A Summerside man is looking for some action from the police after he was injured by a dog last summer.
Elmer Perry, an 87-year-old veteran of the Canadian Air Force, was in his yard on Hawthorne Avenue when two large dogs, running free in the vacant lot next door, came over looking for attention.
“One jumped on top of me, the other one was … pawing and scratching at my feet,” said Perry.
“The one that jumped up on top of me, his sharp claws went into my left arm.”
Summoned by Perry’s yells, two men came to pull the animals away and put them indoors. The dogs were each around 50 pounds and owned by the daughter of one of the men, Perry said. He could tell the dogs were simply looking for affection, but they were out of control, and he doesn’t want anyone else getting hurt.
“The dogs are kept … in an upstairs apartment. They’re up there from morning to night by themselves and when (the owners) come home to let the dogs out, to do their thing, the dogs are so excited – to get petted, I believe," he said.
“When they jumped up on me, they weren’t looking to bite me, they were trying to get petted and then with those big, sharp claws, they just tore my arm all to heck.”
Perry called the Humane Society in Charlottetown for help but was told the Summerside Police Services was responsibile to enforce the city’s bylaw. Summerside’s animal control bylaw says dogs are not allowed to run at large on any property without permission from the landowner.
Perry said he wants what’s best for the pets and the owner to receive a ticket, which comes with a fine ranging from $25-$100, for letting the dogs run loose and jump up on him.
“They shouldn’t be in that apartment. I don’t want them euthanized, I don’t want them hurt in any way, but I want the owners responsible for those animals.”
Perry said he recently heard the dogs tried to jump up on a neighbour, who avoided them by rushing into her car.
Summerside chief administrative officer Rob Philpott said he couldn’t discuss a specific case for privacy reasons, but the city takes complaints seriously.
“When a bylaw complaint is brought to our attention (be it about an unsightly property, animal control, etc.), we follow up on it and take the appropriate steps to address it within the requirements of the relevant bylaw,” Philpott wrote in an email to The Guardian.
Need to know
- Summerside's animal control bylaw states dogs and cats must be registered at city hall.
- The animal’s tag must be with them all the time.
- There is no cost to register a pet.
- Neither dogs, nor cats may roam free in the city, even if they are registered.
- The fine for having a dog or cat at large starts at $25 and can be up to $100.
- The full bylaw can be found on the city’s website.
Coun. Cory Snow, who represents Perry’s ward, has visited Perry and tried to help shed some light on the situation. After police declined to write a ticket, Snow asked an officer to visit Perry to discuss the decision.
“Our police services did go out several times to meet with Mr. Perry and continue to come to the same conclusion. As a councillor, I am not privy to police decisions or have input on their decisions,” Snow wrote in an email to The Guardian.
“It is no secret I have issues with how our bylaws are enforced. ... I feel our police services should be focused on more police- and traffic-related issues and bylaws enforced by a bylaw officer or other delegate. That said, currently our bylaws are enforced by our police services and the ultimate decision-making is in their hands.”
Philpott said the city has discussed hiring a dedicated bylaw enforcement officer, but no decision has been made.
Perry’s health took a turn a few days after the incident.
“I never, ever fell down so many times in my life. It may be a coincidence, however … soon after that I started to fall (unnecessarily).”
He visited the emergency room a few days after the incident with the dogs. Perry had bandaged the wound at home, and it was healing well, but he hadn’t been able to determine if the dogs had been vaccinated against rabies, so he wanted to be checked by a doctor.
While there, the doctor noticed Perry was stumbling.
His unsteady gait continued, and he took a particularly hard fall on the sidewalk in early October.
“I didn’t figure I hurt myself (but), a few days later, my fingers started going numb.”
Since then, he has felt increasingly unbalanced and his legs are still weak. Numbness and soreness in his hands and arms mean he can no longer write, and he uses special utensils to eat.
“Something like if you froze your hand like when you were a child, and it thaws. It shakes for a while then it goes away, but this is not going away.”