According to Maury Karch, the Coordinator of municipal enforcement with the city of Airdrie, the city has dealt with upwards of 20 reports of incidents of dog bites this year. However, he did underline that within the 20 or so reported cases, bites can include dogs biting other canines as well as dogs biting humans. In comparison to previous years, he believes it is on par with previously available data. 

With the recent tragic news of an 86-year-old woman from Calgary having been attacked by three neighbourhood dogs and subsequently dying from her injuries, Karch said that in his view, the responsibility for a dog's behaviour should always fall on the owner.

"I am a dog owner and I ensure that my gates are locked, my fences in good conditions," he said. Everyone knows their own dog and if they feel that their dog is aggressive, you got to do your best; if you just let your dog out into the backyard to run around, that's on you to make sure that your backyard is secure."

Karch said that even if someone were to open your gate and let your pet out, the pet owner is ultimately responsible for the animal's subsequent behaviour.

"You [have to] take the appropriate steps to ensure that it [the dog] doesn't bite anybody. You don't want to put your dog in a position of failure."

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. 

"In the event of a second offence with a twelve (12) month period, the Penalty in Lieu of Prosecution and the Specified Penalty shall double. In the event of a third offence within a twelve (12) month period, the Penalty in Lieu of Prosecution and the Specified Penalty shall triple," the city bylaw states.

However, fines for what is deemed a "vicious dog", which is a dog that, "has been declared to be a Vicious Dog by a Justice pursuant to the Dangerous Dogs Act, R.S.A. 2000 Chapter D-3," range anywhere from $50 to $4000. In order for a dog to be classified as a "vicious dog", the dog would have to have injured or bitten other animals or people previously, but it could also be deemed vicious if damaged or destroyed public or private property.

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 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."

Karch added that Airdrie does not have a list of breeds that may be deemed more aggressive than others. 

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