Gavin Lightfoot, 3, with family ties to the North Okanagan, suffered a 15-stitch gash to the face after being bit by a dog at a Calgary house birthday party. (Facebook photo)

Family with Vernon ties warns of dog danger after child bitten at Calgary party

*WARNING*: This story contains graphic images of a dog bite

Editor’s Note: This file contains graphic images. Discretion is advised.

A Calgary family with North Okanagan ties is sharing a horrifying dog-biting incident in hopes it doesn’t happen to another family.

Kristen Lightfoot, whose husband Shane grew up in Vernon and whose in-laws live in Vernon, took her son, Gavin, three, to a birthday party in Calgary Feb. 23.

At the end of the party, as Lightfoot and Gavin were getting ready to leave the house, a mixed breed dog that had been tethered and harnessed throughout the party bit Gavin in the face. The cut required 15 stitches.

“I kept my child away from the dog for the party. The attack happened when we were leaving and happened in a split second,” said Lightfoot, who shared her ordeal on her Facebook page. “I know I couldn’t have stopped this but I should have left earlier or told them (dog owners) to put the dog in a room.

“I regret this and it will haunt me forever.”

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Gavin had been to the house exactly a year before for another birthday party, but there was no dog at the house at that time.

Lightfoot’s spidey sense about the dog was tingling. She saw the dog harnessed and tethered during the party, and also saw that a friend with her young children didn’t seem concerned by the animal. Still, Lightfoot thought, there were signs.

“I could see this was a new pet. I asked about it and knew it was a rescue,” said Lightfoot. “The dog was tired and agitated by the noise the children were making.”

The kids, she said, were told not to blow party horns because it “bugged the dog.”

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She said the dog owners have not reached out to her.

“I could not have predicted how traumatic this would be for my family and, as a dog lover, the pain of what is going to happen to their family. I can’t express all the different emotions and stresses this situation brings up, especially when you know the family who owned the dog.”

Lightfoot cautions fellow dog owners – her family has a miniature Schnauzer named Monster – to get themselves informed on their dog’s temperament, anxiety and limits before putting them in a situation where they could hurt others.

“Everyone who owns a dog, especially a large dog, rescue, or notoriously dangerous breed, needs to be informed and prepared to handle these dogs and know which situations the dog can handle,” she said. “Dogs get stressed, especially around young children in a confined space like a birthday party.”

Gavin, she said, is doing fine and is recovering nicely from the trauma. He is not afraid to be around Monster.

Lightfoot said animal services in Calgary seized the dog the next day.

According to the Lightfoots, the owners have 10 days to decide if they will sign the dog over to the city. If not, there could be pending legal action from the city. The dog will be checked for rabies.

(Editor’s note: this story has been updated from the original to include new information about the dog and its future.)



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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