Coun. Brian Mayes has referred to Little Mountain Park as Winnipeg’s "orphan" because it’s owned by the city but lies just beyond its northwest boundary.
The hundreds of dog owners who walk their pets among the seemingly endless designated off-leash aspen forest trails that wind through the 160 acres are apt to have another name for the park.
But hell paid a visit to Little Mountain Park last week.
Which is how the warning poster came to be placed in the park.
"On Aug. 29, at 6:30 p.m. while walking down the main trail in the park," the accompanying text begins, "Hailey, a young golden retriever, was viciously attacked and killed by a short-hair German shepherd called Allie.
"Hailey did not provoke this and was a sweet, gentle girl that was a loving family member and is missed deeply by two young children that have lost their best friend.
"The dog that attacked and killed Hailey is known to have attacked many dogs in the park and has bitten at least one person. The owner still continues to walk his dog in the park with no remorse for what his dog has done to a beautiful dog that should still be walking in the park with her family."
The anguished message, apparently written by Hailey’s owner, concluded with these words: "This dog is deemed dangerous and should not be trusted, should not be allowed in the park for the safety of people, children and dogs."
That made it a warning poster, as well.
But as of early Wednesday afternoon — eight days after the incident — there was no indication the dog’s owner, much less the canine, had been located.
When I inquired about the incident early Wednesday, the City of Winnipeg responded dismissively, without apparent concern.
"Little Mountain Park is located in the RM of Rosser. A referral has been made to the appropriate authorities regarding this incident."
The city appeared to be playing the "orphan" card.
In the past, according to one of the park’s dog walkers, Little Mountain Park’s off-leash status hadn’t stopped Winnipeg animal control officers from ticketing people who came out of the designated area with their dogs still off leash.
When I contacted Rosser chief administrative officer Larry Wandowich on Wednesday afternoon, he was helpful and concerned a dangerous dog was still out there.
He said his lone bylaw officer learned of the incident over the long weekend from a witness. But it was only Tuesday, when Wandowich returned to work, that he heard about it from the officer and the head of Winnipeg’s parks department. Wandowich made a point of saying Rosser and the city were "working together" to investigate the tragic incident and ensure it is resolved. Even if that’s not the way the city saw it.
Meanwhile, by Tuesday evening, Wandowich had spoken to Hailey’s owner to update her on the investigation.
"And, as you can imagine," he wrote in an email, "she is heartbroken.
"All witnesses that we are aware of will be interviewed as part of this," he continued. "This is taking place already. Once we have all the information, we can then take the appropriate action. That is really all I have for you at this time, as it is an active investigation and I don’t have all the details yet."
Meanwhile, I was still puzzled by the city’s attitude.
Why would the city be taking such a hands-off approach when the CAO of little Rosser repeatedly said they were "working together"?
I asked the city for an explanation.
"Working together," came the city’s reply, "means we referred it over to them."
But, as I was saying, Winnipeg Animal Services officers have been seen handing out off-leash tickets at Little Mountain Park.
"Is that true?" I asked the city in another email. "If so, why don’t they also police reports of dangerous dogs?"
The city answered with typically precise and purposely veiled language.
"Animal services does not currently enforce the responsible pet ownership bylaw at Little Mountain Park."
"When you say ‘currently,’" I asked again, "has city animal control done that in the past?"
But by late Wednesday afternoon, I had a response from Wandowich. He had heard from his bylaw officer, who had more information. The German shepherd’s owner had been identified, located and spoken with. Again, Wandowich alluded to "working with the city," saying they still have to go over the witness reports and write up the rest of the information.
So, as of now, Allie, the accused dog-killing dog, remains with its master, although with a promise.
"The owner has said that he’s not taking his dog to any other dog parks, as well," Wandowich said.
I’m not sure how comforting that is to the Little Mountain Park dog-walking community.
As for why the city kept referring me to Rosser on the issue, something Wandowich said late in the day offered a hint.
"There is a jurisdiction situation going on with the city."
I asked when he was informed of that.
Tuesday, Wandowich said.
Suddenly, hand the leash and responsibility to another jurisdiction, apparently with no intention of returning to Little Mountain Park.
Until, perhaps, the case of the killer dog is over.
And there’s a bylaw enforcement buck in patrolling the "orphan" park again.
Read more by Gordon Sinclair Jr..