Rocky Mountain House town council urged to ban pit bulls

A Rocky Mountain House woman has asked town council to ban pit bull dogs or at least place severe restrictions on them.

A Rocky Mountain House woman has asked town council to ban pit bull dogs or at least place severe restrictions on them.

At the same time, another local resident has started an online petition to stop council from putting a ban on the breed.

Audrey Kokesch is asking for the change to the town’s dog and cat bylaw following an incident in April where her 86-year-old mother and her dog, and another woman’s dog, were injured during separate attacks moments apart involving three roaming pit bulls.

Kokesch said on Monday that she would like to see council ban pit bulls altogether, with dogs of the particular breed “grandfathered,” so that those now in the town could remain but they would need to be muzzled and on a short leash in public, and neutered or spayed. If this can’t happen, then Kokesch would at least like to see severe restrictions on pit bulls when they are out in public.

On April 27, Jenna Ellefson was out jogging on a path in Rocky when her dog was attacked by three pit bulls running loose. She tried to fight the dogs off with sticks and by kicking them until Good Samaritans came and helped her, and stopped the attack.

Two of the pit bulls carried on down the path where they encountered Kokesch’s mother, Theresa, who was walking her daughter’s dog. The pit bulls attacked her dog and the senior also tried to fend them off with a branch and by kicking until other people came along to help. Theresa suffered soft tissue injuries. Both the dogs that were attacked suffered serious injuries.

In May, after an investigation, a judge ordered that the three pit bulls be humanely euthanized. Rocky resident Brandi Reeves, owner of the dogs, pleaded guilty to five counts of owning a dog that attacked another animal causing severe injury and three counts of owning a dog running at large. She was fined a total of $2,800 and ordered to pay restitution of $1,913.39 in vet bills for the two injured dogs.

Kokesch was concerned on Monday after social media reports of another report of a dog killing another dog. The Advocate was unable to verify the report, although Alberta Animal Services reported there had been an incident in Clearwater County, outside of Rocky, on the weekend.

Earlier this month, Kokesch made the request before council to have pit bulls banned. Council directed administration to provide recommendations during the review of the dog and cat bylaw that was already underway.

Kokesch told council that pit bulls have been banned in Ontario and Winnipeg. She said that she has met people on the community path carrying clubs and other means of defending themselves because they don’t feel safe, and are afraid of another dog attack.

Since Kokesch went to council, Jessica Crawler, another Rocky resident, has started an online petition to stop Rocky council from banning pit bulls (although the town has not made any move to do so).

At the online website change.org, Carter has received about 1,230 signatures, although many of them are not by people from Rocky.

“I feel that we can educate and make a difference and show the community that we call home that not only is this ban going to hurt innocent dogs that don’t deserve it, but it is going to hurt our families as well. … It is not the dog that should be blamed for what happened, it is the irresponsible ownership that should be punished,” she states on the website.

Breed-specific legislation does not take into account how the owner has raised, trained or managed the dog. It does not take into account the dog’s actual behaviour, Crawler stated.

barr@reddeeradvocate

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