A recent attack on a four-year-old girl by a pit bull in White Rock has one family calling for a ban on the dog breed not only for the city itself, but for B.C. as a whole.
Elizabeth Cranford was over at a friend's house on Thursday, Aug. 23 for a summer barbecue when her daughter, Emma, was suddenly attacked by a family friend's pit bull.
"Basically my daughter walked behind the dog when it was with its owner and with that the dog made a growl and basically latched onto her neck," said Cranford. "It just attacked her, unprovoked."
Cranford's brother was nearby and he was able to pull the dog off the child, but not before the damage was done.
"It looked like a shark bite," recalled Cranford, getting choked up. "At first, I thought it was just some scratches on her face but my brother removed his hand from her neck and then I saw the damage."
Emma was rushed to B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver where she underwent a two-hour surgery before emerging with about 40 stitches running down the side of her face to her neck.
The dog in question, a two-year-old pit bull, was put down the following day and now Cranford would like to see the breed banned at all levels of government.
"I used to say, 'Give pit bulls a chance,'" said Cranford, noting that Emma and the dog had spent time together countless times beforehand. "My brother's girlfriend raised this dog from a puppy and she's a good owner, and my brother is amazing with dogs, so this makes me think it has to be the breed."
Currently, pit bulls are banned in all of Ontario as well as Winnipeg.
While White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin was unavailable for comment following the incident, Coun. Helen Fathers said she sympathized with the family.
"I would be doing the same. I have a little girl who's eight and if anything like that happened I'd be calling for the same thing," said Fathers. "I don't blame her at all."
However, when it comes to talks of a potential ban in White Rock, Fathers said the issue would likely come up once council resumes from summer break in September.
"Emails have already been coming in to us but we are on break right now so we haven't even had a chance to even talk about it as a group," she said.
"I would imagine because of everything that's happened, we will have a discussion once council is back."
Over at the BC SPCA, Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations, said she was shocked to hear about the attack, but noted banning the breed is not the solution.
"The BC SPCA, like most animal organizations, don't support breed bans because they don't work, they just give people a false sense of security," said Chortyk.
"Our position is that municipalities really need to take the issue of dangerous dog behaviour seriously because breed bans have been proven ineffective."
According to Chortyk, while the dog's owner may have been a good owner, traits like aggression can be bred into a dog, but that's something that isn't breed specific.
The issue, said Chortyk, is knowing how dogs were bred and making sure breeders are doing things properly.
"So we really need to look at bylaws that address breeding standards," she said. "There are programs that address dangerous dog behaviour in every breed."
But for Cranford, that isn't good enough. She wants to see the breed banned, and said her view on pit bulls is forever changed.
"I will turn and walk the other way, probably run (if I see one again)," she said. "I never want to be around one again. I take my daughter to East Beach, we live right there and I take her to the off-leash all the time with my dog. I'm never doing that again.
"If we can save another family from going through this, that's what we're trying to do."
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