Defending dangerous dog

There are more than 60 dogs in the Regional District of Central Okanagan that have been deemed “dangerous” dogs.

I feel sad for their lives, as their guardians comply with the harsh requirements in Bylaw No. 1343, especially the outdoor confinement in a pen described in Schedule C.

On March 21, I attended Kelowna courtroom No. 6, to hear what penalties and fines would be exacted upon a defendant whom the RDCO charged for ignoring the dangerous dog restrictions.

The defendant, a retired lawyer, earlier succeeded in persuading the court that his standard poodle's life be spared, but he failed to have RDCO's dangerous dog designation lifted. It remains for the life of the dog.

I did not expect the judge to be lenient. After all, the defendant dared to question dog control's authority, and he did plead guilty to four of the seven charges against him.

The judge, perhaps anticipating the defendant would remain intransigent and continue to disregard RDCO's bylaw requirements, took the time to remind the defendant his dog was dangerous and must be kept in the manner prescribed for dangerous dogs, including the payment of the $500 annual license fee.

The dangerous dog notice was delivered to the defendant by an animal control officer in March 2020, nearly three months after the incident that led to the notice.

On July 18, 2021, a second worrisome incident occurred to add to the defendant's distress. It happened in what should have been a safe place for the defendant and his three poodles - the front courtyard of his residence.

A Yorkie dog, belonging to a family who rented the house next door to the defendant's home, escaped from the rental property while the family was preparing to leave the vacation property. The Yorkie somehow squeezed under the fence of the defendant's property and found itself among the three poodles, including the dog deemed dangerous by the RDCO.

Upon hearing her Yorkie's cries, the owner clambered over the defendant's fence and while rescuing the little dog, the Yorkie bit its owner's face.

The defendant paid for the Yorkie's medical costs when he accompanied the owner to the veterinary clinic.

The judge ordered the defendant to pay the Yorkie’s owner $1,000 for her trauma on the defendant's property - a trauma that would not have occurred had she secured the Yorkie while the family was preparing to leave the vacation property.

The judge blamed the Yorkie's injuries on the defendant's refusal to post dangerous dog signage and on his refusal to construct a Schedule C pen, where the dangerous dog should have been while outdoors on the defendant's fenced property.

(The Yorkie's owner testified earlier she saw three large poodles on the defendant's property during her week-long stay next door).

The pen prescribed for dangerous dogs in Bylaw No. 1343, Schedule C is described needing to be as six-feet high, 4-feet wide and 8’-feet long. The pen must have secure sides, a top and bottom and flooring such as a concrete slab.

As the blame for the July 18 incident was placed squarely on the defendant, it is unlikely the Yorkie's owner was served a "dog-at-large" ticket by RDCO. Dog control's reaction to the Yorkie's trespass and subsequent injury was to impound the dangerous dog.

When seized by animal control officers, the (offending) dog was healthy, with no signs of illness. Yet, at after three days in the pound, the dog suffered a medical emergency requiring

veterinary care.

Dog control informed the defendant he could have his dog back if he agreed to pay for his dog's veterinary care. He paid the bill—nearly $3,000—and took his dog home.

The judge awarded the RDCO extra penalties and costs prior to sentencing submissions. The defendant, however, was denied the opportunity to seek recovery of his dangerous dog's $3,000 veterinary costs because the defendant had not provided prior notice of his intent.

Whatever the lesson here, it reflects poorly on the RDCO and the judge, in my opinion.

Helen Schiele

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