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City wants dogs destroyed after biting incident

Though construction worker Dustin Wang suffered a minor injury when he was nipped by a Rottweiler on Oct. 25 at a townhouse construction site across from Henry Anderson Elementary School (at right), he doesn’t believe the two escaped dogs involved in the incident should be destroyed by the City of Richmond.  - Martin van den Hemel
Though construction worker Dustin Wang suffered a minor injury when he was nipped by a Rottweiler on Oct. 25 at a townhouse construction site across from Henry Anderson Elementary School (at right), he doesn’t believe the two escaped dogs involved in the incident should be destroyed by the City of Richmond.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

The owners of two Rottweilers are appealing for City of Richmond officials to do the right thing, and cease efforts to destroy both of their beloved pets for a minor October biting incident that only involved one of them.

Prabjot Nijjer and her son Nav have hired a lawyer in an attempt to fight the destruction order after Axle and his smaller sister Paris escaped their Alberta Road home’s backyard on Oct. 25, 2013.

The dogs wandered onto a townhouse construction site directly across the street from their home around 8 a.m. that Friday, where Dustin Wang was working.

Startled by the dogs’ appearance as they came around a corner, Wang said he got up from his crouching position when one of the dogs turned toward him and began to approach. Wang quickly retreated through the townhouse’s front door.

Wang immediately phoned his site supervisor, and only after explaining the situation, did Wang notice a slight pain coming from his upper thigh, just below his left buttock.

The larger of the two dogs had apparently nipped him on the leg, causing an injury that didn’t tear his jeans or draw blood, but left a dime-sized contusion on his skin.

Wang told The Richmond Review this week that the injury has completely healed, and didn’t even leave a scar.

When his colleagues told him the city wants to destroy both dogs, he was shocked.

“I don’t really want them to do that,” Wang said. “It’s not the dog’s fault, it was the owner’s fault.”

Wang’s worksite colleagues agreed.

“Those two dogs are very nice. I don’t understand why they want to put them down,” said Alder Vista site supervisor William Dong.

Construction worker Geoff Kalsbeek, who owns a Rottweiler, managed to help coax the dogs into an animal control vehicle with a sandwich. Worried about the students who might be in harm’s way as they walked to Henry Anderson Elementary School, which is just across the street, the gate to the fenced-in construction site was quickly closed to prevent the dogs from escaping.

Kalsbeek said the bigger of the two dogs, which he estimated weighed about 130 pounds, barked at him as he approached, a reaction he considered normal.

“I would definitely not want the dogs destroyed,” he said.

The City of Richmond declined to comment on the case, because it is currently before the courts.

Prabjot Nijjer said that since the incident more than two months ago, she hasn’t even been permitted to see her dogs, which are currently being cared for by the Richmond Animal Protection Society.

And her family has received no assurances from the city that Paris, who had surgery on its right hind leg in August, has been receiving the required medical attention—including regular injections every few weeks—for its six-to-seven-month recovery period.

“I love my dogs so much. I’m concerned about them,” Nijjer said from the office of Joe Peschisolido, whose law firm has been hired by the Nijjers. A trial to determine the dogs’ fate will be held in April.

Nijjer said she was horrified to learn that her dogs had bitten somebody.

The family was initially told there was a serious biting incident, and at that point they were willing to concede that the guilty dog be put down.

But it was only afterward, when they learned the biting incident was extremely minor, that they hired a lawyer to try to save their pets.

Nijjer said her dogs have a good temperament, and friends and family regularly come over, including young children, with no prior serious problems.

The Nijjer family can’t understand why the city wants both dogs destroyed, considering only one did the biting. Had the biting incident resulted in a serious or severe injury, and the two dogs were acting in concert, that would be an entirely different matter.

Immediately after the October incident, the Nijjers had a two-metre high chain-link fence installed around their backyard.

They also presented a plan in December to the City of Richmond, detailing steps the family would take to ensure the Rottweilers aren’t involved in an incident like this again.

They’ve agreed to have the dogs trained by a professional animal behaviourist and trainer, keep them  muzzled in steel muzzles at all times, and keep them in a professionally-built kennel enclosure.

The Nijjers would write a letter of apology to Dustin Wang, agree to pay a $3,000 fine if they breach any of the conditions, and consent to the destruction of the dogs if they bite a person during their lifetime

But the offer was rejected by the City of Richmond, and plans are going ahead for a trial.

The Nijjers said there has only been one minor incident involving their dogs, which they’ve owned since they were eight-week-old puppies seven years ago.

A few years ago, the dogs somehow got loose and went into the nearby elementary school area. The family was alerted by someone, and the animals were brought back.

As a family member retrieved the dogs, a small dog on a leash that was being walked got nipped by Axle, but it was not a serious injury, and the victimized dog’s owner never followed up with the family to complain or seek damages for veterinarian costs.

“They don’t deserve to die,” Peschisolido said.

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