to their building, just so they can stay away from the dogs’ home.
Deekon says Animal Services Cambridge has received “dozens” of complaints about noise issues related to the dogs.
CTV Kitchener visited the dogs’ home on Monday. Although their owner had just arrived home, nobody answered the door.
With reporting by Abigail Bimman