Chris Ryan still gets emotional when he recalls seeing his little dog being torn apart.
“Oh my God, I’m getting choked up here,” he said, speaking about a harrowing incident that happened more than five months ago.
Chris Ryan’s miniature dachshund, Lady, is shown with tubes in her ears not long after being treated by a veterinarian after being attacked by a large mixed-breed dog in Witless Bay in April.
— Submitted photo from Chris Ryan
On April 1, his six-year-old miniature dachshund, Lady, was savagely mauled by a mixed-breed dog more than four times her size.
It happened at around 1 p.m. on a dirt road in Witless Bay, where Ryan and his common-law wife, Tina Wakeham, were walking Lady and their other miniature dachshund, Bella. Both were on leashes.
Ryan said they spotted a large dog trotting towards them. About 100 feet away, they saw its owner, Roger Williams, who had let the animal off the leash.
“It was definitely 60 pounds,” Ryan said of the large dog, adding Lady weighed 13 pounds.
Ryan said he would usually pick up his dogs when an unknown dog came near, but this time, he didn’t, believing the larger dog looked like a friendly Labrador retriever.
But when the larger dog came next to Lady, it immediately attacked.
“He grabbed her by the head and started shaking her,” Ryan recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Trained in karate, Ryan kicked the larger dog five times before it unlocked its jaw and released Lady. She fell to the ground, covered in blood.
“I was in complete shock,” he said. “Tina only told me later how many times I kicked the dog.”
He said when the larger dog — which Ryan found out was a mix of German shepherd and Labrador retriever — backed off, “Mr. Williams walked up, gave the dog a gentle tap and said ‘bad dog,’ and kept walking.”
Ryan rushed Lady to the vet, where she was treated for a three-inch gash on the back of her head, a 2 1/2-inch gash on her chin and a torn ear.
She was bleeding profusely and was in surgery for three hours. She needed 42 stitches in total.
“If I hadn’t have been there, the dog would’ve definitely killed Lady.”
Angered by the lack of response from Williams, who Ryan knew from the community, Ryan sent him the $830 vet bill.
He also called the RCMP. Ryan said they did not reply until after the third call 3 1/2 weeks later.
Williams was finally charged with unlawfully allowing a dog to cause a hazard, under the Animal Health and Protection Act.
In provincial court in St. John’s Thursday, Williams pleaded guilty and was fined $500. He has six months to pay. He had already covered the cost of the vet bill.
However, in an unusual condition, Williams was also banned from walking his dog. He is only permitted to accompany someone else who walks the dog and has control of the leash.
Ryan said it was a stipulation that Ryan had encouraged the Crown to include.
“When I spoke to the prosecutor (Dana Sullivan), that’s one of the things I definitely wanted,” said Ryan, who was unable to attend court proceedings due to a previous appointment.
“I’m glad the judge agreed to it. If it means preventing another dog, or a even a child, from being mauled, it’s worth it.”
In court, lawyers said Williams may have had the dog unleashed because he suffers epileptic seizures. Ryan said if that’s the case, it’s a good thing to have another person with the dog on outings.
Ryan said Lady is recovering well from the attack and is back to her old self.
He said he realizes many people may not consider the case important, but like many people, he considers his pets part of the family.
“It broke my heart when Lady was attacked,” Ryan said. “I cried like you wouldn’t believe for days.”
Ryan said he and Wakeham even invested in a king-sized bed to make room for the dogs at night. He also built a step so they would have easy access.
“When I have a bad day, my dogs are my therapy,” he said. “They’re my babies.”