Victim’s mom: tougher action needed on dangerous dogs

Danielle Sweet and her son Dominic stand outside their home in Davidson.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — Without another word, Danielle Sweet dropped her phone, ran out the door and hopped in the car.

There was no stopping her.

She’d been told her son, 12-year-old Dominic, had been bit by a dog. For the moment, she didn’t need to know anything else.

“He’s my baby,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew he got bit.”

Dominic had been playing in the yard outside a friend’s house on Grant Street when someone opened the door, allowing the dog inside — a pit bull-mastiff cross, about two years old — to slip out.

Within seconds, the dog had chased Dominic out of the yard. A man quickly managed to pin the dog, but not before the damage was done.

By the time his mother arrived, a neighbour had driven Dominic to the Davidson Health Centre. He had been bitten twice — once on his upper leg, and a second, deeper bite on his right arm, just below his elbow.

Danielle said her son was treated by Dr. Lang, receiving multiple stitches, inside and out.

More than a month after the Aug. 15 incident, Dominic’s arm is healing, slowly but surely.

“It only hurt for the first couple of days,” he said last week, pulling back his sleeve to reveal the fading but still visible scar.

Danielle said she’s still frustrated and angry about what happened, as well as what she called a slow response by local officials.

“I don’t want people to get hurt,” she said. “It’s not right. If they can’t control their animals, then they shouldn’t have them.”

A number of recent dog attacks have prompted Davidson town council to revisit the town’s animal control bylaw.

Town councillors agreed that the bylaw should be revised to allow faster action on the town’s part when an animal is deemed a threat.

Speaking during Tuesday’s council meeting, Coun. Gord Cross said he’d like to see it strengthened, to “put some teeth in it.”

His colleagues agreed, including Coun. Jessica Foster, who said, “I have zero tolerance for that in a community that’s this size.”

Assistant administrator Donna Bessey told council that town employees have to adhere to the animal control bylaw when a complaint is received about a potentially dangerous animal.

This often requires a hearing, attended by a judge, to determine whether or not the animal in question is dangerous.

The process must be followed unless the animal attacks a person or another domestic animal, in which case the owner is guilty of an offense.

“We are doing what we can,” Bessey told council, adding that she wanted to see changes made “so we can move swifter on it.”

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