Dog euthanized after off-leash attack at Willows Beach

Champ had to be euthanized after a dog attack at Willows Beach.

An Oak Bay family is grieving the loss of their dog after it was attacked at Willows Beach.

The sandy stretch of beach near Cattle Point is a favourite route for Carol Parlow, and she was there at 11:30 Tuesday morning with her dog, a 10 year-old chihuahua mix named Champ.

“I caught out of the corner of my eye a woman and a dog playing by the edge of the water,” Parlow said. “And suddenly the dog made a beeline for my dog, picked him up and shook him so badly, and he didn’t survive.”

Parlow had her dog on a leash. The other dog was not. After separating the two dogs, she knew immediately Champ’s injuries were serious.

“He was screaming, and I had to get him away from the other dog, and I had to get him home and get some help,” she says.

In her haste to try and get Champ to safety, she didn’t get the other dog owner’s details. She describes her as being around 40, with a beige jacket and shorter hair. Parlow says the dog isn’t one she’d typically figure to be aggressive.

“It was a doodle of some kind,” Parlow said. “It was large, about the size of a standard poodle.”

The attack lasted only seconds but left Champ with severe injuries.

“Thoracic traumatic injuries, rib fractures, punctured lung, lots of visceral injury inside the thorax,” says Parlow’s husband Joseph Fairbrother. “It was to the point his life couldn’t be maintained no matter what people would have done so we decided to euthanize him at that point.”

“It’s devastating,” says Parlow, who picked up Champ as a rescue.

Willows Beach is a favourite for owners who want to their dogs to socialize off-leash with other dogs, and enjoy the running space on the beach when the tide is out. And while Carol and Joseph don’t want to tell others what they can and can’t do with their dogs, the law is clear.

“There are no off leash areas on this beach,” says Parlow.

And she’s correct. Federal signage near the main parking lot reads “No person who owns a dog or cat shall permit the dog or cat to run at large in a migratory bird sanctuary.”

The entirety of Willows Beach is a migratory bird sanctuary.

“Federal regulations for the beach are that dogs have to be on a leash at all times,” says Oak Bay mayor Kevin Murdoch.

Enforcing the bylaw is strictly the responsibility of federal authorities, and the definition of “at large” is up for interpretation.

“Federally they interpret that as leashed. Municipally we interpret that as being under control of the owner.” Parlow says several weeks ago federal officers were on the beach telling dog owners to leash their animals. “They [dog owners] were furious.”

Murdoch admits the signage at Willows could be made clearer, that the onus is on dog owners.

“Dogs have to be under control no matter where you are,” he says.

The fact that she’s in the right is of no importance to Parlow, but she wants to speak to the woman whose dog inflicted so much harm on hers.

“We’d like to know who you are and we’d like to make sure that your dog is assessed and examined and doesn’t have the opportunity to hurt another dog or a child,” Parlow said.

Parlow says the dog was female with a pink collar. If you have any information on this incident you are asked to contact Victoria Animal Control.

Jordan CunninghamJordan Cunningham

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