Bite victim demands county action on dogs

A Red Deer woman who says she was bitten by a dog in Red Deer County has a warning — there’s no consequence for the dog or owner under the county’s animal bylaw.

Lynda O’Sullivan is pictured here several days after she was attacked by a bull mastiff dog last Thursday. O’Sullivan has gone through one round of plastic surgery and is due for several more surgeries.

A Red Deer woman who says she was bitten by a dog in Red Deer County has a warning — there’s no consequence for the dog or owner under the county’s animal bylaw.

Lynda O’Sullivan, 47, has 56 stitches after a male bull mastiff, a large, powerful dog that resembles a bull dog, lunged at her and bit her face on Thursday.

“(Red Deer County) better get it together. There’s a lot more dogs running around lose in the county than in town,” said O’Sullivan on Tuesday, who must have three more surgeries to her face.

Her face was ripped open under her nose and left cheek. It took a three-hour surgery to stitch up her wounds. She’s still using a straw to eat.

O’Sullivan said the dog was always friendly before. She was working on the dog owner’s property when the attack occurred.

“I’ve known that dog for almost two years. I don’t know why it happened.”

“I’m having nightmares. I can’t sleep at night. I just keep seeing the dog right here,” O’Sullivan said raising her hand to her face.

“It’s been very traumatizing.”

Bob Dixon, senior patrol officer with Red Deer County, said the county’s animal bylaw is being rewritten this year and fines will be considered against owners when a dog bites a human.

“When it was written we had legal recommendation not to put biting in our bylaw because it is already covered provincially under the Dangerous Dogs Act of Alberta,” Dixon said.

Most dog bites in the county are little nips, far from attacks. The act is probably the appropriate way to deal with serious dog bites, she said.

Red Deer Rural RCMP did investigate the attack because the bite was to the face, but is not pursuing charges under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The name of the owner has not been released.

Const. Adam Schedlosky said there would be “a minimal to nil chance” of a conviction for several mitigating factors.

It is the only documented bite from this dog. The dog was on the owner’s property with a “beware of dog sign.” The victim knew the dog and was comfortable with it and she wasn’t interested in pursuing criminal charges.

O’Sullivan said there was no warning sign on the property and she’s taking the owner to civil court.

“I have no recourse. I’m a single mom. I’m going to be out of work for so long because I have three more surgeries to go through. There’s no other way I’m going to survive. I have rent to pay and food to buy.”

O’Sullivan said something has to be done to recognize that dog is dangerous.

“If that can happen to me, and I’ve known the dog for that long, who knows what can happen?”

“If I had been a little kid, my head would have been in that dog’s mouth.”

The City of Red Deer does include dog bites to humans in its bylaw. A judge decides whether the dog needs to be destroyed or if the owner needs to take precautions to control the dog. Fines range from $200 to $2,000.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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