The Regional District of North Okanagan’s decree Tuesday to dog owners to leash their animals when using the Okanagan Rail Trail comes a few days late for a North Okanagan man.
The gentleman, who did not want to be identified, said he was bit four times on his leg and ankle Sunday morning by an off-leash German shepherd while he was cycling southbound along the trail.
The incident happened just after 8 a.m. near the nine kilometre mark of the trail, close to Kekuli Bay.
“As the dog was meandering on the trail, as I came to pass (the owner was looking out to the lake), I slowed down so as to not hit it,” said the man. “The dog was right at my front wheel. I had almost come to a full stop. It bit me twice on the left calf; I almost fell over. I started to pedal away and it bit me on the left ankle.
“The owner said ‘Stop. Don’t.’ I believe he was talking to the dog. As I pedalled away I said, ‘What the hell have you got there?’ He did not say anything else that I heard.”
The man was able to cycle away and used his cell phone to call for an ambulance.
“The ambulance arrived at around 9:15 a.m. (apparently from Kelowna),” said the man. “The bite marks didn’t hurt then (they do now). They thought I might need stitches but once they cleaned the wound, they saw there were two sets of punctures.
“It wasn’t until I got home and had a shower that I realized there were another two sets of bite marks on my ankle.”
RCMP from Vernon-North Okanagan detachment, with assistance from Lake Country officers, were called to the scene. Spokesperson Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey confirmed the bites.
“The cyclist, who sustained non-life threatening injuries to his lower leg, was assessed by BC Ambulance Service,” said O’Donaghey. “The victim described the canine as a full grown German shepherd and the dog’s owner as a Caucasian male in his 40s, with a moustache and seen wearing a red shirt.
“Others in the area told police that they two have had encounters with what they believe to be the same dog, they describe as aggressive, in recent months. Police were unable to track down the animal or its owner. The investigation, being led by the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP, continues at this time.”
The Okanagan Rail Trail holds its grand opening Thursday in Oyama.
The RDNO announced Tuesday it will be taking extra precautions to ensure that dogs remain on leashes while enjoying trail time with their owners.
“Everyone is excited for the official opening of the trail, but owners are kindly reminded that their dogs must remain on leashes,” said Keith Pinkoski, parks manager. “Along with the current site signage, we will have our contractor monitoring the trail more regularly to ensure owner compliance with the RDNO Dog Control Bylaw to reduce the risk of unwanted dog interactions. We want to ensure users feel safe and maximize enjoyment while on the trail.”
The RDNO Dog Control Bylaw No. 2466 provides dog control throughout the North Okanagan, which now includes the newly completed Okanagan Rail Trail.
The bylaw is intended to help improve dog owner responsibility and accountability. Responsible dog owners must make sure their pets are properly leashed, well behaved, trained and do not pose a threat to RDNO trail users or other animals.
Residents should take note that non-compliance to this bylaw could result in owner fines of up to $2,000.