Justice for Coal

Family grieves loss of pet

By Lois Ann Dort    

SUNNYVILLE – A large dog was seen roaming free in the community of Sunnyville on Friday, July 13. Shortly after noon, the dog attacked a small dog, a 3-year-old Maltese Terrior mix named Coal, belonging to Emily Borden and family in its home yard.

A neighbour's dog ran to the defence of Coal but was too late. The attacking dog ran off into the woods leaving Coal lifeless on the lawn. Those that saw the roaming dog noted that it had a growth on its face perhaps caused by an infection which may have caused aggression in the animal.

Coal's owners quickly called the Municipality of the District of Guysborough dog catcher and local RCMP. Stephanie Surette, granddaughter of Borden, said in an online interview about the event, “The Guysborough RCMP and municipality responded quickly by sending someone out to inspect the deceased dog's injuries and also to locate the dog that did the attacking. They went to the house where the dog was staying only to be told that the dog was headed to or in Pinevale, Antigonish County with its proper owner. There wasn't any more they could do because the dog was out of their jurisdiction but for extra precaution, they did another sweep around to make sure the dog was not still roaming around Sunnyville.”

Over the past week, Coal's family has been working to see the owner of the offending dog held accountable and the dangerous animal treated or euthanized. They were told, according to Surette, that the MODG could not enforce bylaws outside of its jurisdiction and that the County of Antigonish could only watch and warn the owner that they were aware of the situation, as the attack had not happened in their jurisdiction.

MODG CAO Barry Carroll explained the position of the MODG on this issue in an email Tuesday. “Our bylaw covers the Municipality of the District of Guysborough only. We are currently working on revising our existing bylaw in an effort to strengthen it even more, and with an eye to holding the dog owner more accountable.”

Beth Schumacher, deputy clerk for the County of Antigonish said, in an interview on Tuesday, that the county has been asked about a specific incident involving a dog from the County of Antigonish by the dog control officer in Guysborough. Antigonish authorities are aware of where the dog is in the county and have been working to contact the owner to speak about the incident. The case is ongoing.

Surette has also been in contact with an S.P.C.A. animal welfare advocate in Antigonish who has made contact with the owner of the dog in question.

Surette stated that, at this time, she's been informed, “The dog does appear to have an infection or something that caused the large growth on its face. The owner agreed to take the dog to the vet in New Glasgow to get the growth examined and treated.”

Joanne Landsburg, Chief Provincial Inspector for the SPCA, which oversees the Animal Protection Act for the Province of Nova Scotia, told The Journal Tuesday that there is an open and ongoing case in regards to animal welfare as it pertains to this situation. She added that the S.P.C.A has no jurisdiction over animal control.

When asked if the family was satisfied with this outcome, Surette replied, “No, we are not happy with the outcome. We would like the dog to be put down and the owner or owners be held responsible for this and charged with animal negligence or animal cruelty. It's obvious by the size of the growth on its jaw, the owners had no intention of getting it the help it needed. Clearly with that growth, it is suffering and now that it has attacked and killed another animal, the risk of it attacking again is greater and next time it could be an innocent child.”