Suspecting the dog that came with a new family in their neighbourhood is a pit bull-cross, some St. Jacobs residents want quick action from the township.
The dog attacked a rabbit hutch on the property next door, with one of the animals having to be euthanized. Owners Todd and Melissa Metzger had contacted Woolwich officials in the spring when the new neighbours moved in, expressing concerns the dog appeared to be a pit bull-cross. Pit bulls have been ostensibly banned in the province since 2005.
Melissa Metzger said her concerns were dismissed by the township. Since the attack in August, Woolwich bylaw enforcement staff has launched an investigation, but has not been responsive to the couple’s request for an update. Nor is the township following its own guidelines that seem to indicate the owners should be forced to muzzle the dog even while the investigation continues, she added.
She and other neighbours who were out in support appeared at Woolwich council Tuesday night to express fears the dog might harm one of their children.
The Metzgers, for instance, have four kids, foster others and run a home daycare.
“Please don’t make us wait for a dog to attack one of our children before you do anything,” she said, noting the dog remains unmuzzled and is not always on a leash, with no fencing separating most of the large yards in the area.
Natasha Felder, the dog’s owner, said she and her husband are willing to make reparations, but argued that muzzling isn’t necessary. She challenged assertions the dog is a pit bull-cross, adding that the neighbours are welcome to come talk to them directly.
“We’ve done everything that we possibly can as a tenant. We are not looking to escalate this any further,” she said.
Coun. Mark Bauman suggested that the dog be leashed at all times when it’s outside, as the neighbours need assurances that their kids are going to be safe while playing outdoors.
“On their behalf, I’m asking you right now,” he said of keeping the dog leashed for the neighbours’ sake.
“Dogs will do things on their own. They have their own minds,” he said, pointing out that an animal can act in the moment, despite its owner.
Coun. Murray Martin asked Felder if she’d considered getting rid of the dog, suggesting that might be the best solution.
“If that dog ever gets hold of a child, you would wish that you would have got rid of him.”
Felder said she has considered that option.
Coun. Patrick Merlihan, saying he empathizes with the neighbours, called for the issue to be dealt with in a timely manner.
“I really hope this investigation can get moved along.”
Chief administrative officer David Brenneman said he would keep councillors apprised of developments ahead of the next meeting in October.