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Tyson finally safe from dog attacks

Harrison, Carter, and Kolby Gossen, with their sister Gracynn, hang out with Tyson after his recent visit to the veterinarian. The family can now live without fear of future attacks from a neighbouring dog.

Harrison, Carter, and Kolby Gossen, with their sister Gracynn, hang out with Tyson after his recent visit to the veterinarian. The family can now live without fear of future attacks from a neighbouring dog. (Photo supplied)

A frightening ordeal has come to an end for the Gossen family and their dog, Tyson.

Last Friday Diago, a dog who lives across the street from the Line 4 family, once again got loose, came bounding over onto the Gossen property, and viciously attacked Tyson in his own doghouse on their porch.

By late Friday night, after spending hours with the veterinarian, he was able to go home, no stitches this time, just cuts and bruising around his neck, and a $600 bill.

But this time, unlike the previous incidents, something has been done to protect Tyson, an eight-year-old border collie/Australian shepherd cross, for the future. Diago’s owner was finally convinced he had to give him up.

Rachel, who exudes positivity and kindness in conversation and on social media, says she has lived in fear for the safety of her family since the first attack, knowing it could be one of her four kids outside with Tyson when Diago showed up. Her husband Steve has a hard enough time when the dog runs across the street and jumps on him, she says, and she can’t help envisioning what would happen if it was one of her kids or their friends he could easily knock down. She has also felt the ongoing frustration of calling the town, the town’s canine control officer, the Niagara Falls Humane Society and even the Niagara Regional Police, who have all responded to her calls and been involved at one time or another over the years, but none of them able or willing to make the attacks stop.

She describes the most recent assault on Tyson Friday, a day off school for the kids with teachers having a professional development day. She and her daughter Gracynn, the youngest of four siblings, were in the car and about to go shopping for baking supplies to make cookies for Valentine’s Day. Steve was in the driveway when the two dogs from across the street came running up, their owner, Paul Ermanian, behind them. Although they were both loose, only Diago, the male is the more aggressive with Tyson, Ermanian says because his other dog is female and Diago’s  jealous.

The attacks have occurred, says Rachel, because Ermanian is unable to keep Diago contained, although he has always said he is trying.

After Diago’s attack on Tyson last November, Ermanian said he had considered finding a new home for his dog, but decided he would keep him, and do his best to prevent any more incidents.

Gossen has said from the beginning of the problem with the dogs, she has tried not to turn it into a fight between neighbours. They’ve always gotten along, and Ermanian has been a great neighbour, a good person, and has tried to keep Diago on his property. It works for a while, until he gets out again and heads across the road to hurt Tyson.

After the November attack, the Gossens, frustrated about the lack of action or a solution, had a lawyer and family friend send a letter to the town outlining their concerns.

Ken Reid, the town’s canine control officer, had said he couldn’t take the dog, it was the responsibility of the humane society. The SPCA has been nothing but cooperative and supportive throughout, says Gossen, who is grateful for their help, but they said it was a municipal responsibility, and although the lord mayor and councillors seemed sympathetic, nothing was done.

The lawyer’s letter to the town included details of the attack and reports made to the humane society, the canine control officer, and the police.

Rachel credits her lawyer for finally making some headway with the letter, with the result that when the animal control officer issued the appropriate fines Friday and encouraged her neighbour to give up his dog, the Niagara Falls Humane Society, which finds homeless and unwanted dogs a new home, came to collect it.

It is because the friend stepped up, “made contact and stood in the gap for us at a time when we really needed someone to,” that Tyson and the Gossen family can sleep at night, Rachel said.

“This, to us, was the very picture of true friendship, and we are truly beyond grateful to her.”

Rachel says she reached out to Ermanian after she learned he had given up his dog, and said they were very sorry that it had come to that, “but we felt like we had no choice for the safety of our family. We hope that we can have peace again as neighbours.”

Ermanian said he had always intended to rectify the situation, and was sorry for the problem he had caused the Gossen family. “Having to give Diago up was heart-breaking for me, but I felt that it was the best, as I fully understand your position,” he responded.