Woman whose dog was killed in ‘vicious’ attack says stricter rules needed for pet owners

A Calgary woman says stricter rules for pet owners are needed after her pooch was fatally attacked by a “vicious” dog whose handler at the time fled the scene.

On Wednesday, Rikki Segall, 31, was walking her five-year-old dog Athena at a playground near the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association in northeast Calgary — one of their usual routes.

That’s when a “vicious dog,” which she said resembled a pitbull, came running up to them and started attacking Athena.

Segall said she tried to fend off the dog but wasn’t able to.

“It was too heavy,” she said. “I was screaming for help. All the parents and the children at the playground area came running … I was just in such shock.”

She says a man who was with the offending dog eventually managed to get a hold of the animal. Segall says the man told her he would be back, but he never returned.

“Athena was very badly injured, blood all over the place,” she said.

Segall managed to get a ride to a 24-hour veterinarian clinic. Athena had emergency surgery but went into cardiac arrest and died.

Segall was not injured.

“The haunting images keep replaying in my head,” she said. “Just so many thoughts of what I could have done differently and if only I hadn’t went for a walk there that night.”

Rikki Segall says her pooch was viciously attacked by another dog on Wednesday evening while they were out walking near the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association. (Submitted by Rikki Segall)

Segall said she did everything she could to protect Athena.

“She was my pride and joy,” she said. “I just loved her so much.”

Man charged, dog turned over to city

People at the scene took photos of the man before he left and shared it on social media to identify and find him. 

According to Fausto Ricioppo, a duty inspector with Calgary Community Standards, the offending canine was eventually turned over to the city and is now being quarantined in a shelter — and will remain there until the case is before the courts.

Two citations were issued to the man who was in charge of the offending dog that evening — he is not the owner, Ricioppo said.

The citations are for damage to an animal causing death as well as for a pet being at-large. Both require mandatory court appearances.

“It’s an active investigation,” Ricioppo said. “[The dog] got loose and zoned in on another dog and as a result caused some injuries to that dog.”

Ricioppo says he couldn’t provide any further details such as names of people involved nor the breed of the offending dog. 

Some respondents of a recent City of Calgary engagement survey said rules need to be tighter for “vicious dogs.” In particular, they want such dogs to be better controlled and have limited contact with others.

The feedback is part of the city’s recent efforts to put out feelers on what amendments might need to be made on the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, which was last updated 12 years ago. A survey is still up for the next phase on the city’s website.

Five-year-old Athena died in surgery after being attacked by another dog on Wednesday evening, according to owner Rikki Segall. (Submitted by Rikki Segall)

Segall says she agrees that rules should be stricter to manage problem dogs.

“I know that I’m not the first person that this has happened to. Many people have come forward with their stories,” Segall said.

“If it’s a dog that’s not good around people or other animals, make sure they have a muzzle on and make sure they can’t get out of the yard, and just take extra precautions.”

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