Home Depot may put a nail in pet policy

Renovation chain to ban animals after shopper's dog bites clerk's nose off

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

OTTAWA -- Home Depot says the chain may ban dogs from its stores after an Ottawa-area employee reported being viciously bitten by a Shih Tzu.

Vancouver is one of the cities where the chain allows shoppers to let pets tag along if they are under their owners' control.

Anne Riel, 39, says she had to be rushed to hospital for emergency surgery Friday afternoon after a customer's dog bit off the end of her nose.

The mother of two says she was working near the doors at the Home Depot store in Gloucester, east of Ottawa, when a woman came in with a Shih Tzu in her shopping cart.

Riel says she greeted the woman and bent down slightly to pet the pup when it leapt out of the cart and sank its teeth into her nose.

Riel says the dog's owner showed little interest as a blood-soaked Riel was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to hospital.

There, doctors had to use seven stitches to sew her skin together and another two or three to reattach her left nostril.

"My nose will never be the same again,'' Riel said Monday, adding that she will be seeking damages from the dog's owner.

"God only knows how many plastic surgeries I will need to even make it look somewhat normal."

Home Depot Canada spokesperson Tiziana Baccega
said the policy allowing pets in stores might be changing, given the recent incident, she said.

Home Depot is currently reviewing its policy on pets, and only service animals -- guide dogs for the blind, for example -- will be allowed inside the stores if a ban is put in place.

"We want to make sure that the safety of our associates and our customers is number one,'' Baccega said.

A decision is expected by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, Riel says the outpouring of concern from her coworkers and from store customers has been overwhelming.

"The support has been absolutely enormous,'' said Riel, who was back at work Monday morning because she can't afford to stay home sick.

City of Ottawa bylaw officers have told her that they will be issuing a muzzle order to the dog's owner, as well as pressing charges that carry a fine of around $600, she said.

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