Dog owner accountability necessary, says resident

Published: October 18, 2017


One local resident is looking for greater accountability when it comes to animal vaccinations after a summer incident left a close family member with a compromised immune system.

Appearing before municipal representatives during the Committee of the Whole meeting on Oct. 10, Denise Spence told those gathered her grandson had to be treated for rabies exposure after a bite from an unvaccinated dog.

“Ignorance about what to do is why my grandson had to go through this ordeal,” said Spence describing the events of July 17 when grandson Troy was bit by a dog while visiting friends in Madsen.

“Troy was taken to the hospital for his wounds one of which required stitches. That same day the dog was shot by the owners so therefore Troy had to endure a series of painful needles. Troy has a terminal disease and this makes me more adamant for change to happen.”

Spence says had the dog been apprehended and quarantined definitive evidence could’ve been gathered on the health of the dog.

Bylaw Enforcement Officer Beth Sullivan says protocol in cases of suspected rabies is to notify the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) who organizes quarantine and observation for the animal for a 14-day period either in the owners home or at the municipal dog pound.

Rabies is disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) of humans and mammals. In Canada rabies is most commonly transmitted by wildlife such as foxes, skunks, bats and raccoons. According to the NWHU website since 2014 the organization has submitted five animals for rabies testing with all testing negative.

Spence says there is more the municipality can do to protect residents, including requiring pet owners to show proof of vaccination before registration, a protocol between the hospital and the municipality and more public awareness of the consequences of unvaccinated animals.

“Children with Troy’s disease do not go into a hospital in Toronto or Winnipeg or even attend schools without updated vaccinations yet dogs go without. Is there not a law stating that dogs must be vaccinated,” she added.

Responding to the discussion Mayor Vinet agreed that the issue was one of importance.

“I think it’s incumbent on any society, let alone Red Lake, that we always put the risk of people ahead of animals,” said Vinet suggesting a bylaw review might be necessary.

Councilor Fred Mota took it a step further suggesting pet owner accountability could be re-enforced through municipal process.

“If we look at something where dog owners come in for their renewal tags and also have accompaniment of their vaccination so there could be a quick reference.”

Officials agreed to review existing bylaws and use municipal communications resources to promote the importance of animal vaccinations.

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