Victim killed by her own dog while defending grandchild
CALGARY, Alberta––Lisa Lloyd, 50, of Langdon, Alberta, killed by her own pit bull/boxer mix on September 16, 2018 while defending her two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter from attack, lived about 21 miles, 28 minutes of travel time, from Calgary Animal Services.
“The child was taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries,” reported Vanessa Hrvatin of the Calgary Herald.
Despite proximity, Calgary Animal Services does not have the local animal control jurisdiction; Rocky View County does, housing impounded dogs with either the Calgary Humane Society or the Cochrane Humane Society.
But Calgary Animal Services over the past 20 years has enjoyed an unearned and indeed fictitious reputation for having allegedly prevented dog attacks in the city and suburbs through the introduction of something called the “Calgary model” of animal care and control regulation.
PetSmart Charities exec amplifies the Calgary fiction
For instance, trumpeted PetSmart Charities chief of analytics Roger Haston in a spring 2018 video presentation entitled “The future of animal welfare – a look back, around and forward”:
“Calgary [was] able to avoid implementing breed-specific legislation by instead educating the general population, requiring licensing and registration, providing early intervention and enforcing strict and severe laws.”
Calgary bylaw based on 1985 Los Angeles ordinance
Indeed, Calgary Animal Services has repeatedly thwarted efforts by city councilors to introduce breed-specific legislation, to combat soaring numbers of pit bull attacks. Breed-specific ordinances are already in effect in more than three dozen Alberta communities,
Otherwise, the Calgary dog licensing and registration requirements are substantially identical to those of their model, the Los Angeles animal control ordinance introduced in 1985. The Calgary public education, intervention, and law enforcement programs are also little different from those of most other major North American cities.
There was once a unique “Calgary model” for animal care and control, introduced by former police officer Jerry Aschenbrenner, who headed Calgary Animal Services from 1975 until 2000.
Aschenbrenner enforced the Calgary edition of the 1985 Los Angeles ordinance by promoting incentive-based dog licensing, instead of emphasizing the penalties for non-compliance.
Thereby, Aschenbrenner boosted licensing compliance in Calgary from the conventional range of less than 25% to an unheard of 80%-plus.
This was done by making licensing inexpensive––and easy.
Instead of trying to raise animal control revenues and budget through collecting fines, Aschenbrenner on the one hand pushed sales volume, and on the other, cut animal control costs by replacing expensive impoundments with free rides home for licensed dogs found running at large, if the dogs had no bite history.
“Bylaw Bill” dismantled what had worked
The incentive-based Aschenbrenner approach has yet to be replicated anywhere else.
His successor, Bill Bruce, nicknamed “Bylaw Bill,” initially followed Aschenbrenner’s lead. Bruce by 2005 raised dog licensing compliance to more than 90%, returning 88% of impounded dogs to their homes.
But then, trying to convert the high licensing compliance rate into greater departmental income, Bruce jacked up the Calgary dog licensing fees to the conventional range and reinstituted the pre-Aschenbrenner high impoundment fees.
The “Calgary Stampede”
The authentic “Calgary model” was already history before the 2007 Nathan Winograd book Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation & the No Kill Revolution in America started what might be dubbed the “Calgary Stampede.”
Winograd paraphrased, without updating and verifying, old news reports of the Aschenbrenner success, touching off a “no kill” advocacy stampede to promote the so-called “Calgary model” just as the wheels came off the chuckwagon.
Pit bulls, dog attacks, and dogfighting had barely been known in Calgary during Aschenbrenner’s tenure. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, however, Calgary became a popular destination for rescue transporters. The Calgary pit bull population soared, as did related incidents.
Contending that enforcing the licensing law and other conventional dog ordinances could prevent dogfighting and dog attacks without any need for breed-specific laws, Bruce might have learned otherwise by 2009, when dogfighting burst into the open locally, and pit bulls were repeatedly released from vans to attack residents of East Asian descent, injuring a three-year-old, a four-year-old, and men aged 70, 78, and about 55. A 27-year-old woman eventually pleaded guilty in connection with three of the attacks. Additional suspects were beyond Calgary jurisdiction.
There were a then-record 58 dog bites reported in Calgary in 2009, 102 in 2010, 127 in 2011 and 201 in 2012, 70% of the total reportedly by pit bulls, when Bruce retired in mid-year.
Three disfiguring pit bull attacks occurred in Calgary during Bruce’s last three months as animal control chief, along with a fatal attack on an infant inflicted by a husky.
Ex-animal control chief became pit pusher
Bruce went on to become a roving consultant for the pro-pit bull National Canine Foundation, an arm of the Animal Farm Foundation pit bull advocacy front.
In October 2013, for example, Bruce toured Australia, speaking against breed-specific legislation that was advanced after four-year-old Ayen Chol was killed in her own living room by a passing pit bull who ran into her home in St. Albans, Victoria, in August 2011.
The numbers of dog attacks reported in Calgary dipped slightly post-Bruce to 198 in 2013, but then rose to 244 in 2014.
Since then the statistics, prominently posted under both Aschenbrenner and Bruce, have disappeared from the Calgary Animal Services web site.
Lack of transparency
CBC News reporter Kathryn Marlow noted a perceived recent lack of transparency at Calgary Animal Services in a June 27, 2018 account of how two off-leash pit bulls killed two smaller dogs belonging to Calgary resident Joanne Drodge.
“The owners of the pit bulls were issued a ticket,” Marlow recounted “but Drodge is frustrated with how the city handled the situation. She says it was hard to get any information. She was told the dogs were returned to their owners, because the bylaw department was confident something like that wouldn’t happen again — but she doesn’t know why they came to that conclusion.”
“Calgary model” dead as the dinosaurs
One need not spend long in the lobby at Calgary Animal Services these days to confirm first-hand that the so-called “Calgary model” is now as dead as the dinosaurs whose remains are displayed at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, sixty miles east, half an hour north of Langdon, where Lisa Lloyd lost her life.
There is a difference, though: Royal Tyrell Museum personnel are eager to show visitors what once existed, and explain how the many extinct species evolved before disappearing.
In contrast to the Aschenbrenner era, Calgary Animal Services now seems eager to erase all memory of the easily accessible, public-friendly, media-savvy, helping-oriented agency it once was.
The Calgary Animal Services complex of the Aschenbrenner era was an improvised combination of a converted bus barn, subdivided by chain link fencing into dog runs, with offices and a crowded cat room in converted mobile homes. Visitors could walk in off the street, ask to see the dogs, and be shown the sparse inventory of impounds who were not already on their way home in vans.
Aschenbrenner retired coincidental with the long awaited completion of the current Calgary Animal Services complex. How much it may have changed since then is unclear. What is clear is that the kennels are off limits to visitors. Media are unwelcome: ANIMALS 24-7 tried by email, telephone, and in person from May 31, 2018 to June 20, 2018 to arrange a visit and meeting with senior personnel. Only in person did we receive any response at all, and that response was essentially stonewalling.
Writing on the wall
A bulletin board on the wall indicated why: about 75% of the dogs available for adoption were pit bulls, mostly described in terms hinting that they would not be safe in homes with other animals, children, or seniors.
Between Bill Bruce and today, some Calgary Animal Services senior personnel have indicated that a change in departmental philosophy is in order.
“I’m very concerned about pit bulls and Rottweilers,” Animal & Bylaw Services director Ryan Jestin told Sammy Hudes of the Calgary Herald in May 2015. “There’s a history, there’s a reason why places like the city of Toronto have banned them outright. Is that a way we want to go in Calgary? I’m not so sure, but quite clearly we have to take additional steps to make sure owners understand the ramifications of owning a breed that may potentially harm somebody.”
Victims include animal control officer
Observed Calgary chief bylaw officer Alvin Murray in August 2016, to Cameron French of the Daily Brew, “We’ve seen an increase in the number of aggressive incidents involving those rescue dogs that are being brought in. The vast majority of the dogs have been pit bulls. Am I concerned that we’re seeing an influx of them? Yes, I am.”
But both Jestin and Murray left Calgary Animal Services soon after speaking out, while the municipal animal control situation further deteriorates.
Among the Calgary victims thus far in 2018 have been a bylaw officer who was injured in May while investigating a pit bull attack on another dog in the Rosscarrack neighborhood, just northwest of the city shelter, and a 10-year-old girl who suffered facial bites from a pit bull a few days after Lloyd was killed.