Warning: Images are graphic.
Realtor Carrie Stiles was astonished to learn she wasn't the first person to report being attacked by a dog while viewing a house up for sale in Barrie.
"It's beyond me," she says from the living room of her Barrie home. "This could have been completely prevented."
With her injured right hand wrapped, she uses her left hand to clear off the couch, moving cushions and tucking a throw blanket off to the side.
"I have a nurse coming in every evening to wash out the wound and change my bandages," she explains, gesturing at her hand as she sits down.
As CTV News first reported two weeks ago, the real estate agent's hand was severely injured when she was attacked by a dog, a Cane Corso Bulldog-cross, while showing a house.
Stiles says the animal was in the backyard during the showing, but a tenant let the dog back into the house after she and her clients left.
She was on the driveway speaking with her clients when the dog pushed through the front screen door and barrelled towards them. She says the dog attempted to bite her client's coat, and then turned its aggression on her. She says the animal bit through her rubber boots, her jacket and eventually latched on to her hand. Stiles required several stitches and could need surgery.
Since taking her story public, Stiles has learned she wasn't the only one to have an encounter with the dog.
"I received all kinds of calls from people who've had similar experiences with dogs, and more specifically, people that have had experience with this particular dog, this particular house."
One realtor, who wants to remain anonymous, told CTV News her client was attacked, before Stiles' incident, on the doorstep of that same house. She says it happened before she arrived for the showing.
"My client went to the front door to open the door [which was unlocked], and a dog attacked her at the front door. She said that the dog tore her jacket arm apart, but she was able to get out and shut the door before the dog did any more damage."
She added, "Keep in mind, that would have been me if I had arrived there before them and used the lockbox to get in."
Another realtor, Laura Smith, chose not to show the house to her clients at all after she heard a dog inside.
"We walked up to the front door, the front porch there, and we heard the dog barking," she explained. At almost eight months pregnant, Smith leans on her kitchen counter holding a printed copy of house listing. "It wasn't just a normal bark. It was a growl, so it was frightening for sure, so we just moved on to the next property."
Stiles reported her attack to Barrie police, but because dog bites fall under city jurisdiction and the imminent threat was over, the City of Barrie began investigating. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit also put the dog under a 10-day in-home quarantine.
The city is now planning to take the situation to court.
A statement sent to CTV News reads, "The City of Barrie will be proceeding with legal action related to the dog bite that took place February 16, 2020, and an interim muzzle order has been issued to the registered owner of the dog pending the outcome of court."
CTV News has made several attempts to speak with the dog owner but has been unable to reach her.
So who is responsible?
The incidents have raised questions as to whether the agent and broker listing the home bear any responsibility, and whether the rules around disclosing pets in a home for sale need to change.
In all three of the cases where the realtors or their clients encountered the dog, the realtors showing the house told CTV that they were not informed by the listing agent or the house's real estate broker, The Peggy Hill Team, that a dog would be on the property.
"For a situation like this, with an animal that's that vicious, there definitely should have been some sort of forewarning in the immediate confirmation of the showing," says Smith.
The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), the governing body that regulates real estate in Ontario, says there are no specific rules for disclosing the presence of potentially dangerous pets, and that doing so is simply a courtesy.
The listing agent is only obligated to share that information if they know there is a safety risk.
"There would need to be conclusive evidence that showed that the seller's representative knew about the safety risk, and failed to take reasonable steps to communicate it," wrote RECO's Registrar Joseph Richer in an email.
The realtor, whose client was attacked on the doorstep of the house, says she did inform The Peggy Hill Team's staff about the attack on her client.
In a statement, she wrote, "I said my clients were scared to look at the property, so I didn't end up showing it when I got there. I asked them to let the listing agent know, so it didn't happen again."
Should the listing be removed?
Days after Stiles' attack, the listing for the Innisfil Street house was still online and available for showings, despite the dog having been placed in quarantine in the house for 10 days.
Stile's Broker of Record, Don Sutherland, sent an email to the Barrie and District Association of Realtors (BDAR), urging them to ask The Peggy Hill Team to remove the listing, citing safety concerns for other realtors.
"I felt that the MLS listing … should have been taken off the market immediately," he wrote in the email.
But the Barrie and District Association of Realtors doesn't have the authority to force a listing to be taken down.
"We're a local real estate board, and we're governed by the MLS rules and regulations," BDAR President-Elect Chantal Traversy explained from the BDAR head office.
"We, unfortunately, don't have the authority to cancel the listing and to remove it, because it is a binding legal contract between the seller and the listing brokerage itself."
The Real Estate Council of Ontario is monitoring the Carrie Stiles' attack, but it too couldn't force the listing to be taken down.
According to RECO Registrar Joseph Richer, "There is no obligation to remove a listing while a RECO investigation is taking place."
BDAR did, however, contact the broker.
"A phone call was made to Peggy addressing the situation, and she advised that the brokerage was seeking legal counsel and that they were going to take the steps that were suggested to them," Traversy says.
The listing was taken down five days after Carrie Stiles' attack.
CTV News repeatedly reached out to the listing agent for the Innisfil Street house and the Broker of Record, but our calls and emails went unanswered.
Carrie Stiles wants the rules around animals in homes up for sale to change.
"I think there should be stricter rules for people that own dangerous dogs," she says.
"Perhaps RECO enforcing that if there are any dogs over 30 pounds, they must be muzzled on the property. Or perhaps put something down that no dogs over 30 pounds are allowed on the property."
In its next board meeting, The Barrie and District Association of Realtors will be discussing the possibility of making disclosing pets in a home mandatory.