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'I found my mom crying': Family of dog killed by Pit Bulls in Auburn Bay heartbroken

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The family of a small dog killed by two Pit Bull Terriers in Auburn Bay on Sunday are heartbroken but thankful their grandmother, who recently moved to Canada after fleeing the war in Ukraine, wasn't hurt during the vicious attack.

Oleg and his 70-year-old mother, Nina, who wish to keep their family name private, say they had just finished dinner when she took the seven-year-old Pomeranian, Bonniechka, for a walk around the neighbourhood.

"My wife got a call from my mom that something had happened and I didn't know what but I ran out of the house and tried to find my mom. There was a lot of police and it was a terrible picture because I found my mom crying," he said.

Oleg says his mother didn't see the Pit Bulls coming because they attacked the smaller dog from behind.

Tears stream down her face as she recalls what happened, while Oleg translates.

"It was so sudden and unexpected. It was like one second and these dogs killed my mom's pet," he said.

Neena cried out, hoping someone would hear her and that's when a man, believed to be the Pit Bulls' owner, ran over and grabbed the dogs.

By then, it was too late.

"My mom loved this pet. It was not just like company, it was like a family member for us and for my mom," Oleg said.

"This dog travelled a long distance from Ukraine, escaping from the war."

The Pit Bulls had escaped their yard and attacked another man walking his two dogs nearby.

The city seized the Pit Bulls and is now conducting an investigation but says it is too soon to know if the dogs will be euthanized under the Dangerous Dog Act.

The investigation will also determine what enforcement action under bylaws will take place, which can include charges and fines for the pets' owners.

The attack comes less than a week after the owner of three dogs that mauled a senior to death in 2022 pleaded guilty in court to a number of bylaw charges and agreed to have one of the dogs euthanized.

While these cases are fatal, other bites and attacks take place and do not always make headlines.

Brian James is a runner bitten twice by dogs in the past three weeks near Marda Loop, with the most recent incident occurring on Sunday.

"One jumped up and bit my hand. ... It didn’t break skin but it bruised it. Then, on Sunday, I was bit again on the side of the leg and it actually tore my pants open and cut my leg" he said.

"They're just not paying attention to their animals and just not pulling them back when they should be."

Brian James is a runner bitten twice by dogs in the past three weeks near Marda Loop, with the most recent incident occurring on Sunday.

James says he tries to run far around pets but wishes owners would pay more attention and always have their pets on leashes, even if they're not aggressive.

"I think it's just awareness. I don't think there's anything the city can really do. I think people just need to be aware, whether I'm running, or a cyclist or little kids, your dog needs to be under control at all times," he said.

"The first dog wasn't aggressive at all. I think he just bit my hand because he was excited and I was running by but just because your dog isn't aggressive doesn't mean he's not going to hurt somebody."

Dog attacks on the decline in Calgary

The number of dog attacks recorded by the city has dropped over the past seven years, from 243 in 2015 to 170 in 2022.

Ryan Pleckaitis, community standards chief at the City of Calgary, credits that in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and fewer people being outdoors and in public spaces, in addition to updates made to the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.

"We increased the fines significantly to act as an effective deterrent and we also gave our officers and myself mechanisms to deal with serious incidents or reoccurring incidents," he said.

"We have the ability to label or designate dogs as vicious, which means they have to adhere to a number of very strict conditions to prevent the reoccurrence of an incident."

Pleckaitis says the city is now shifting its focus to dog bite prevention, which includes a series of online videos to educate dog owners.

He says the city has also developed a curriculum for grades 5 and 6 students and is working to implement it in schools.

"It's really to educate young people on animal behaviour and cues and how animals can communicate with us through their body language, he said.

"Part of that is just to help educate students on animals but also pass on lessons that they can take with them later in life that will stay with them and hopefully protect them if they're in a situation where there is an aggressive dog in their surroundings." 

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