Does a civilized society permit a dog owner to simply walk away without sanction after their pet has mangled an innocent person?
We say no. But that is apparently what happened last week in Whalley.
A pit bull owner who police say left the scene with his dog after it attacked a 65-year-old woman outside a convenience store on Scott Road, ripping her arm open, was located by authorities a few days later but is not facing charges.
The victim’s arm was mangled and she required hospitalization and surgery after the dog attacked her outside the Mac’s convenience store at 92nd Avenue and Scott Road on June 20. The Surrey RCMP and City of Surrey’s Animal Control Office received multiple tips from the public in the days that followed, found the dog’s owner, and the animal was destroyed.
The owner, however, has not been charged with any offence.
It is illegal in B.C. to not remain at the scene of a traffic collision but, as police have noted, there is no law requiring someone to remain at the scene of a dog bite.
Quebec has a law that requires citizens to help someone whose life is in peril. Denmark, France, Germany, Russia and Serbia have similar laws.
In the common law of most English-speaking nations, however, citizens are not bound by any general duty to try to rescue someone else.
Clearly, there needs to be a federal law holding dog owners accountable for their own behaviour – such as leaving the scene – after their pet damages somebody else.
Perhaps one of our six enterprising local Members of Parliament might see fit to champion a private members bill in an effort to make this so.
It would be a good law, where currently there is none.