Airdrie resident and dog owner Michelle Toma said she wants other dog owners to be more aware and more accountable for their four-legged companions after her dog was allegedly attacked by a loose dog on Monday evening (April 24).

Toma said she was taking her miniature Australian Shepherd, Amara, for an early evening walk. The two were headed west on Yankee Valley Boulevard on the Southside when she noticed that two dogs were running towards her, but there was no owner in sight.

"I thought there was an owner and I thought they were on leash; I didn't even notice that they were not on leash. They were just running down the pathway, she said. "All of a sudden, just as we were coming closer to the light at East Lake Boulevard and Yankee Valley, the dog came up on my right-hand side and just started to attack my dog."

Toma said she believes that the dog that began to attack her own looked to be a pitbull - mostly white with some black and white. 

"We ended up on the ground and I was trying to pull my dog away and trying to get this pitbull to release the grip that he had on my dog. I'm trying to kick this dog and I'm trying to hit him in the head and I'm trying to pry open his mouth with my hands to release his grip on my dog."

She said that the entire attack lasted for a minute or so as she was on the ground and yelling for help from passersby. Another woman who had been walking her dog ahead of Toma heard her calls for help.

"Her name was Reagan and she was amazing. She was trying to get this dog off my dog as well and the gentleman over in the townhouse in King Heights was asking if I needed anything or if he could help. It was unbelievable. Finally, the dog released as I was kicking him and went running back up Yankee Valley headed east back up the pathway."

Initially, Toma said she was terrified because there was blood on the ground, but upon closer inspection, she realized her dog wasn't wounded and the bites hadn't broken any skin, however, she herself sustained several bites and scratches to her hands from trying to separate the two dogs. She said she will be looking to see her family doctor and get tetanus shots as she said she can't be sure if the attacking dogs' vaccines were up to date.

Toma added that the second dog didn't attack and she isn't sure what happened to it. 

"We're going to go see a specialist tomorrow to make sure Amara's knees are where they need to be," she added, saying that she is worried the dog attack may have resulted in muscle or tendon damage to her dog's hind legs. 

Toma is hopeful the owners of the offending dogs come forward, citing that she is worried that if a child had been walking the dog, things may have turned out much worse.

"I just don't want this to happen to somebody else and the lady that saved us - I can't even thank her enough for being there and coming to my rescue," she said. "I saw kids walking [in the area] less than 10 minutes prior to that. I saw a little girl on her bike with her brother on rollerblades walking two dogs..."

She added that all dog owners should be cognizant of not only their dogs' temperaments but owners should pay more attention to their pets if they are leaving them in the backyard, unsupervised.

She said that Airdrie's municipal bylaw officers did attend her residence after she came home, to take her statement, though she said the officer told her that while they had attempted to look for the offending animal for well over an hour, the dog was nowhere to be found. 

According to the city's Animal Control Bylaw, fines for animal bites in the schedule "C" fines section range from $250 to a $2000 fine; the $2000 fine pertains to a specified penalty if an animal bites or attack a Person and causes severe injury. The first-time fine for a severe bite is $1,200. 

The bylaw also uses a scale to determine the severity of a dog bite. According to the Dr. Ian Dunbar Aggression Scale, a level one encounter is described as, "dog growls, lunges, snarls- no teeth touch the skin. Mostly intimidation and/or threatening behaviour." Whereas the most severe encounter is classified as a level six, "any bite resulting in the death of an animal."

Discover Airdrie reached out to Municipal Enforcement at the City of Airdrie and it was relayed that since the incident regarding the dog attack is still an active investigation, no other details can be released at this time. 

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