Jason Arnold was walking his dog, Sprocket, at Gonzales Beach on March 2. As Sprocket was happily playing with two small dogs in the off-leash area, Arnold says another dog tackled Sprocket to the ground and started aggressively biting him.
After the incident, the attacking dog returned to an older woman, who Arnold said witnessed the whole thing, and the two left the beach.
Sprocket had a limp as he walked back to his owner’s feet, but Arnold didn’t notice the extent of the injury until they got home and he saw blood coming through the the three-year-old poodle’s thick, golden fur.
The incident left Sprocket with two cuts that needed 13 stitches.
On the way to the vet, Arnold said he actually passed the woman who was with the dog that attacked Sprocket.
“I rolled down my window and said, ‘Hey your dog did some serious damage to my dog,’ and she just basically ignored me,” he said.
Arnold hopes the story serves as a warning and encouraged other owners to learn to recognize the difference between playful and aggressive behavior.
“You don’t realize the aggression of other dogs on the beach, so I think it is a good idea for dog owners to be a little more mindful,” Arnold said.
That’s led to Arnold and his wife, Katherine Browne, offering the owner of the dog that injured Sprocket a unique arrangement. They reported the incident to animal control, but aren’t asking to have their $1,000 vet bill repaid. The couple says they’ll offer the owner $400 to have their dog trained, if they see her again.
“For us, it isn’t about the vet bill, it’s about getting this dog the help it needs so that it doesn’t hurt more dogs.”
He said if these situations happen, owners should talk to each other as you would after a car crash.
“It’s important that people understand that it’s not OK, and when it happens, especially if your dog initiated it, everybody needs to share information so it gets handled properly.”
Arnold said the vet told him that there’s a lot of new pet owners due to the pandemic and the vet has treated more dog-on-dog attack cases.
That doesn’t mesh with what the Capital Regional District has seen.
Don Brown, the CRD’s chief bylaw officer, said they haven’t really seen any noticeable changes in aggressive incidents, but notes there’s been some incidents in the last week. He expects encounters will probably increase as the weather gets nicer.
Brown was also surprised there’s been so few incidents involving aggressive dogs because people are flocking to parks and trails. His recommendation: keep your dogs leashed even in off-leash areas.
Victoria Animal Control Services said they also haven’t seen an increase in aggressive incidents.