A Bear Lake mother is wondering why charges won't be laid against the owner of a dog who attacked and bit her young daughter.
Sabrina Kapchinsky said eight-year-old Savanah was left with a full puncture wound when the dog, who lives next door, went after her as she and a friend were passing by the home on Friday evening.
"The dog just pounced on my daughter," Kapchinsky said. "And her friend in the back was kicking the dog to get him off. He bit her right in the ribcage right underneath the arm."
Kapchinsky took Savanah to hospital in Prince George where the wound was cleaned up. Neither stitches nor a tetanus shot were needed but Savanah remains traumatized in part because she can still see the dog, now back on its chain in the neighbouring yard.
Kapchinsky said the dog weighs about 200 pounds and had been off the chain for about three days when the attack occurred.
When she reported the incident to RCMP, Kapchinsky said she was told charges were unlikely. And when she contacted the SPCA, Kapchinsky was told there is nothing they could do because she lives outside city limits and no animal control bylaw is in place for her electoral area.
The attack occurred just three days before another Bear Lake resident, Frederick William Wynnychuk, 50, was fined $500 and sentenced to one year probation after pleading guilty to assault after his dog attacked and bit a neighbour in May 2012.
However, there are differences between the two incidents.
On Monday, the court heard that Wynnychuk was walking along a road with his dog on a leash when he saw the neighbour and decided to unleash the animal despite it acting in an aggressive manner. The dog bit the neighbour on the foot before he managed to fend off the animal off with his walking cane.
Wynnychuk, who appeared remorseful during his appearance in Prince George provincial court, had not been getting along with the neighbour but did not expect the dog would attack, the court was told. He unleashed the animal as a "scare tactic, more than anything else."
The animal has since been destroyed and one of the conditions of Wynnychuk's probation is that he not be in the care of a dog.
Prince George RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass said that if the owner sicks a dog on someone, that person can face criminal charges, but if the dog is on the loose when it bites someone, it's a matter for bylaw officers to handle.
"That wouldn't be criminal because there was no intent by somebody to hurt the person," Douglass said.
Prince George SPCA relief manager Debbie Goodine, meanwhile, confirmed that the shelter's services end at city limits except when called out by the RCMP to deal with a problem animal. The SPCA assisted the RCMP on the Wynnychuk case, Goodine said.
Without an animal control bylaw in place for the regional district's rural areas, and accompanied by a tax levy to pay for the service, Goodine said there is little the SPCA can do.
"I can definitely appreciate people's frustrations and I wish for sure there was more we can do, but being nonprofit, it just would spread us far too thin to be able to respond the many calls that we do receive for dangerous dogs outside of city limits," Goodine said.
Eugene Isadore, the father of Jimmy Isadore, who owns the dog that attacked Savanah, said someone had got into the yard and let the dog loose, "and I don't know who it was."
But it's now back on its chain,according to both Isadore and Kapchinsky.
"We've had him for 10 years and it's the first time we ever had something happen like that," Isadore said, although Kapchinsky alleged the dog has been the cause of some previous trouble.
She's also thinking about getting a campaign going to get an animal control bylaw passed by the regional district board of directors.
"It might be worth it in the long run, to save somebody else," said Kapchinsky, who estimates Bear Lake's population at 198 people and at least as many dogs.