DARTMOUTH, N.S. – The owner of an American Staffordshire Terrier (known as a pit bull) that killed a Pomeranian said she’s taking responsibility for what she sees as a tragic mistake.
“I want people to know that I am really sorry for what happened, and for all the pain that I caused to Rachelle and her family,” said an emotional Kassandra Allard-Morin, owner of Bruce, on Saturday.
She referenced Rachelle Coward, the owner of the Pomeranian named Diamond. Bruce appeared unexpectedly on Coward’s driveway on Monday, then chased Diamond into her living room and attacked.
Coward said she believed Diamond was dead by the time Bruce dragged the dog next door, leaving a bloody trail of snow.
“She was like a family member like almost, basically, like my child,” she said last Tuesday.
Rachelle Coward’s dog was killed by a dog that chased it into her home yesterday: https://t.co/tV7RuDwabQ #Dartmouth pic.twitter长沙桑拿/oHyrpX0Nax
— Steve Silva (@SteveCSilva) December 15, 2015
Kassandra Allard-Morin and her partner have since been charged with having an unlicensed dog, allowing a dog to run at large, and one charge of an animal attack.
She said Bruce was leashed in her backyard (not fenced) that morning when the collar, which was working fine for months prior, broke.
“It was a mistake that he was unsupervised, and we would never let that happen again,” said Allard-Morin.
Bruce was adopted in November 2014. He had behavioural problems with other dogs, and food allergies, which meant the owner would have to pay more for dog food; the idea of no one wanting him for those reasons spurred her to adopt him, she said.
“Any dog can become aggressive”
Bruce took obedience classes, and his behaviour improved to point the couple felt comfortable adopting another dog.
“Any dog can become aggressive. I don’t believe that they’re inherently more aggressive than any other breed out there,” said Ted Efthymiadis, a professional dog trainer at Mango Dogs in Halifax.
Still, he said that one of the issues with pit bulls is that, because of their size and strength, when things go wrong, things can go very wrong.
He hasn’t worked with Bruce, but pointed out that other kinds of dogs can kill, and an aggressive dog isn’t always a lost cause.
Efthymiadis said, while some may think pit bulls can’t be trained, “that’s absolutely not the case. I’ve rehabilitated many in my career, and I’ll continue to do so.”
Bruce was taken to Homeward Bound City Pound after the attack. Allard-Morin said she has brought him toys and the specialized food he needs but hasn’t been allowed to see him.
She said she and her partner will pay whichever fines are potentially given to them; the two are scheduled to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court on January 7.
The main concern is the possibility the dog will be put down, a decision she said is being burdened by the stigma of pit bulls.
“He’s automatically being judged more harshly, and we don’t want him to be put down because this is something we can stop from happening again,” Allard-Morin said, adding that she’s willing to make any necessary changes, such as making Bruce wear a muzzle, to get him back.
She said she has met with Coward to apologize, and offered to pay Diamond’s cremation costs.