So… this happened to me on Thursday. :(

So this happened to me on Thursday. 🙁
I sent this letter to the CRD and the Mayor of Victoria. Let’s see what happens …

REGARDING: Physical Assault by Animal Control Officer – Ian Fraser

My name is Sarah Kramer and I am a small business owner in downtown Victoria BC. On the evening of Oct 19th – I closed my store Sarah’s Place early at 5pm instead of the usual 6pm because my husband was out of town and I don’t like to walk home by myself in the dark.

In 1995 on a dark street – a man grabbed me from behind and sexually assaulted me so being on a street alone in the evening is still very unsettling to me.

On the way home I put in my iPhone earbuds and briefly spoke to my husband (who was about to catch his flight home). After talking to him I listened to some music while I walked home with my dog Fergus in tow.

As I walked by La Dolce Vita coffee shop on Yates Street – I was suddenly grabbed from behind and physically restrained. I felt myself being pulled back with a terrific force. I had no idea what was happening to me – all I could feel is that my arm was being pulled back and I could not move forward. Terrified because I thought I was being attacked – I swung around to find a man holding onto my dogs leash to keep me from moving.

Fearful for my life and the safety of my precious dog – I yelled “What are you doing?” and he said something but I couldn’t hear him because my iPhone earbuds were in my ears and music was playing.

When I realized he was an Animal Control Officer and I wasn’t in danger – I started to have a panic attack. All the memories and feelings from my previous assault came flooding back and I started sobbing.

He asked to see my dog tag (my current up-to-date 2011 dog tag was at home on my dogs other harness and this secondary harness had a 2010 tag). As he started to discuss the expired tag issue I said to him “Sir. I need to tell you that I am a sexual assault survivor and you do NOT grab a woman from behind – especially if she doesn’t know you’re there.”

He said “I didn’t grab you, Ma’am. I grabbed your leash.”

I felt completely diminished by his statement like my previous attack I had endured didn’t mean anything.

I stated to him again “I don’t care what you grab. You do NOT grab at a woman from behind when she does not know you’re there. I had my earbuds in. I did not know you were behind me.”

That’s when I started to melt-down and an overwhelming feeling of fear took over. I started sobbing, gasping for breath and felt like I was going to die. I recognized this as a panic attack – so I told the officer that I was having a panic attack and need to sit down. I walked over to a bench nearby and tried to calm myself.

While I was in full panic-attack; the officer offered no kindness. He didn’t ask if I was ok or if I needed anything. Instead he continued to talk about my expired tag and filled out a warning notice ticket for me. Through my tears I requested his name on the ticket so I could complain. I grabbed the ticket and got away from him as quickly as possible as I was in full panic attack flight-mode.

I had about 2 more blocks to walk before I got home and it was difficult to control my emotions. I was shaking, crying, my heart was racing, I was sweating and flashes of my previous assault all came flooding back on my walk home.

I would like to state for the record that this reaction is not something I experience, daily, weekly or even monthly. This was triggered by the actions of this bylaw officer and his lack of any sensitivity to my situation that his actions instigated.

I cried for several hours after I came home and I found it incredibly difficult to calm myself. Besides the emotional distress I also experienced physical issues – extreme neck and jaw pain, teeth clenching, stomach ache, flashbacks throughout the evening, nightmares and interrupted sleep.

I am a small 5 foot 1 inch woman walking home at dusk. I was not trying to flee from the officer – in fact I did not know he was there. He could have easily tapped me on the shoulder or gotten in front of me to get my attention rather then grabbing me from behind and pulling me back.

As a sexual assault survivor I may be more sensitive to situations but not unique in my reaction. Although my reaction may have been more extreme then a lot of other woman; I certainly would never want his actions to be visited on another woman.

You can bet dollars to dog biscuits that he never would have grabbed a 200lb six foot man from behind like he did me.

Officers who are detaining woman should be aware of how their actions may be perceived by the woman being detained. Tactics such has his only serve to generate fear in the woman being detained.

I have recently learned that the Animal Control officer – Ian Fraser – is not an actual officer of the law but is rather the owner of the company (Victoria Animal Control Services Ltd http://www.vacs.ca) that is under contract by the City of Victoria to do Animal Control for the city.

I believe that if a by-law issue like mine had been handled by a police officer rather then contracted out to a “hired company” I feel that the outcome would have been completely different.

Policing belongs to the police. Police officers are given sensitivity training and if I had said “I am a sexual assault survivor” to an officer – I do believe that their response would have been much more sensitive to my needs. The officer who handled my original assault case was wonderful and handled me with the thoughtful care I needed at the time. I did not receive anything but an aggressive in-your-face attitude from Mr.Fraser.

In closing – I would like to state that I have absolutely no problem with being ticketed for by-laws I have broken but I do take issue with being physically man-handled by a man who towers over me and is twice my weight over something as benign as an expired dog-tag.

As a consequence for Mr. Fraser’s aggressive physical actions towards me – I would like the city of Victoria to stand by and support this citizen by revoking the contract for Mr. Frasers company – Victoria Animal Control Services Ltd (http://www.vacs.ca) and request that company to no longer be hired for public service.

I would like the CRD to follow up with my complaint immediately.
Sincerely
Sarah Kramer

This entry was posted in Go Vegan!. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to So… this happened to me on Thursday. :(

  1. Kate says:

    Oh my word. I am so sorry you had to go through this horrifying experience. Your letter is very well written and I surely hope they read and act upon it. I don’t understand why having a dog tag is necessary or even if it is, why he would use that method to get your attention! Completely inappropriate. 🙁

  2. Janel says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that! I can absolutely feel your distress, having been assaulted myself as well. I hope that the city takes your letter and request seriously. If you need signatures for a petition, let us know. Keep us updated! Best of luck, Ms. Sarah!

    ~Janel K.

  3. virtual.jess says:

    I can’t believe this! His behaviour is just despicable. Please don’t stop here, please consult other avenues of dealing with this- perhaps there is a women’s center that can advocate for you? Perhaps you could send a letter in to your local news for publish in the comment section? I am so sorry that this happened to you- let’s make sure we stop it from happening again. You are not alone.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you so much Jess. I’m waiting to hear from the Mayor and the CRD before I explore the idea of contacting the media…

  4. Tom says:

    So sorry this happened to you. I had a similar experience and reaction once when I was hit at a low speed by a car while I was biking. I cried and shook for hours once the shock wore off. It is a horrible feeling.
    I think you should sue the city or this man and his company that they contracted with.

  5. Miranda says:

    Thats horrible and a very well written letter. I do hope they respond to you and take action immediately.

  6. Genevieve says:

    Hugs & Support from Ottawa. Too bad Fergus isn’t an ankle biter.

  7. Aine Carlin says:

    What a vile man. So sorry you had to endure this. Hugs from Cornwall, UK x

  8. Katie says:

    That is so awful and i’m sorry it happened to you. Even if I wasn’t a sexual assault survivor, anyone grabbing my dog’s leash for any reason would be incredibly sorry. What if the dog hates strangers and bites?

  9. Carol says:

    How on earth could he have just stood there and watched you have a meltdown and not been totally mortified, especially after you told him you were an attack survivor. I just don’t get it. What a terrible experience that could have been so very different if he would have been able to show you some empathy and walked you safely home. I sincerely hope he learns from this and I hope you are able to rebound in due time. 🙁 I’m not able to, but is there anybody out there that might be able to walk home with you for a while?

  10. Jo says:

    I’m so sorry this happened. I started having a panic attack just reading your letter. I hope immediate action is taken against this person.

  11. Rebecca says:

    I am so sorry that this happened to you. As an assault survivor myself I feel for you and understand. I hope that your hubby can now escort you home or at least a friend. All I can say for “Mr.” Frasier is what an A**hole.
    I hope he gets fired or at least know that Karma can be a cruel b**ch and he will get what he needs no worries.

  12. Jay says:

    This is unreal. I am glad you aren’t just letting it go (like you ever would). Did they respond? I hope someone at the CRD pays attention and reconizes what a serious issue this is.

    Jay

  13. Pingback: What I did on my summer vacation – Seattle – part 5 ‹ GoVegan.net

  14. Pingback: Animal Control Officer update ‹ GoVegan.net

    • Kirk B says:

      I have been told that Victoria Animal Control officers have grabbed women’s bodies on various occasions in the past, in the dark. I have talked to many dog walkers and I have heard various stories that predate your experience. VAC always states that they “will change their policy to prevent future incidents” but the fact remains that the owner of VAC, Ian Fraser, promotes such aggressive behavior.
      I once told VAC employees that they were trespassing on my front porch. They would not leave and claimed that they had the right to come into my house whenever they wanted and that they had greater power than the police. This is of course false. They even called the police on me, but I received no fine, no tickets. I am a large strong man, so they did not dare assault me. I was breaking no laws other than not letting them into my house to see my dogs licenses (they had them, albeit from another city where I live most of the time). VAC lies in order to intimidate. They are out of control and have been for years. Citizens of Victoria need to rally to stop the renewal of their contract this fall. I communicated with North Saanich Council about their methods and North Saanich did not give them a contract.
      Victoria is a fairly civilized city but VAC operates like corrupt third world policemen.

    • sharon says:

      Hi Sarah,
      what was the outcome of your meeting?
      I know for a fact that Ian Fraser is a very aggressive man and inappropriate in his behavior….

  15. I am glad I have found this. When these clowns started out in the city I noticed they would always stop and harass people whenever possible. Esp women. I heard about an incident in the oaklands neighbourhood where they physically restrained someone in the park in front of all the other neighbourhood residence that were getting the ultimatum from these mall security guards, about their dogs being off leash or something. I really got a bee up my butt when one day I saw one of these morons riding a bicycle on the walkway checking for tags down at Dallas Rd. I’m thinking Why is this clown bothering people about dog by-laws when he is in violation of the park by-law about riding a bicycle or Rollerblades on the path? He is in fact stopped right on top of the symbol with a line through it clearly stating this.

    I have actually considered filing a formal complaint with the attorney general’s office and the City about them.
    These are the reasons why:
    Within the last year of observing the actions of the company, keep in mind these are random incidence. Recently I witnessed one of their vehicles speeding though a school zone while using a hand held electronic device.

    One morning I was driving downtown Victoria and I saw one of their vehicles driving at a speed greater than the flow of traffic and appeared to be talking on a cell phone. Because of the apparent arrogance they have and the detest I have for these people I made a point of changing into the lane the vehicle was travelling and slowed down..I had enough room to do this safely.
    Last spring I witnessed one of their vehicles cut off traffic on Bay making a right hand turn.
    This summer I saw one of their vehicles parked on the wrong side of the street in a yellow zone by a playground making visibility for pedestrians and drivers obstructed.
    Ian Fraser likes to say things such as “If you break the law there are consequences” But yet Himself and everyone of their employees I have seen violating more traffic laws than I have done in the last 5 years.
    I also take issue to their aggressive wording on their website about how they have so much power in the Mall of Victoria…. My new nick name for the city…And these guys are the Mall Security…

    8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

    In other words “Get a warrant”
    http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html#h-40

  16. Don Brown says:

    Hello Sarah,

    I must clarify that it is the City of Victoria that Contracts with Victoria Animal Control Services for Animal control not the CRD.

    I can certainly understand how unsetting and unnerving thsi must have been for you.

    Sincerely,

    Don Brown
    Chief Bylaw Officer
    Capital Regional District

    • Sarah says:

      Yes. It was a horrible experience and since this happened I have been contacted by quite a few people who have had similar difficult experiences with Ian Fraser.

      He is a menace and I hope I never run into him again.

      Thank you for the clarification regarding the CRD/City of Victoria. I will change the blog to contain the correct information.

  17. Elisa says:

    Here is the private owner of the Victoria Animal Control, Ian Fraser, again in another of his macho performances.

    I personally had an altercation with him not long ago and will be delighted to show my support to you guys whenever you will need it.

    I wonder if a man like this can be nice to animals? I also wonder the number of employees he has taking care of the animals.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/victoria-police-knee-teen-girl-in-ribs-during-arrest-1.2979300

  18. Erika says:

    Wow. I just decided to search on inappropriate behaviour of victoria animal control and stumbled across this. Although not as intense as some of these stories, just last Thursday I had a really bizarre interaction with one of those guys. I got through it unscathed but was shocked at how aggressive and intimidating this man was. He was likely a foot taller than me, wanted to follow me to my vehicle, accused me to being rude and aggressive, and at one point threatened to take my dog. I recently adopted a dog and I did have some vague knowledge about licensing, was late for work. I asked him for his card and told him I would take care of it next week but that I was unable to stop and have a conversation with him. My little dog was on a leash and there were no problems.

    Then just today I met a woman with some small dogs in the park, out of curiosity I asked if she had licenses for her dogs and she told me no, that she would not speak to that company or have anything to do with them. She shared a story with me that involved being tracked down, visited at her home, harassed with calls to the point where she changed her phone number and ironically it all stemmed from an incident where she had helped stray dog found wandering in traffic.

    The incident you describe on your blog happened 4 years ago. But just a few months ago is when those guys really lost their minds on Douglas Street, so obviously things have not changed.

    I was so put off last week that I called the head of bylaws to ask some questions. I’m not a complainer but I too was left feeling very unsettled by the man’s aggression. I requested information about the job description of the animal control officers, and how they are trained to do their jobs. Rather than being directed towards the information I was requesting, I was quizzed repeatedly about the incident, it was a nonsensical conversation that I eventually gave up on.

    I would think the role of animal control in our community is about assisting with problems and issues when they arise, helping to keep public spaces safe and accessible for all people if animals both wild or domestic are causing problems , and sharing information (for example, letting someone know about dog licensing and why it is a city rule). The idea that these guys are police officers is absurd. There are enough police in this town to call for help if something gets out of hand.

    After my chance meeting with a stranger today and after reading this blog I’m starting to rethink this dog licensing thing. Maybe I’ll put my time into lobbying for change instead.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Erika
      Yes. He’s still out there terrorizing people. I got zero help from the city. Eventually decided to let it go to focus on some health issues. If you do decide to pursue this with the city – let me know and I’ll add my voice to your campaign.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.