Thursday, March 17, 2011

When is it "puppy crazies", when is it "attack without provocation"?

This is very interesting to me - because I am really interested in intellectual questions that are nothing but mind masturbation - they have no good answers.

I am interested in well written dog bylaws - so much so that it's something I actually spend time researching, reading, and thinking about.

Here in Halifax - we have bylaw A300 - and you pretty much have to keep your dog under control at all times or else you are in some pretty deep shit. All your dog has to do is to "appear threatening" - your dog doesn't even have to actually DO anything to get in trouble. And a lot of bylaws are written that way.

And I think those types of bylaws are really shitty bylaws.

And then last week rumours start swirling about how City Councillor Sue Uteck's dog Homer knocked a person down at Point Pleasant Park and actually broke both her arms. Well. We all figured that Sue and her dog were going to be in for pretty deep shit.

And then on Monday - there's this article that comes out in the Chronicle Herald Community Paper - you can read it below. And it's also the photo in this post.

"Uteck sprints to help woman injured in park". Nowhere in the article does it actually say that the dog who broke both the woman's arms is actually Sue Uteck's dog. And then the article ends with the line "Homer's very sorry".

And the reason why he knocked the woman down was because he got a case of the "puppy crazies".

I think that's fabulous - the woman realized that the dog didn't mean to do it. That is the case in probably the majority of situations when dogs run up to people and they feel threatened.

I'd say that Sue Uteck is the LUCKIEST dog owner in the whole of North America this week. And that is no lie. Her dog broke some ladies arms - and she gets to keep her dog - AND she's being lauded for being such a great lady.

In 99% of other cases like this - Homer would have been taken away and killed - and the dog's owner would have been reviled as a horrible, negilent dog owner.

Especially in a city where they a dog bylaw where all a dog has to do is to "appear threatening".

So Ms. Uteck - you should county your lucky stars.

And you should get Homer's "puppy crazies" under control - because I don't think you'll be this lucky again. As a responsible dog owner - I can pretty much guarantee it.

Uteck sprints to help woman injured in park
Mon, Mar 14 - 4:54 AM

Coun. Sue Uteck 'went above and beyond' after woman injured in Point Pleasant Park.

IT ALL STARTED with an innocent walk in the park.

My sister, Jocelyn, was out for her daily constitutional in Point Pleasant Park. It was a chilly, sunny day, and she was well-prepared for her walk: thermal underwear, a warm coat and hat, ice-grippers on her shoes.

Because she’s a park "regular," she recognized the big, goofy, 135-pound bullmastiff that was bounding happily around near her. Suddenly, he got a case of the puppy-crazies. He was right behind her when he spun around unexpectedly, and in the process, knocked her legs completely out from under her.

She went down hard. Very hard, it turns out. Two broken arms hard.

That’s right, TWO broken arms.

"It was a textbook middle linebacker hit," the dog’s owner told me later. It turns out the dog wasn’t the only one my sister recognized; big ol’ Homer happened to belong to none other than Halifax Regional Coun. Sue Uteck.

I’d never met Sue before; I don’t even think I’ve ever interviewed her. Apart from the fact that her being a councillor makes for a pretty good story here, none of this really has to do with Sue as a public figure. It does have a lot to do with her as a person, though. I was pretty impressed with the way she went above and beyond for my sister on that day. She, along with a gentleman—whose name I don’t know, but who was walking his dogs nearby and saw the whole thing—rushed to her aid.

The first thing she tried to do was phone the park superintendent, who, it turned out, didn’t answer; his phone line didn’t even have voicemail.

"Somebody has to be available in the event of an emergency," Sue said later, "but in defence of the park, I didn’t use the emergency line. There is a phone" — in fact, there are a couple of emergency call buttons and one or two phones in the park — "but between where we were in the park, and where I’d have to run to use the phone, it was faster for me to go directly to the park office."

So off she sprinted, leaving Jocelyn in the care of the gentleman and his three Bernese mountain dogs. Fortunately, my sister had been helped to her feet by some other folks, and was able to walk, with the gentleman’s help, to the park office. Had she been unable to walk, I’m not sure how she would have gotten out of the park that day, short of having paramedics drive an ambulance right up the main road and haul a stretcher out onto the paths.

Over the course of the next hour or so, Sue sprinted to the far end of the park to get to her own car, then drove to the other end of the park to get my sister’s car, and did a whole lot of running and juggling in between to get both cars and her own dogs home and to get my sister to the hospital.

My sincere thanks to Sue and to all of the folks who helped my sister out on that day. Imagine how much easier that all would have been, had there just been some accessible emergency services in the park.

As for the dog? Says Sue: "Homer’s very sorry."


  1. Joan,
    Right on the money! I actually think it is nice that people recognized dogs being dogs.

    Homer,Sue Uteck's dog has to count on Sue to be responsible for giving him a healthy, happy, safe life. This includes keeping Homer safe from the incredibly poor piece of legislation A300 is.

    It doesn't look like Sue is and this is disturbing. As much as Homer was just having a case of "puppy crazies" A3oo doesnt recognize "puppy Crazies" - all anyone had to say in that situation was that they felt threatened by Homer and his behaviour and Homer could be on death row.

    I feel Sue took a real risk with Homer's life. Thank goodness there was commonsense by the poor woman with the broken arms. I only wish City Council could have the same commonsense and rewrite our city by-laws.

    In the meantime I hope Sue learns that she is responsible for Homer and needs to keep him under control not only for his sake but to be fair to our community as a whole.


  2. It does say in the third actual paragraph, skipping the two one line paragraphs, that "big ol’ Homer happened to belong to none other than Halifax Regional Coun. Sue Uteck."

    Not that the fact that it says that makes any difference what-so-ever to the point you're making, which is a great point. :-)

  3. Joan thank you for posting this - and Heather your response is perfect and true to a T. To the woman that is now severely hurt thank you for being way 'OVER'standing. Sue is a very lucky person and under the current laws - Homer is more than a lucky dog. But as you say Heather - will his luck run out if he is not reined in and taught that over eager out of control behaviour is not to his advantage. Positive reinforcement training - recall on a dime is a must for all dogs and especially so for over eager puppies. Accidents happen - but accidents are not always viewed as just that ... read A300 and be very afraid HRM dog owners. City Council learned nothing from Bill Bruce.

  4. Nothing to add. Excellent post and comments.
    I believe it's our paranoid fear of teeth that's the difference. Most dog growls don't lead to a bite and most bites are not nearly as much of an injury than two broken arms, yet, absolutely no tolerance.

  5. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Justice4dogs Dog owners in HRM should be aware that A300 is completely arbitrary and seems to depend on who you are and how benevolent the person your dog reacts to is. My 11 year old little dog reacted to a bicycle and the man accused her of biting him, which she did not. There was no injury whatsoever and we were fined for dog at large because her leash let go. There is something wrong with this picture when someone whose dog causes injury and there is no consequence and where no injury occurs you pay?