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.