Girl bitten by dog sent for rabies treatment due to communication breakdown
Published Wednesday, September 21, 2016 6:02PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, September 21, 2016 7:00PM EDT
An incident in which a dog bit a five-year-old girl wasn’t the first thing to put the dog in question on the radar of Cambridge’s animal control authorities.
The dog, whose name is Vlad, lives at a home on Nelson Street in Preston.
Earlier this month, he bit five-year-old Lauren Hearn, who was biking on the Bob McMullen Linear Trail, and dragged her off her bicycle.
Because it was not clear if Vlad had been vaccinated against rabies, Hearn was sent for a series of injections.
Officials with Cambridge Animal Services say they want to designate Vlad as dangerous, but haven’t been able to because his owner refuses to answer his door.
Instead, they’re working through the court system to force the designation through.
When it attacked Hearn, Vlad carried the label of being potentially dangerous – meaning it was supposed to be muzzled and leashed whenever it was out in public.
Vlad was deemed potentially dangerous earlier this summer, following a dog-on-dog attack. That designation, too, has never been official due to a lack of co-operation from the dog's owner.
But that wasn’t the first time this year the authorities had dealt with him.
In April, while riding on a different trail in the neighbourhood, Vlad bit then-12-year-old Seth Matthews in the hip.
Matthews says Vlad’s owner “didn’t say anything” and “just walked away.” Hearn’s mother says the same thing happened when her child was bitten.
After Matthews was bitten, Region of Waterloo Public Health placed Vlad in quarantine.
They determined that he had did not have rabies, but also that he had not been vaccinated against the disease.
Still, that discovery meant that Matthews didn’t need to take precautions to guard against rabies.
Vlad was given rabies shots after the attack on Matthews.
So given he had been vaccinated, why was Hearn’s mother told that there was no way to know if he had been?
A spokesperson for Region of Waterloo Public Health say Hearn’s mother called them, but somehow the message was never passed on.
“Certainly there was a breakdown in the communication and the reporting piece of it,” says Brenda Miller, the region’s manager of health protection and investigation.
Miller says the health unit has implemented “corrective measures”, and is still investigating to see if there is anything else they can do to avoid similar mistakes.
Since CTV Kitchener reported on Vlad Monday night, Animal Services Cambridge has received three new complaints from people claiming their dogs were attacked or confronted by Vlad.
Two notes were also left on the door of his owner – one asking him to contact the public health unit, and one asking him to contact Cambridge Animal Services.
With reporting by Abigail Bimman