Special Report filed by AAF Animal Attack Files Special Report
from The Toronto Star

      2 dogs maul 16-year-old on paper route

January 14, 2001

Marissa Nelson and Nicholas Keung

Two 80-pound fighting dogs, ordered muzzled after an attack earlier this year, mauled a 16-year-old delivering newspapers yesterday.

Melanie Munro was attacked by the dogs, both a cross between a pit bull and an Akita, on Lyall Ave. at 7 a.m. The teen was delivering Toronto Suns just around the corner from her home in the Main St. and Kingston Rd. area when the attack occurred.

``Her scalp was ripped open, bleeding. Half of her left ear was torn off and there are bite marks on her legs. Their teeth just ripped through her coat and pants,'' said Melanie's 14-year-old sister Kerry.

``My sister was still in shock. She said the dogs just ran up to her, grabbed on her legs and pulled her to the ground,'' said Kerry, who was home with her grandmother, Sonia Muro, awaiting news from the hospital on Melanie's condition.

Staff Sergeant David Butt said Melanie was taken to the Hospital for Sick Children where she had surgery late last night, with her parents Sharon and Brock Munro keeping a vigil at the hospital. Melanie was listed in fair condition last night.

Butt said the dogs bit the girl about the head, the left ear, the right shoulder, the right chest and both legs.

Melanie started her day at 6:45 a.m., intending to deliver 25 papers on Lyall Ave., Gerrard St. E. and Hannaford St. The Grade 11 student at Malvern Collegiate Institute has been delivering The Saturday Sun and The Sunday Sun for about 10 months.

``We have been warned (by the paper dispatcher) to beware of dogs while on delivery,'' noted Kerry, who also delivers for The Sun.

``If we see dogs we don't know and we are suspicious, we should walk away,'' she said.

Julienne Day and Simon Jennings, who live across the street from the 46-year-old dog owner, said they heard dogs barking and women screaming.

``We jumped up, looked at the window and saw a girl lying in the middle of the street.

The woman (dog owner) was caught in the leashes scrambling to get the dogs away. They were big dogs and she is a small woman,'' said Day, who called 911.

Jennings then ran outside in his bathrobe and banged the ground with a snow shovel to try to scare the dogs off.

``The dog owner managed to pull the brown dog across the street,'' Jennings recalled.

``The other white dog was playing with the girl like it's sniffing a toy. It was horrific.''

Butt said the two dogs, which are only a year old, were on a leash at the time.

``The victim exchanged pleasantries with the woman who was walking the dog,'' Butt said, at which point the dogs overwhelmed the owner, dragging her toward the girl and the attack began.

``The owner was unable to get the dogs off,'' Butt said.

``It was a pretty severe attack. She did lose a lot of blood.''

The dog owner, who lives in a basement apartment of a two-storey house, did not answer the door to a reporter yesterday but Kerry Munro said the woman had apologized to the family and promised to have the dogs put to sleep.

Deborah Wharton, a public health manager for Toronto's east end, said the dog was supposed to be muzzled whenever it left the owner's property.

``They have bitten before,'' she said of the dogs.

The last incident resulted in a muzzling order, meaning the dogs have to muzzled every time they leave the owner's property.

The public health department can lay charges against the owner, but won't do so until they've fully investigated the incident, Wharton said.

The details of the last attack were not clear yesterday, as Wharton hadn't yet reviewed the file.

Carl Bandow, a supervisor with Animal Services, said Akitas are bred for guarding.

``They're known as a Japanese fighting dog.

``I can't paint a breed with one brush but they are one of the more aggressive breeds of dog to deal with,'' he said.

Bandow said there are two ways to have a vicious dog destroyed.

Animal services can go through the courts, using provincial legislation, or they can persuade the the owners to agree to the killing.

Animal services takes into consideration the dog's history, the severity of injuries and if the attacked was provoked, Bandow said.

``If there isn't a previous history then the courts may be more reluctant (to kill the dogs),'' he said, when asked why the dogs wouldn't have been killed after the last attack.

Bandow added that he didn't know the details of the first biting.

The dogs are now being quarantined at the Toronto Humane Society.

``Our main concern was getting the dogs put away for public safety,'' Wharton said, adding that the investigation will take some time to complete.

Copyright 1996-2001. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved.

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