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Inuvik boy mauled by sled dog

Kira Curtis
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 21, 2011

INUVIK - A four-year-old boy who was viciously attacked by a dog that dragged him into its kennel Saturday, Feb. 12 was still recovering in an Edmonton hospital as of Thursday afternoon. RCMP said the boy, who will need multiple surgeries, was being treated at Stollery Children's hospital for injuries to his face, head and hands.

"I haven't seen one as horrific as this," said Linda Eccles, executive director of the Beaufort Delta SPCA, who visited the scene after the attack.

Eccles said she was shocked to hear about the incident, adding she was familiar with the dog. Eccles described the animal as a family pet that had not been aggressive before.

RCMP Const. Derek Young said the boy was at home with a 15-year-old babysitter at the time. Young said that from what he understands, the girl had called a cab and the boy was outside playing with the black and white sled dog - a larger breed husky mix.

Although the dog was being kept on the boy's family's property, it doesn't belong to them, according to the RCMP.

"He was playing with the dog, which he has done in the past, and like I say, there was no previous history of aggression," Young said, adding 'the dog suddenly attacked him in the face."

Eccles said it was the babysitter's quick response that rescued the boy from the estimated 150 to 160 pound animal.

"She actually took her life in her hands to get that little boy out, and not many people would do that." Eccles said. "She fought the dog off."

Eccles said a taxi driver arrived on the scene and took the boy to the hospital. By early Sunday morning, a medical team had assembled and arrived from Edmonton to take the boy south.

The dog is being kept in a secure compound near the dump. It is under observation for rabies and will be put down, the RCMP said.

Young said it is extremely unusual to see such a severe attack, especially on a known and trained dog.

"There's reports once and a while that come in that a dog has nipped or bit, but this is a full on dog attack where someone's been actually mauled," Young said. "This one was we believe to be an unprovoked, sudden attack."

When Eccles arrived at the scene of the attack the next day she found the dog on a chain in a kennel closest to the house. She also found an animal bone inside the dog house.

"Anytime you have a bone in a dog house, and the child is not attended with a parent, or somebody, and they get too close, well that's just asking for something tragic to happen," Eccles said.

Eccles said people in the community should educate their children about pets.

"Teach them while they're young to be caring to their pet; never put their face down to them when they're eating food; pet them gently; talk to the dogs," she said.

Eccles explained she often finds people don't take pet ownership seriously and often little kids are left alone with big dogs when they shouldn't be.

"Every dog is a potential biter, there is no such thing as a dog that won't bite." Eccles said. "I was saddened and shocked to hear this, but we have to remember that a four-year-old, if they're not with an adult and they're using something, picking up a stick or they're teasing, well, it's just a tragedy waiting to happen."

Eccles said kids, especially young children, tend to tease and prod at animals, and that it's up to the parents to teach them how to be gentle, as well as never leave them alone.

"At the end of the day the parent for a young child is responsible," she said. "A child four-years of age should never be alone with a dog. Never."

"We want to remind all parents with small children to exercise extreme caution when dealing with all animals," Young added.

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