· CBC News ·
A Winnipeg woman hospitalized after being attacked by a dog she adopted, which was saved from the dog-meat industry in South Korea, is warning others to make sure they do their research before taking in an animal.
Francine Wiebe and her family adopted the 17-month-old Korean Jindo, which they named Lego, just weeks prior to the attack.
Last Tuesday, the dog came to Wiebe following his walk and after being fed and tilted his head — a sign Wiebe had come to recognize as the dog’s way of asking for attention.
“I petted him, and then all of a sudden … he started to bare his teeth and growled ferociously, and then before I knew it he was leaping up toward my jugular,” said Wiebe.
She managed to protect her face and neck by putting up her hands, but the dog bit onto her left arm.
“The battle ensued. I pushed into his mouth, and this arm is fairly well chewed up,” she said from Grace Hospital, where she is recovering from the attack.
“One of the bites actually went into one of my bones,” Wiebe said. “I collapsed.”
She said once she went down, the dog stopped, and put his tail between his legs.
Two of Wiebe’s adult daughters witnessed the attack and called 911. They were able to corral the dog into an entryway until help arrived.
“All I could think about was to keep him away from my girls,” Wiebe said.
Wiebe suffered a severe bite to her left forearm, which fractured one of the bones. She has cuts and scratches on her chest and other arm. She’s since had surgery and needed a metal plate and screws put into her arm, which she will have the rest of her life.
Still, she’s thankful it wasn’t worse.
“Had there been a child, they would be dead. Had I not had quick reflexes to bring my arm up and block his teeth, I may not be here.”
‘We did our due diligence’
The rescue group from which Wiebe adopted the dog said it was brought into Canada by another rescue. Penny’s All Breed Animal Rescue said they placed the dog in a foster home for nearly a month before putting it up for adoption.
“He had never ever shown any signs of aggression,” said Penny Teron, who runs the rescue.
“There was no aggression shown. If there was any aggression shown he would have been removed and we would have put him into a kennel and had him assessed.”
Teron said any dog that comes into the care of her rescue is placed in a foster home for at least two weeks and assessed before being placed with a family.
“We thought we did our due diligence,” said Teron. “This should have never happened.”
Teron said six other dogs from Korea were also brought to Winnipeg and adopted through her rescue from the same organization that brought Lego here.
Dog meat is neither legal nor explicitly banned in South Korea. Animal welfare groups have described deplorable conditions at facilities where dogs are raised for meat.
Teron said while what happened to Wiebe is awful, it could have happened with any dog and she doesn’t want the attack to reflect poorly on rescue dogs or the organizations that work with them.
“This is the worst thing that could possibly happen, and it shows [rescues in] such a bad light when it’s such an isolated incident.”
Fate of dog unknown
The City of Winnipeg’s animal services department responded to the incident, and said Lego was turned over to a rescue to complete a 10-day quarantine, which is mandatory after a dog bites a person.
“The rescue indicated the dog was on a home trial at the time of the incident and still owned by their agency,” a city spokesperson said.
Wiebe says the adoption was formalized and a cheque was given to the rescue for the dog.
Officials from animal services have contacted the victim and continue to investigate, the city said. It’s unclear if there will be a hearing to decide the dog’s fate.
‘Be very, very aware’
Wiebe says she wants the dog to be destroyed to ensure it can’t attack anyone again. She says she wishes she’d done more research about the breed, and about the animal’s history.
“I think that there are some traumas that dogs experience that they will not be able to get over and be healthy,” she said.
She hopes other families who are considering adopting dogs saved from the meat trade will be cautious.
“Other families need to be made aware that if they have a generous heart and want to reach out to rescue dogs, be very, very aware of where the dogs are coming from,” Wiebe said.
She says it will take her and her family some time to recover after what happened, and says it will be a while before she can even consider adopting another dog.
“I think beyond the physical, I think it’s the psychological scarring that we’ll have to deal with — my family as well as myself.”