In an interview with CTV News, the owner of a pit bull stabbed to death in a Vancouver park is sharing a dramatically different account of the frightening incident.
Samantha Fairbridge said her friend Lyndsey Harkonen was walking her dog Pandora through Kitsilano Beach Park in an on-leash area Wednesday afternoon when the incident occurred.
According to Harkonen, an off-leash pug belonging to an elderly man ran up to Pandora and began barking at her.
“It freaked her out, she felt threatened and she reacted like a dog would react. That wouldn’t have happened if the other man’s dog was on a leash,” Harkonen said Thursday. “She bit the pug on the ear, and the man came over and we had tried to get them apart, and his first reaction – he pulled out a knife and was yelling ‘you f---ing bitch, you deserve to die,’ so his intention was to kill her.”
Harkonen’s recollection is in stark contrast to the details released by Vancouver police, who said the 72-year-old and his dog were approached by Harkonen, not the other way around, and that the pit bull clamped down on the small dog’s neck – not it’s ear.
Police said the man cooperated with investigators and was not facing charges as of Wednesday night.
But Harkonen and Fairbridge claim it was the man who acted out of control.
“He stabbed her, and continued to stab her after she had let go of his pug, and he was crazy,” Harkonen said. “It was the scariest thing I have ever experienced.”
The number of times the dog was stabbed has not yet been confirmed by an SPCA necropsy, but Harkonen said it was upwards of 10. Then the man took his pug and left the scene before authorities arrived, she said.
Fairbridge said she is traumatized by what happened, and said it could have been prevented if the pug’s owner had kept his dog on leash.
“That was my best friend,” she said. “To some people it’s just a dog, but that was my best friend. She was taken and it wasn’t necessary…he killed her in such a horrible way, and that’s not okay.”
Police haven’t confirmed whether or not the pug was on a leash at the time of the incident.
Fairbridge wasn’t there when her dog was stabbed to death, but said she’ll wait for an official report from an SPCA necropsy to determine how many times Pandora was stabbed before she decides what to do next.
She said she knows the incident has prompted concerns about pit bulls – but maintained her dog was as gentle as they come, often playing with her sister's infant daughter.
“I don’t want this to paint the breed in a bad light. She was not a bad dog,” she said. “Anybody who ever met her. Even people who already didn’t like put bulls, they changed their mind after they met her. She didn’t deserve this.”
SPCA spokeswoman Marcie Moriarty said the attack will likely re-ignite the debate over dangerous dogs, but urged the public not to rush to judgment.
“It’s always tragic when you hear about dogs, dangerous dogs and dog fighting, and it really highlights the issue of – to be honest – responsible pet ownership,” Moriarty said Wednesday.
The organization wants to speak to the owners of both dogs, and check the results of the necropsy, before any decision is made about the case.
The attack came less than two months after Burnaby City Council voted unanimously to boost fines on dangerous dogs and make it harder for residents to own so-called “vicious breeds.”