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Charges could come against both dog owners in Calgary pit bull attack

A bylaw official says charges could be laid against both dog owners after a vicious attack in which three pit bulls killed a dog and injured another in an off-leash park.

Doug Anderson, co-ordinator for Calgary's animal and bylaw services, says that while it was the pit bulls that did the damage, they were on a leash at the time and were approached by two dogs that were running free.

"We expect all dog owners to have control of their dogs and we do have a charging section for animals not being in control," Anderson said Wednesday. "That generally is in an off-leash area where somebody does not have the ability to call their animals back.

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"There could be possible charges against both parties or just one party."

A teenage brother and sister were walking their dogs at a park in southeast Calgary on Monday when the attack happened. A Pomeranian named Patrick died of his injuries, while another dog, a Great Pyrenees named Maximus, was badly injured.

The pit bulls have been seized by Calgary Animal Services and are to have behaviour tests to see whether they should be returned to their owner or be destroyed. After the assessment, a decision will be made on whether to hold a dangerous dog hearing.

The pit bull owner, Stephen Jaquish, is charged with causing a dog's death and with failing to license his animals. Anderson said there could be further charges depending on how the investigation proceeds.

Anderson said his office will be talking to the legal owner of the Pomeranian and Great Pyrenees as part of the investigation.

He said it doesn't really matter which dog started the scrap.

"Provocation comes into play a bit when we're looking at a vicious dog hearing as to what options we will look at, but at the end of the day, a dog was killed because of the actions of another animal," he said. "The provocation is not going to be high on our list of considerations."

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Anderson said the city is not considering a ban on pit bulls as has been done in other jurisdictions, because breed bans don't work and are tough to enforce.

Pit bulls didn't even make the top of the list last year when it came to attacks, he said. That spot was held by "herding dogs" such as collies, sheepdogs and German shepherds.

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