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Woman charged in Toronto playground dog attack previously found to be ‘irresponsible dog owner’

The woman charged in connection with a dog attack in Toronto that left a nine-year-old child with “life-altering injuries” has previously been found by a court to be an irresponsible dog owner, CTV News has learned.

On Saturday morning, a family’s day out at a playground near Lake Shore Boulevard West and Bathurst Street took a turn when an off-leash dog charged toward the child through an open gate.

Police said the dog bit and dragged the child to the ground, and after the father and the dog’s owner got the dog to release the child, the owner fled. Patrycja Siarek, 38, was arrested and charged in connection with the incident, and a dog was seized. On Tuesday, Siarek was released on bail.

This is not the first time allegations have been made about Siarek’s “irresponsible” dog ownership and her dogs’ “vicious” behaviour.

Sabita Singh told CTV News Toronto she rented a condo to Siarek and her partner in 2021, a move that would soon devolve into a months-long, $100,000-dollar legal battle culminating in eviction.

“Right after they moved in, there were dog complaints,” Singh said in an interview.

A court decision from March 14, 2022, details a violent incident involving one of Siarek’s two American Pocket Bullies in December 2021, where a resident and her own dog were “viciously attacked” and seriously injured.

“Her dog ran into the elevator on its own – lunged at that individual and the puppy,” Singh said.

The court documents reveal that the City ordered the dogs to be muzzled publicly. Justice Fred Myers noted he saw video evidence of that order being ignored, as later that same month, one of Siarek’s dogs was seen again going into the apartment elevator without a leash.

Myers added that he viewed multiple videos of Siarek “having to use her body weight to restrain one of the dogs from lunging at residents, including a child,” and that she had trouble restraining her dogs physically.

“The video of the attack on December 4, 2021, leaves no doubt as to the vicious conduct of which the dogs are capable. They should not be in a condominium with people and children with owners who are not willing or able to protect their neighbours,” Myers wrote in the decision.

According to Singh, animal control visited the unit as her former tenants were not complying with the rules of the Dangerous Dog order.

“We thought animal control was going to take the dog away at that point and instead they walked out of the building and handed the dogs right back to them,” Singh said.

The court decision reveals the dogs were removed in February 2022, but since they were not ordered to be confiscated, they were returned to Siarek, who left with them.

It was later believed the dogs returned to the unit, as full dog bowls and pee pads remained inside the condo, dog droppings were found on two separate occasions on the balcony, and another resident, living directly below, testified that “a bag full of dog excrement had been dropped onto her patio and exploded.”

After numerous warnings and missed court hearings, Myers determined that Siarek and her partner breached previous court orders and ordered their eviction.

“The issue here is that the tenants keep dogs that they do not train or control to avoid mauling people or others’ pets,” Myers wrote in his decision. “The dogs have been labelled ‘dangerous’ by the City. Yet the tenants have left the dogs roam the halls.”

When Singh learned of Siarek’s arrest on Sunday, she was horrified.

“I’m extremely angry by what happened. It could have been avoided and it’s heartbreaking to see this child has been mauled as a result of this,” Singh said.

“I’m disappointed in the city and specifically disappointed in animal control for not doing their job.”

While animal services seized the dog involved in the latest dog attack, they declined to comment as the matter is currently in front of the courts.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Abby O’Brien