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Woman urges dog owners to control their pets after attack on P.E.I.'s Confederation Trail

Oliver, a five-and-a-half-year-old cocker spaniel-poodle mix, was treated at the vet for bruising around his neck. (Mary-Helen McLeese/CBC - image credit)
Oliver, a five-and-a-half-year-old cocker spaniel-poodle mix, was treated at the vet for bruising around his neck. (Mary-Helen McLeese/CBC - image credit)

Kathryn Lewis used to walk about five kilometres every day along Prince Edward Island's Confederation Trail.

But the 67-year-old woman says she's too scared to go back after an incident on Saturday that left her shaken and her dog injured and traumatized.

Lewis said she was walking with her dog Oliver, a mix between a cocker spaniel and poodle, on the trail behind Royalty Crossing Mall in Charlottetown when a larger dog got loose from its owner.

"It dragged my dog into the ditch, had my dog's head in its mouth and its teeth around my dog's neck, and he wouldn't let go," she said in an interview with CBC.

Lewis is urging dog owners who use the trail to maintain control over their animals.

"This man had no control over his dog. The dog had clamped down. This was not a dog fight.  This was a kill," she said. "The man kept saying, 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry,' and I was screaming for help."

The incident occurred Saturday on the Confederation Trail near the Royalty Crossing Mall in Charlottetown. (Mary-Helen McLeese/CBC)

Lewis said the man kept trying to restrain his dog, but each time it broke loose and attacked Oliver again.

"The dog would lunge at me, knock me down because I'm picking [Oliver] up, grabbed my doggy and took him back to the ditch, and it happened all over again. This was at least four times."

I don't feel safe. I walk that trail every day. I'm never going back. — Kathryn Lewis

Lewis called 911 and police arrived and took a statement. An animal protection officer with the P.E.I. Humane Society also attended the scene.

Lewis went to the hospital to be treated for pain in her shoulder while her husband took Oliver to the Atlantic Veterinary College emergency room for bruising around his neck.

"I was lucky. I don't have my hand ripped off or my face, but it was one of the scariest things I've ever gone through."

While it could have been worse, it's enough to keep her and Oliver away from the trail they love to walk.

"I don't feel safe. I walk that trail every day. I'm never going back," she said.

"It's like a free-for-all. There's children, there's elderly people, there's bicyclists, there's joggers and, you know, all the dogs want to take [a] run after somebody who's running. It's just not fair."

Kathryn Lewis says she no longer feels safe walking on the Confederation Trail after the incident. (Mary-Helen McLeese/CBC)

In an email to CBC, Charlottetown Police Services said the investigation has been turned over to the humane society, which handles animal control enforcement in the city.

Under Charlottetown's dog control bylaw, owners can be fined if their dog attacks a person or runs at large within the boundaries of the city. Dogs that attempt to bite a person or viciously attack another animal could be put down.

Nobody from the P.E.I. Humane Society would agree to an interview Monday.

But Monday afternoon, Lewis said an animal protection officer told her he won't be issuing a fine or taking any action.

The officer told her the dog's owner was remorseful, the dog didn't have a history of aggression. and that what happened was an accident.

Lewis said the other dog's owner offered to pay her vet bill, but she declined.