'He's Friendly,' Owner Assures Runner as Off-Leash Dog Pierces Carotid Artery



A local runner says he was relieved yesterday to learn that the dog who attacked him was friendly.

Richard Van Dyke, 34, was running alone on the Poppins Park jogging path around 7 a.m. Tuesday, he said, when he first noticed something out of the corner of his eye. That something turned out to be Bert, a four-year-old mixed breed bolting, off-leash, away from his owner.

"He was a blur," Van Dyke recalled from his bed at St. Mary's Hospital. "Like a cruise missile. Before I knew it, this dog was airborne and headed right for my throat."

You can imagine my relief.
— Richard Van Dyke

"You can imagine my relief," he said, "when the dog's owner shouted to me that he was harmless."

By the time passers-by were able to separate the pup from Van Dyke—using their feet and, in one case, a bicycle pump—Bert had managed to locate and puncture Van Dyke's right carotid artery.

"He likes you!" said the dog's owner, who by then had reached the runner and the onlookers trying to stanch the flow of blood.

The dog then turned on several bystanders, clawing at one woman's bare legs and knocking over two small children.

"He's four but he still acts like a puppy," his owner said, laughing.

"Bert!" he added. "Down."

Doctors say Van Dyke is expected to make a full recovery.

"It's unfortunate that (the dog's) enthusiasm got away from him and sent me to the E.R.," said Van Dyke. "But the greater tragedy would have been seeing such a beautiful creature in the great outdoors restrained by a leash."

"Dogs were meant to be free," he added, before calling a nurse for morphine.

Bert, who apparently had tracked Van Dyke by scent, was last seen barreling into the hospital's lobby, knocking over an empty wheelchair before caroming into the cafeteria.

Hospital staff and visitors reportedly were alarmed until Bert's owner shuffled in moments later with a leash draped around his neck and announced, "Don't worry, he's okay."