WARNING: This story contains distressing details
Tyson Proulx, 12, is recovering from life-threatening injuries after being attacked by a dog last week. (Photo submitted by Jason Proulx)
Bylaw officers have charged the owner of two dogs, one of which allegedly inflicted life-threatening injuries on a 12-year-old boy in Stittsville earlier this month and another that allegedly killed a neighbour’s dog in December.
The City of Ottawa bylaw department has issued charges under provincial and municipal legislation, including failing to prevent an unprovoked dog attack, failing to register a dog and having more than three dogs over the age of five months in one home.
One of the incidents was so severe the owner is scheduled to appear in court where a judge will determine the appropriate fine. One of the dogs has been surrendered and will be euthanized, while bylaw waits on a court order to seize the other.
Bylaw said the animals are a mixed breed. Neighbours say the dogs each look like a pit bull breed.
Jason Proulx says one of them attacked his son Tyson last week.
The 12-year-old, who is now home from the hospital recovering, was at a friend’s house last Friday night when he was reportedly attacked by a dog.
Around 9 p.m., his dad received a call from another parent telling him Tyson was taken to CHEO, eastern Ontario’s children’s hospital in Ottawa.
Proulx said he remembers the nurses asked him, “are you prepared for what you’re about to walk into?”
His son had lacerations across his face and scalp and puncture wounds all over his body, Proulx said. Doctors told him there was also damage to his son’s spine and lungs.
Proulx said there was blood everywhere.
“I thought I was about to lose my son,” he said.
The 12-year-old underwent seven hours of surgery that involved both facial reconstruction and numerous blood transfusions. Proulx said there are likely to be lingering injuries and scars that last the rest of his son’s life.
Proulx said he soon learned about a second dog living at the same home that reportedly killed another dog late in 2022.
Shih-tzu attacked in December
Stefanie Booth lives next door to the owner of the two dogs, and around the corner from Proulx. She said one of her neighbour’s dogs came running through a gate between their two yards and bit down on her eight-year-old shih-tzu in December, shaking him until he had gone quiet and limp.
“I felt hopeless. I didn’t know how to get the dog off,” said Booth tearfully.
“My heart broke for Dexter because I knew he was in so much pain and just like, watching it … it was devastating.”
Her neighbour’s son eventually managed to get the dog back inside their home and Booth said she rushed her own dog to receive emergency veterinary care, but was told Dexter’s injuries were too severe.
Booth reported the incident to bylaw, and officers came to investigate, but said the dog remained with her neighbour.
When she heard about the dog attack on Proulx’s son, Booth said she was “livid” and reached out to Proulx.
“I can’t understand. This shouldn’t happen. This is not an isolated incident,” said Proulx.
‘One of the worst’ attacks, bylaw director says
Roger Chapman, the city’s director of bylaw and regulatory services, said bylaw can’t forcibly take someone’s dog after an attack without a court order.
In the case of the attack on Booth’s shih-tzu, Chapman said officers determined the neighbour’s dog was a safety risk, but the neighbour refused to surrender her pet voluntarily.
Bylaw then had no choice but to wait for a judge to sign off on a seizure of the animal, but they continue to wait due to backlogs, Chapman added.
In the case of the attack on Tyson Proulx, Chapman said the owner voluntarily surrendered the dog to be euthanized.
“It’s an extremely tragic event,” Chapman said of the attack on the 12-year-old.
“I’ve been in this business for many years and I’ve seen some pretty significant attacks and bites in the past, but this certainly is one of the worst that I’ve seen during my career.”
Jason Proulx and Booth want changes to the law to help protect others from dogs with a history of violence.
“My son almost loses his life and he’s scarred for life,” said Proulx, calling the system “a total failure.”
Bylaw is not naming the owner for privacy reasons. CBC requested comment from a person it believes to be the owner of the dogs, but did not receive a response.