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Dog seized after it attacks two

Bite victims treated in Royal Columbian Hospital

Authorities in New Westminster have seized a dog from its owner after it attacked two people.

The city's animal service officers are now investigating the incidents to determine what the dog's fate will be.

Lois Wager, one of the bite victims, was attending her daughter's soccer game at Moody Park on Sunday, Sept. 25 when her daughter and a teammate went to the public washrooms at halftime. Inside they found a woman with an aggressive American bulldog.

"(My daughter's friend) went into the washroom, and the dog lunged at her and bit her leg, so she punched it, and then it let go and bit her hand. My daughter went in because she heard screaming, and she opened the door, and the dog literally lunged at the door," Wager said. "She heard the lady say to her dog, 'You need to behave better.' The woman) left the girl in the bathroom, bleeding. My daughter went in and got her."

The girls told a group of parents what happened, and Wager followed the woman to the corner of Sixth Street and Eighth Avenue. She confronted the dog owner and told her she needed to come back to the soccer field. The woman refused and said she was going for coffee, Wager said.

Wager continued to follow and kept her distance while she reached into her backpack to find her cellphone and report the incident to police. When she looked up, the woman and dog had come back to confront her.

"The dog lunged and grabbed my stomach area. It just grabbed onto me, so I went to gouge its eye, and it grabbed onto my left hand. There was a lot of yelling, and, for whatever reason, the dog let go. She went one way, and I went the other."

Passersby called an ambulance for Wager. Both bite victims were taken to Royal Columbian Hospital to be treated.

"I had puncture wounds that couldn't be stitched. So we both got tetanus shots and got it treated with ointment. Mine's infected, so I'm going back and forth to the clinic to get it changed," she said.

Wager said she wasn't sure if she should even pursue the woman, but she worried someone else might wind up in the ER because of the dog.

"I was thinking, 'Should I be doing this?' and then, 'Wait a minute, there's a group of eight-year-olds playing soccer in the same field. A little kid could have gone in there," she said.

Wager said she isn't seeking any criminal charges or civil retribution against the owner, but she doesn't want the woman to have the dog back. Wager said she is also worried about what will happen to the dog.

"I was hoping it could be rehabilitated or retrained, but if it's an aggressive dog because of who it has been owned by, I guess they have to do what they have to do."

Nancy Miller, senior animal services officer, said she is still working with New Westminster police to determine what happened, and it will be some time before the dog's fate is decided.

"Everything is investigated. It can go in any number of directions. We have to ascertain whether any bylaws were broken in the first place - what were the circumstances that led up to the bite. At this point, we're still ascertaining what the outcome should be," she said.

Miller said if it is determined the dog is aggressive and unsafe, there is a process to follow for the dog to be put down.

"We would have to apply for a destruction order under the community charter, and it would be up to a judge to decide," she said.

Miller said animal services officers deal with this kind of incident often.