Police confirmed Thursday that a young man has been apprehended, as details about the bizarre case began emerging some 24 hours after rumours of the heinous incident shocked the community.
Police admitted the man, who was not identified, to the Pembroke Regional Hospital, under provisions of the Mental Health Act.
The dog, described as a female pit bill, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and remains in the care of animal control.
While authorities are saying little, eyewitnesses are recounting a terrifying scene in the early morning hours of Wednesday at the intersection of Pembroke Street West and Christie Street.
A woman living nearby said she and her husband were awakened by the mournful howls of an animal in distress.
Looking out the front window, the couple saw a man wearing only a pair of boxer shorts and lying on top of a dog. She said she raced outside and saw the man biting the dog’s back and head.
“It was something out of a horror movie,” said the woman, who asked not be identified. “He was literally eating her alive. It was terrible.”
In the car with a friend, 18-year-old Tanner Comeau, of Petawawa, Ont., said he observed the black form of the pit pull lying in the middle of the intersection. At first, he thought the dog had been struck by a car. Then he saw the figure of a man leaning over the dog’s body.
Comeau said he and his friend screamed at the attacker before calling 911.
The pit bull was gushing blood as a circle of bystanders gathered to yell at the man.
“He had the dog in a choke hold and was biting it,” Comeau said. “He was trying to eat it or something.”
Witnesses were reluctant to approach the assailant, who was behaving erratically.
Finally, the dog ran off and was taken indoors by residents.
The woman said she wrapped the dog up in a blanket, and said she thought the man may have been the owner because he kept calling the dog “Jessie.”
She noted the dog had bite marks all over its body.
“She was such a sweet animal,” she said, adding it appeared the dog may have recently given birth to puppies.
The man then ran down the Christie Street hill, towards the Pembroke Memorial Centre.
Comeau suspects the crowd may have scared him off, saving the dog from sustaining fatal wounds.
“If we hadn’t pulled over, it would definitely be dead by now,” he said. “It’s something I don’t want to see again.”
Const. Dillon Gerundin said police received a call for assistance around 12:30 a.m. When they arrived in the area, officers found a man wandering around with very little clothing on. They observed the suspect biting a dog, lying on the ground.
Gerundin said police “can’t rule out” drug use, but said the man was not under the influence of so-called bath salts, the drug notorious for eliciting paranoid and violent behaviour in its users.
The drug has been recently suspected in connection with several gruesome crimes in the U.S.