Dog bite sends woman to hospital

A large bruise surrounds the ugly bite punctures on Shelly Foss’s leg. The gruesome-looking injury came at the jaws of a German shepherd that attacked her while she was strolling in JJ Collett Natural Area near Lacombe on Aug. 21. Signs are posted reminding dog owners that their pets must be on leashes, but Foss estimates 95 per cent of dog walkers ignore the rule.

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff

A large bruise surrounds the ugly bite punctures on Shelly Foss’s leg.

The gruesome-looking injury came at the jaws of a German shepherd that attacked her while she was strolling in JJ Collett Natural Area near Lacombe on Aug. 21.

Signs are posted reminding dog owners that their pets must be on leashes, but Foss estimates 95 per cent of dog walkers ignore the rule.

And she paid the price during a supper-time walk alone.

As she was approaching two dogs accompanied by their owner they ran towards her. As she watched one dog in front of her, the larger, more aggressive of the pair circled behind her.

“Then I felt this searing pain in my thigh,” she said. “I turned around and he had inflicted a nasty — I mean it’s a really nasty bite. It is bad.”

The dog kept circling her as she screamed at it and waved her water bottle to try to scare it off.

While all of this was going on the owner was slowly walking along, oblivious to the scene ahead of her.

“That was the thing that made me the most angry. I’m being attacked by her dogs and she is not even making any effort to get there any faster.”

Foss said the owner finally grabbed the dogs’ leashes, which had been trailing on the ground behind them and corralled the animals. The biter continued to snarl and try to get at her.

Foss was so rattled she just left without getting the woman’s name.

“I was kind of in shock. I just wanted to get as far away from that horrible, aggressive animal as I could and as quickly I could.”

When she got home, she realized how bad the wound was and went to Lacombe Hospital

The hospital staff “took one look at it and said, ‘Oh boy, we’ve got to report this to animal control.’”

An animal control officer questioned her and said they would try to find out who the owner is.

Foss left hospital after getting a tetanus shot and antibiotics. Days later she is still in pain, which jars her awake during the night.

JJ Collett sent an email to the natural area’s website and asked for information that might help identify the dog owner. She has not had a response.

She did speak with a member of the volunteer foundation which oversees the park, who told her that dogs running free have been an ongoing problem. The board intends to discuss the issue at its next meeting in September.

Meanwhile, Foss wants to warn others and convince dog owners to keep their animals under control.

“What I am trying to do I guess is make people aware of what’s going on out there.”

It could have been much worse, she said.

“There’s lots of people out there with small children. It could happen again.

“People treat this as a dog park. It’s not a dog park.”

Efforts were unsuccessful to reach the JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation, the volunteer steward group that oversees the park, which includes 635 acres of aspen parkland criss-crossed with 18 km of trails.

Alberta Environment and Parks was looking into the incident but could not comment on Friday.

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