Dog attack leaves senior with bite wounds, missing fingertip
An elderly man is speaking out after a vicious dog attack in West Vancouver that left him with serious injuries late last week.
Gary Cuthbert said he was on his daily walk under the north foot of the Lions Gate Bridge Friday when he crossed paths with a woman with two dogs, one of which he described as "large" and "very aggressive.
"All of a sudden, the dog attacked me, knocked me completely over," the 82-year-old told CTV News Wednesday. "All I was thinking was I've got to protect my neck. I don't want the dog getting my neck. It could kill me."
Despite Cuthbert's efforts to protect himself, the mauling left him with bite wounds to the right side of his body, including on his forearm, shoulder and ear. He also lost the tip of his right index finger in the attack.
"I think he would've torn me apart," he said, but the woman was eventually able to pull the dog off him and lead the animal away.
At that point, Cuthbert said, the dog owner wasn't able to find her cellphone. And without a phone of his own to call for help, he decided to make his way home.
"You think I'm going to stand here for half an hour waiting for her? No," he said.
Cuthbert called 911 from home and received the help he needed. He said a plastic surgeon is working on reconstructing his ear.
The West Vancouver Police Department said it is investigating, confirming that it was notified about an attack Friday involving a 4 ½-year-old Labrador-Rhodesian Ridgeback mix.
Const. Jeff Palmer told CTV the department issued an appeal to the public for information Tuesday. The next morning, he said, a person who identified themselves as the dog's owner contacted them, claiming the dog had been euthanized by a vet on the Monday after the attack.
Police are still waiting for an official, voluntary statement from that person, whom Palmer descried as "very distraught" and "very concerned for the well-being of the elderly victim."
Investigators also have yet to confirm that the dog was in fact put down and are hoping the dog owner will provide documentation from a vet.
According to the constable, the WVPD will continue to investigate the incident and take further action as necessary. So far, however, there are no charges involved in the case and police will not identify the dog owner.
Palmer said the mauling happened on Squamish First Nation territory, where local animal control officials are also looking into the incident.
Cuthbert said he was happy to hear the animal had been put down, despite being a self-proclaimed dog lover.
"It's too dangerous. You've got a dog like that, you've got one of two choices: Either put it down or muzzle it permanently. That's all you can do," he said. "I don't want somebody else to go through the same mess that I'm going through."
But his message to the dog owner was ultimately one of forgiveness.
"She made a mistake. How can I punish a woman for making a mistake? Her mind will do the work for me," Cuthbert said. "She's the one who's going to have to live with it because this event is going to be with her for the rest of her life."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson