Katherine Ralph of Halifax said that the man, a 74-year-old American tourist, had no idea the attack had been so serious.
Ralph, who is originally from Jackson’s Arm, and a friend were walking her two small Havanese dogs on the Western Brook Pond hiking trail when they passed the man and his larger black Labrador retriever mix.
The Lab grabbed Donk, the younger of Ralph’s two dogs, and violently shook the nine-pound dog in its mouth. Ralph immediately left the area to seek medical attention for Donk and never had time to talk to the bigger dog’s owner.
Donk made it to a veterinarian, but later died from his injuries.
Following a social media appeal to find the man, the tourist was located by the RCMP and Parks Canada authorities. Ralph was given his name and number and advised the man had indicated he was receptive to her calling him.
The man told Ralph the clasp on his dog’s leash had broken, which resulted in his dog getting away from him in the moments before Donk was attacked.
“He told me he didn’t realize how bad it was and didn’t know my dog had died,” she said. “He was clearly upset that this happened and was not trying to avoid responsibility at all.”
The man told Ralph his dog has no history of aggression. He told her the dog does seem to have an aversion to crows and may have thought her small black dog was a crow.
Ralph said she believed the man’s sincerity, but still took little comfort from the fact she doesn’t know for sure if this dog will ever harm another smaller animal in the future.
The Parks Canada website says pets must be leashed at all times in areas of the park where they are permitted.
Ralph said officials with Parks Canada, which is the law enforcement agency for the national park, gave her no indication any charges or other action would be taken in the case.
The Western Star inquired with Parks Canada about the status of the investigation it had initiated regarding this particular incident. No update was provided as of deadline Wednesday.
“It doesn’t give me much relief knowing that he will probably just go on back to the United States with his dog and there is nothing we can do to prevent this from happening again,” she said. “All we can do is think the best and try to move on.”
Ralph said the man was floored to hear she had to shell out more than $3,300 in vet bills in the futile effort to save Donk. He said he would send her a cheque for $150 right away and would make arrangements to send her more to offset the unexpected costs when he returns home.
Parks Canada’s regulations: http://bit.ly/2vMvzpL