The dogs that mauled a 9-year-old girl Newmarket, Ont. last month while she was viewing puppies for sale with her father had been previously reported to animal services, CTV News Toronto has learned.
In a statement, Newmarket Animal Services confirmed it had already received “several concerns” about the dogs on Jackson Court prior to the July 27 incident, which left the young girl with serious injuries.
“After a dog-on-dog incident last September, Newmarket’s Animal Services issued a muzzle order to put immediate protection in place and issued all applicable charges,” Ben Worthington, Animal Services Manager for Town of Newmarket, said.
Worthington said Newmarket Animal Services continued to monitor the situation at Jackson Court when they found the owner was “not compliant.”
Earlier this week, police said officers were called to a house near Highway 404 and Davis Drive on July 27 at 6:05 p.m. for an animal complaint.
According to police, a nine-year-old girl and her father had travelled to the house to view puppies that were listed for sale. When they arrived, three bulldog-type dogs escaped from the residence and attacked the girl.
“They were severe, severe dog bite injuries to the point where she was rushed to the hospital and had to undergo extensive medical treatment,” Sgt. Clint Whitney told CTV News Toronto in an interview.
The girl was transported to hospital in serious but non-life-threatening condition. She has since been released from the hospital and continues to recover at home, police said.
The owner of the dogs, 68-year-old Newmarket resident Leslie Theodore Kovacs, was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The charges have not been tested in court. Kovacs was also charged with three counts under the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA), police added.
Police said Newmarket Animal Services attended the residence after the attack and the three dogs were surrendered by the owner and euthanized.
York Regional Police confirmed officers have investigated at least two other animal complaints at the address last August and September, though no criminal charges were laid in either of those instances.
“Pet owners have a duty to control their animals and particularly so in this case if the animals are known to be aggressive. The investigation has revealed that there was cause for concern, that the owner ought to have known his animals needed to be controlled to prevent this incident,” Whitney said.
According to the muzzle order issued by Newmarket Animal Services, dogs must be “muzzled anytime they leave the property and tethered or confined by a six-foot fence when on their property,” Worthington said.
However, the muzzle order does not require the dogs to be muzzled on the property of its owner and, in the case of the July 27 incident, the dogs were on their property when the incident occurred.
Videos taken by neighbours in the area of Jackson Court show two of the three dogs involved in the incident barking on a patio from behind an enclosure as puppies roam in the background.
One of three dogs that attacked a nine-year-old girl last month in Newmarket, Ont. as she was viewing puppies for sale with her father is seen in this image.
“I think it was a very unnecessary situation. They know their dogs, their behaviour,” one neighbour told CTV News Toronto.
“I feel scared…that is scary. I hope this little girl is going to be OK,” said another neighbour.
In 2023 so far, Whitney said police have received 75 reports of dog bite incidents across York Region. He noted that police have seen an increase in those incidents between May and July as the warmer weather set in.
“There was only one charge laid of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and that was in relation to the July 27th incident in Newmarket,” he said.
With files from Mike Walker