An Alaskan malamute competes in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in February. RCMP said two Alaskan malamutes have been seized after a seven-year-old girl was mauled and killed in Oakbank, Man., over the weekend. Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press
A seven-year-old girl is dead after being mauled by two dogs belonging to friends of her family near Oakbank, Man.
RCMP said the girl was attacked just before 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. She was rushed to the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg where she was pronounced dead.
RCMP said the girl was at the home of family friends when she was attacked. Shortly after, Springfield Animal Control seized two Alaskan malamute dogs.
On its Facebook page, Rural Animal Management Services, posted Sunday evening that "there will be no press release or casual discussion from us surrounding today's tragic events. Our thoughts go out to all those impacted by this terrible incident."
Dan Fryer, an animal control and animal protection officer with the service, said the two dogs have not been destroyed and have not been acting aggressively since being seized.
RCMP said they will not be releasing the name of the girl but did say she was from St. Andrews.
Grief counsellors called into school
CBC News has learned the girl went to St. Andrews School, and grief counsellors have been sent to the school to help students and parents deal with the tragedy.
Scot Kwasnitza, superintendent of Lord Selkirk School Division where St. Andrew’s School is located, said officials contacted the families who had children in the little girl’s class to help parents explain what happened.
“The school administration also was able to contact all of the parents of the students in her Grade 2 class,” he said. “They’re obviously an important part of the discussion, you know. They’ll have this discussion with their children at home, and so we’ve tried to put these resources in place that will help them to discuss this openly and fairly.”
Kwasnitza added counsellors will be available at the schools for the next few days to help families, but he said children have already started to respond.
“They’ve already started to write cards – that’s another way of expressing their grief,” he said.
Big dogs must be watched, expert says
The head of the Winnipeg Humane Society said Alaskan malamutes are normally friendly dogs, but any large dogs should be under constant supervision when they’re around children.
“Big dogs are of concern with small children,” said Bill McDonald. “It doesn’t matter the breed, whether it is an Alaskan malamute or any large breed dog from a collie to a German shepherd.”
McDonald said he’s only heard of children being mauled to death in the province by packs of dogs on remote First Nations communities.
“It’s usually the case of an aboriginal community with pack animals running at large,” said McDonald. “When you’re talking about a domesticated situation, this one is a bit shocking and tragic for the whole family.”
RCMP said there was adult supervision the day the incident happened, but they were gone for only a minute when the attack happened.
Kristin Nicholson lives next to the home where the dog owners lived. She said she didn’t know of any other incidents with the dogs, who are named Shadow and Bear.
“They were out here with our kids all the time,” said Nicholson. “I never would have thought that they were capable of doing that.”
Nicholson did say that one of the dogs went missing recently but was later found.