A close-up of one of the dog bites Yeh sustained during the attack on Oct. 23 in Clearbrook Park’s off-leash area. (Photo courtesy of David Yeh.)

Abbotsford man attacked by dog in off-leash park vexed at careless dog owners, reporting procedures

Man claims process for formally reporting the incident was unclear and frustrating

David Yeh has lived in Abbotsford for less than a year, but as of last week he won’t be taking his dog to the city’s off-leash parks anymore.

Yeh says he and his 60-pound Eurasier, Yohan, were attacked by a pit bull in Clearbrook Park’s off-leash area on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

“I had blood all over [my] jacket and the dog park,” Yeh said. “I have gone to the emergency and now I’m on five days of antibiotics. [I have] a sprained wrist and a very swollen hand that I can’t even use chopsticks with.”

He said he has been in several scary situations in Abbotsford’s dog parks, but last Wednesday will be his last visit for two reasons: other dog owners’ lack of care and the trouble he had reporting the incident.

Yeh said he was near the entrance of the park around 5:30 p.m. when a pit bull ran up and attacked his dog without warning.

“I yelled and screamed at the other owner and he came by and did not really attempt to pull his dog off,” he said. “I intervened and was bitten in the process.”

When he tried to report the incident to authorities, Yeh said he was continually frustrated by confusion over what channel to make the report.

“Immediately after the attack, I called 911 and was informed, in short, that there was no crime in progress so I should call the non-emergency [line],” he said. “I called the non-emergency after I got home, only to be told I should call animal control. I called animal control and their answering machine tells me to call the police non-emergency.”

The Fraser Valley Regional District’s animal control centre investigates all aggressive dog incidents in Abbotsford, but is only open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, said Dustin Thiessen, animal control bylaw supervisor for the district.

“If a call is received after hours, our voicemail directs callers to leave a message or, in the case of a dog attack, to contact the local police. The police detachments in our service area have an after-hours emergency number to contact our on-call staff in the case of any imminent threat to public safety,” Thiessen said.

Yeh also said he was upset that no incident report was taken at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where he was told by staff to contact police again.

“The hospitals in Ontario are required to report these incidents to the police or animal control,” he said.

Fraser Health is only responsible for addressing a patient’s medical needs when attacked by an animal, says Aletta Vanderheyden, Fraser Health’s senior consultant for public affairs.

“If a person is bitten by an animal, it is their responsibility to report the incident to animal control services,” Vanderheyden said.

Recent dog-bite incidents, and his personal experience in the dog parks, are making Yeh worried for others citizens around the city.

“It will only be [a matter of] time until someone gets very seriously injured or killed.”

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