Terror unleashed as dog attacks continue in Toronto

Mar 28, 2024 | GTA/Local News, News

Days after the city approved new rules for dangerous dogs, Toronto police have arrested a woman they say was responsible for a dog attack on a child over the weekend.

The attack occurred at 10:15 a.m. on March 23, when a father and his child entered the Little Norway Park, police said.

Police have identified the woman, arrested on March 25, as Patrycja Siarek, a 38-year-old resident of Toronto.

A sign on the park fence reads that no dogs are allowed.

Police said Siarek’s dog, already in the park playground and off-leash, charged toward the child through an open gate.

The dog then bit and dragged the child to the ground.

The dog, which police said caused the child “serious, life-altering” injuries, has been seized by Toronto Animal Services.

Police have charged Siarek with five separate offences, including criminal negligence which caused bodily harm and failing to prevent her dog from biting or attacking.

Other charges include allowing her dog to run at large in a public area and failing to muzzle her dangerous dog.

Last month, a woman was attacked by two dogs in the Martin Grove Road and John Garland Boulevard area.

In an emailed statement, Director of Animal Services for the City of Toronto Dr. Esther Attard, strongly urged all dog owners to keep their dogs on leashes when out in public.

Attard said there had been a rise in dog attacks in 2023, with 2,726 service requests registered for potentially dangerous acts by dogs, up from 2,653 in 2022.

Last week, following the rise in dog attacks, the city approved the creation of a public list of dangerous dogs which will list the first three digits of the dog owner’s postal code, ward number and the date of the dangerous act.

Jonathan Zacharias, a Toronto-based part-time dog trainer of nine years and a dog owner said that these attacks can be prevented.

“These are preventable attacks. You know, dog attacks do not need to happen. It’s not a dog’s nature to hurt people,” Zacharias said.

“I am of the mind that there are no bad dogs, nor are there untrainable dogs, just poorly managed or trained dogs,” he said.

The most common reason a dog would attack anyone comes from reactivity, a term with dogs that means “they have a very visceral reaction when they see certain things,” Zacharias said.

Toronto’s Animals Bylaw requires dogs must always be kept on a leash while in public, except in designated off-leash areas in parks, and under the control of their owner.

Under the Bylaw, dog owners are responsible for their dogs’ actions and must take precautions to prevent their dogs from engaging in dangerous acts, which include any bite, attack or act of menacing behaviour.

“Most dog attacks could have been prevented if dogs are on leash,” Attard said.

The city has designated dogs off-leash areas.

Keeping dogs on leashes “protects everyone in the community,” she said.