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Updated: 'Traumatic' dog attack leads to call for stronger off-leash measures on Coquitlam trails

A man says he was attacked by a 'pack' of dogs on Westwood Plateau and had to go to hospital for treatment; now he wants the city to put more signs up reminding people to leash up their pets, especially if they are walking several dogs at once

A mid-day run through forested trails near Westwood Plateau turned into a nightmare for a Coquitlam man who says he was attacked by a pack of off-leash dogs who were being exercised by a professional dog walker.

Now, he wants the city to crackdown on career dog walkers who he says “bring packs of off-leash dogs to these areas to walk them on a daily basis, posing a threat to anyone else on the trails.”

The incident occurred at the top of Westwood Plateau, where a number of popular Coquitlam parks and trails are located, including Ridge Park, which has an off-leash dog area.

The man, whose name is not being published because his case is still being dealt with by Coquitlam bylaw services, says he was bitten five times during the attack, resulting in huge bruises, deep cuts and scratches that required a course of antibiotics and a tetanus shot. 

“This was a very traumatic experience. I have been in a state of shock — physically and emotionally — since,” he told the Tri-City News in an email.

The mauling happened on April 23 while the Westwood Plateau resident was on his way back from his usual mid-day run through North Hoy Creek Park up to the West Coast Scale Trail.

He said he stopped when he saw the dogs and greeted the dog walker, but three or four of the off-leash dogs ran at him — led by a medium-sized dog that charged him and bit his thigh, holding on for “multiple seconds.”

PANIC SETS OFF DOGS, WALKER APOLOGIZES ‘PROFUSELY’

As his panic increased, the man said he tried to push the dogs away but they reacted with greater frenzy, prompting the dog walker to try to regain control of the situation and, apologizing “profusely,” the walker provided the man with their contact information.

Still, the incident left him traumatized and fearful of dogs.

The man said he’s afraid to run in his neighbourhood and he hopes dog walkers will keep their animals leashed to protect human walkers from harm, especially children.

“I have also read and heard numerous stories of others in the area having similar experiences of out of control dogs within this area, largely with dog walkers that off leash their dogs and cannot control them,” he wrote in an email.

ENHANCED SIGNAGE FOR WESTWOOD PLATEAU PARKS SOUGHT

The man wants the city to improve signage and he also suggests hikers bring bear spray in case of a dog attack.

Specifically, he’s asking for:

• improved signage in Ridge Park, specifying where the off-leash and on-leash areas end and begin

• new signage at the entrance to Eagle Mountain Park (there are four), specifying no off-leash dogs are allowed, as well as the entrance to the West Coast Scale trail and the Eagle Mountain Powerline Road trail. 

The case is being dealt with by Coquitlam bylaw, and all parties have been contacted; it’s not known whether there will be any repercussions as the investigation is not complete.

However in a statement, the city responded that bylaw enforcement and animal services already conduct routine patrols of city parks and community spaces to promote compliance with bylaws. It stated that regulatory signs are already posted at city trailheads but will review whether more are needed.

“Staff are reviewing the distribution and with the objective of adding signs where we deem there are gaps,” a spokesperson stated in an email.