Protestors want dogs released, hope city hall will reconsider destruction bid

Protestors gathered outside Richmond City Hall, hoping to save two Rottweilers  that the city wants destroyed.  - Martin van den Hemel
Protestors gathered outside Richmond City Hall, hoping to save two Rottweilers that the city wants destroyed.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

Two dozen protestors waved signs outside city hall Monday morning, voicing their outrage at the city's bid to have two Rottweilers destroyed over a minor biting incident that occurred in October.

"Stop Wasting Taxpayers (my) $$$", "Save Axle and Paris", the placards read.

"It's a waste of taxpayer money," Richmond resident Mike Shannon said. "It just sounds to be very heavy-handed by the city."

Surrey's Marlene Dunbreck, who read about the case and the plans for a protest on Facebook, agreed.

"It's an over reaction to a nipping incident," she said, adding that if every dog was destroyed over such a minor thing, there wouldn't be many dogs around anymore.

Prabjot Nijjer shared her story with The Richmond Review earlier this month, hoping for sober second thoughts among managers and politicians at city hall.

She hasn't seen her beloved dogs Axle and Paris since the Oct. 25 incident, barred from seeing them because of a city policy that denies access to owners of what are deemed dangerous dogs who have been seized by the city.

Richmond's Carolyn Quirt organized Monday's protest over the weekend, and was pleasantly surprised with the strong show of support from local residents and fellow animal lovers.

"They (city hall) really need to rethink their stance on how to deal with dogs," Quirt said as she stood outside the front entrance to city hall. "And for them to deem these...dangerous dogs, this isn't right either. They need to have some expert advice, expert opinions on making these (destruction) decisions. It just doesn't make sense to put them down."

On the morning of Oct. 25, 2013, Axle and Paris escaped their backyard on Alberta Road, just east of Garden City Road, and wandered onto the townhouse construction site directly across the street from the family home.

There, they encountered construction worker Dustin Wang, who retreated inside when the larger of the two Rottweilers suddenly began to approach him. After notifying the site supervisor, he noticed a pain from below his left buttock, and saw a small, dime-sized injury, but no blood or tear to his jeans.

Wang told The Review he doesn't want the dogs destroyed either, and said the injury has healed completely, without leaving a scar.

The Nijjers were originally told that the biting incident was serious, and that's why the city sought the destruction order.

But it wasn't until some time later, when the Nijjers learned the incident wasn't serious at all, that they sought legal assistance, hiring former Richmond MP Joe Peschisolido's law firm.

Prabjot Nijjer said she still doesn't understand why the city doesn't release Paris, much smaller compared to her 135-pound brother Axle, since she has never bitten anybody.

Coun. Linda McPhail said that she's asked for staff to supply council with information about the case for Monday night's council meeting.

She's like to know more about how situations involving dangerous dogs, and destruction orders, are dealt with by the city, and specifically, who has the authority to seek a destruction order. She's also wondering what options are available to council, and the steps that have already been taken.

The Nijjers are vowing to continue fighting for the lives of their pets, and a hearing date has been scheduled in April before a judge, who will listen to evidence from the city and the Nijjer family before deciding the dogs' fate.

City of Richmond spokesperson Ted Townsend urged residents to have faith in the system.

"The most important point to remember is that this is going to a court hearing in April," he said. "A judge will hear all of the facts related to the case, not just those that have been reported in the media, and will make the appropriate decision."

"I think the public should be confident in the fact that there's going to be due process, a fair hearing of all the information related to this case, and a judge will make the determination as to the appropriate action."

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