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Weekend dog attack highlights need for training: humane society

Saturday's incident was not the first high-profile dog attack in the city this year. In February, a 54-year-old woman was attacked by two off leash dogs while waiting for a bus in Etobicoke.  (Dr. Alan Lipkin/Shutterstock - image credit)
Saturday's incident was not the first high-profile dog attack in the city this year. In February, a 54-year-old woman was attacked by two off leash dogs while waiting for a bus in Etobicoke. (Dr. Alan Lipkin/Shutterstock - image credit)

The Toronto Humane Society said early training and socialization are key to ensuring a dog doesn't act aggressively, in response to a child being taken to hospital with serious, life-altering injuries following a dog attack Saturday.

The attack happened in Little Norway Park near Lake Shore Boulevard West and Bathurst Street on Saturday morning. A woman and her off-leash dog were inside a playground area when the dog allegedly "charged" through an open gate toward a child that was walking with their father, police said.

After both the woman and the child's father got the dog to release the child, the woman fled with her dog, according to police.

Police arrested a 38-year-old woman on Sunday in relation to the attack, according to a Monday news release. She has been taken into custody, police say, and faces five charges, including criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failing to prevent a dog from biting or attacking.

"Early training and socialization are fundamental for all dogs to help mitigate the risk of aggressive behaviour, especially when interacting with children," said a news release issued by the Toronto Humane Society on Monday.

"Adhering to leash regulations in public areas is a simple yet effective way to prevent potential incidents, particularly in densely populated regions like Toronto."

Saturday's incident was not the first high-profile dog attack in the city this year. In February, a 54-year-old woman was attacked by two off leash dogs while waiting for a bus in Etobicoke. Her right arm was broken in the attack.

Attack comes after dangerous dog registry approved by council

On March 21, a few days before the Saturday attack, the city approved a motion to create a registry of dangerous dogs that will include the dog's name, breed and colour, and the date of the dangerous act.

Coun. Paula Fletcher was behind the motion. Speaking to CBC Toronto after Saturday's attack, she said she wants to see a stronger reaction and follow up when it comes to injuries caused by dogs.

"It's not a normal circumstance and my motion and my desire is to see dogs of this nature dealt with in a very strong way," Fletcher said. "It's not 'Fluffy' down the street here. It's a very dangerous animal."

Toronto police say the owner of a dog involved in a life-altering attack on a child was arrested. (Toronto Police Service handout)

The park has signs stating dogs are not allowed in the playground. After police released images of the suspect, people in the area put them up in the park.

Margaret Buys, who was walking her dog in the park on Monday, said she was glad the suspect had been found by police.

"Something needs to be done. And people in the neighborhood need to know that this isn't OK," she said.