By Alyssa Noel, The Province
A RCMP officer was attacked by three pit bulls Friday as she helped paramedics get into a home on the Mt. Currie Reserve to attend to a victim who had been bitten earlier that morning.
The incident comes just weeks before the Lil'wat Nation is set to launch a program to curb the number of stray dogs roaming the reserve, said Chief Lucinda Phillips. "Dog control has been a bit of an issue in the community over the years," she said. "We have taken steps with partners . . . to encourage spaying and neutering and dog control and the collection of stray dogs for adoption."
Paramedics contacted the Stl'atl'imx Tribal Police for backup after they were called to the home on the reserve near Pemberton at about 6: 30 a.m. with reports that a pit bull had attacked a neighbour.
When the RCMP officer, who works for the tribal police, approached the home, two tiedup pit bulls became vicious. The officer attempted to back them up so the paramedics could walk past them, but a third unleashed dog attacked her from behind, knocking her to the ground.
A resident who knew the dogs tried to help her, but was bit too. The officer, still on the ground, continued to fight back until the resident managed to get the pit bulls into kennels.
The male victim, whose face and arm were punctured, and the officer were rushed to the Pemberton Medical Clinic.
The officer was released later that afternoon, but the man remained in hospital.
"He had up to 48 stitches, but [he's] definitely working toward a full recovery," Phillips said. "We do wish him and the RCMP member a full recovery."
Police had been called to deal with the dogs before. In 2008, residents reported the animals were chasing people in the area. Then in June they bit two people. No one was seriously injured.
The chief and council and the tribal police ordered the owner to kill all three dogs, she added.
They were destroyed later that day.
Tribal police continue to investigate. The owner could face charges of criminal negligence, said Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair with Pemberton RCMP.
In a month and a half, council will launch a project to register dogs on the reserve, tag them and even organize a sort of dog amnesty where owners can give up dogs they can't take care of.
The ballooning dog population "has been an ongoing issue," Phillips said. "Obviously, more work remains to be done as a community and as responsible dog owners."