As Marie Ewanchuk strolled along a trail near her North Ridge home, she had no idea a dog would attack her.
The St. Albert grandmother was walking the trails enjoying the warm Sunday weather with two grandchildren when the altercation occurred.
“My grandson was looking for PokĂ©mon. A lady was walking ahead of us with a black dog. The dog turned around and came at us. He was on a leash, but she let go. He jumped on me. I stepped backwards and fell. I hit the back of my head, my tailbone, my lower back, my shoulder and my neck,” said Ewanchuk.
While falling, she also lost her glasses. As pain ripped through her body, Ewanchuk started to cry.
The dog owner grabbed the dog’s leash and asked Ewanchuk if she was “OK.”
When Ewanchuk, still lying on the ground, replied, “No,” the dog owner turned in the opposite direction and headed away from the scene without rendering assistance.
Ewanchuk’s grandchildren had briefly scattered but immediately helped their grandmother to regain her footing and guided her home.
Bitten years previously, the petite five-foot one-inch grandmother has a natural fear of dogs. She believes the dog targeted her because it could smell the scent of fear.
“It wasn’t a huge dog, but it was aggressive. It went up to my knees and that’s why I was backing up.”
For her, walking the trails is a pleasure-filled pastime. Unfortunately on numerous occasions she’s seen dogs off a leash.
“I’m hoping dog owners will be more responsible and have a good grip on the leash. It’s terrifying. I am willing to share the trails, but I want them to respect my right to walk the trails and not be afraid.”
On Monday after the attack, Ewanchuk continued to have a headache and feel pain in her lower back. Her treatment is anti-inflammatory medication.
“All I ask is to feel safe and enjoy the walks. My heart starts to pound when I see a dog bounding towards me. I just want to share the trails safely.”
Veterinary behaviourist Elsa Flint noted there is no cardinal rule when reacting to a dog attack. However, the best advice is to stay calm, stand still, fold your arms and avoid eye contact.
“If you run and scream that will only provoke the dog,” said Flint.
Information on the City of St. Albert’s new animal by-law came into effect on Sept. 1, 2014. It is available online at stalbert.ca/city-services/emergency-protective-services/municipal-enforcement/animal-bylaw/.
The telephone number for the 24-hour animal control services complaint line is 780-458-7700.