News

Dogs terrorized students, labelled dangerous after attack

Prabjot Nijjer and supporters were outside Richmond City Hall on Monday, hoping to save two dogs. - Martin van den Hemel
Prabjot Nijjer and supporters were outside Richmond City Hall on Monday, hoping to save two dogs.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said concerns over future liability may be largely behind a bid to have two dogs destroyed after they were involved in a minor biting incident last October.

Since there’s an April date scheduled for the city to present its case to a Richmond provincial court judge, Brodie told The Richmond Review Monday he’s somewhat limited on what he can say.

But he said there is a “far bigger story that will be addressed to the judge in due course” and that there were “two significant incidents involving these dogs in the past.”

Brodie said that since the dogs have already been designated as dangerous, the city could be held liable if the Rottweilers in the future either injure or kill another animal, or worse yet, a person.

According to court records, Axle and Paris were labelled “dangerous dogs” under local bylaws following a 2010 incident.

On Sept. 20, 2010, Jessica Lee and Jeff Chiang were walking their two leashed Dachshund dogs (named Super and Dooby) along Alberta Road when two Rottweilers (later admitted to be Axle and Paris) ran out from their property toward them.

One of the Rottweilers lunged at the neck of one of their pets, and caused a wound. The other Rottweiler also charged to attack.

“Mr. Chiang attempted to pull Super to safety and strained his right shoulder in the process. Mr. Chiang was able to pick up Super and pass her to Ms. Lee who had picked up Dooby. The Rottweilers circled Ms. Lee. One of the Rottweilers jumped towards Ms. Lee, knocking her down. The Rottweilers then turned their attention to four children who were watching nearby.”

The four children ran back to the school, where other children were also playing during the lunch break.

“The Rottweilers chased and jumped on children, scaring some and causing others to cry. The vice principal was concerned enough to order a reverse evacuation, clearing the children off the playground and into the school,” the Richmond provincial court records indicate.

Navdeep Nijjer was later located, and admitted the Rottweilers were his, and he was issued a bylaw ticket.

Super suffered puncture wounds and was taken to a veterinarian.

The city classified the dogs as dangerous on Sept. 20, 2010, and Navdeep Nijjer was notified.

In 2012, a complaint from a school maintenance worker resulted in two more bylaw tickets being issued for Axle and Paris.

Two bylaw officers observed Paris and Axle “growling, barking and lunging towards a chain-link fence separating the property from the school ground. Because the Rottweilers had been classified as dangerous, they were required, when in the yard, to be inside an “enclosure” as defined by the bylaw.

In a court application seeking the destruction of Axle and Paris, the city claimed that the most recent incident, involving construction worker Dustin Wang on Oct. 25, 2013, saw the two Rottweilers “attack and seriously injure a person, Dustin Wang.”

But when The Richmond Review interviewed Wang, he said the injury was so minor he didn’t even initially notice it. And when he did notice a pain below his left buttock, it was a small, dime-sized injury that neither bled or even resulted in his jeans being torn. Wang doesn’t believe the dogs deserve to be destroyed.

This week, two dozen protestors waved signs outside city hall, voicing their outrage at the city’s bid to have the two Rottweilers destroyed because of the incident involving Wang.

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

“It’s a waste of taxpayer money,” Richmond resident Mike Shannon said Monday morning. “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 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.

Wang 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.

She’d 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.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Community Events, August 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Aug 22 edition online now. Browse the archives.