According to the TDSB trustee, off-leash dogs are allowed on school grounds “citywide.”

The latest attack resulted in an eighth grader being bitten in the face

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A TDSB trustee is raising the alarm about off-leash dog attacks on school grounds.

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Station 9 Trustee Alexis Dawson says the most serious attack occurred at 6 p.m. last Friday night (May 12) at the Rawlinson Community School, near West St. Clair Avenue and Oakwood Avenue.

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“Some students were playing on school grounds, an off-leash dog approached them and bit one of them in the face, resulting in serious injuries,” said Dawson, who has two children of her own — an eight-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son — at Rawlinson.

“And the student was taken to Sick Kids for emergency facial reconstructive surgery and will require reconstructive surgery in the future. This is one of many incidents affecting community members. This is the worst I have ever heard of and it is the most high profile case in the community in the sense that the community is extremely concerned.”

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Dawson said the student who was attacked was in the 8th grade, there were no adults around and the dog’s owner was nowhere to be seen and has not yet come forward to claim responsibility.

“No one knows where the owners were,” Dawson said. “The dog was alone. It is unclear (what type of dog it was). Students thought it was a pit bull mix, possibly a puppy. The children were very traumatized and details will emerge over time.”

Dawson said this and other attacks were reported to both police and Toronto Animal Services.

“Dogs are not allowed on school property, there is signage everywhere, yet dog owners walk their dogs off leash every day and at all times of the day so this is a problem even during school hours,” Dawson said.

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A letter was sent to the Rawlinson school community this week, urging families to “exercise extreme caution” in the face of the latest attack.

“I understand that there are community members who regularly leave their dogs off-leash in our schoolyard in the evenings and weekends, which poses a potential hazard to children and adults alike,” the principal wrote.

“I would urge all families to exercise extreme caution around the schoolyard outside of school hours.”

Dawson said after meeting with the Rawlinson school principal and two parent vice presidents two weeks ago, she and Toronto City Councilwoman Alejandra Bravo developed a three-pronged initiative to combat the problem.

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First, Dawson and Bravo present some voting plaques to be converted into signs reminding people not to leave their dogs off-leash on school grounds.

The city is also currently creating a flyer to remind dog owners of the rules, and negotiations are under way for a community access agreement so city law enforcement officers can enforce the bylaws on school properties that are technically private property.

“We do not have the financial or human resources to address the ongoing citywide problem of off-leash dogs on campus,” said Dawson of TDSB.

“Hopefully, this agreement will allow us to better address the issue through law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, Dawson has advised her 11-year-old, who may be playing alone with other students on school grounds, “If you see a dog off a leash, you should come home.”


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advertising 1 According to the TDSB trustee, off-leash dogs are allowed on school grounds “citywide.”

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