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City reaches deal on another dog facing destruction order

Prabjot Nijjer was reunited with her dog Axel, who despite three months of separation, didn’t forget who was boss, almost immediately rolling onto his back and asking for a belly rub.  - Martin van den Hemel
Prabjot Nijjer was reunited with her dog Axel, who despite three months of separation, didn’t forget who was boss, almost immediately rolling onto his back and asking for a belly rub.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

Paris and Axel weren't the only Richmond dogs facing a destruction order.

Last week, The Richmond Review learned of Dusty, a pit bull who'd apparently been seized by the City of Richmond after it bit a man.

Shelby Cumming, a volunteer at the Richmond Animal Protection Society, said Dusty apparently had a nasty habit of jumping up at people.

During one incident, as Dusty was jumping at a man, he began to repeatedly strike the dog, and during the exchange Dusty bit him.

After The Review contacted the city for information about Dusty, spokesperson Ted Townsend announced that the city had reached an agreement with Dusty's owner. Dusty will be adopted outside the community, he said.

Earlier, Townsend clarified that although the city made a destruction-order application, which enabled it to keep Dusty beyond the maximum 21 days currently allowed by provincial legislation, the city was "not intending to seek the destruction of that dog."

Asked why the city couldn't simply reach a similar agreement with the owners of Paris and Axel, two Rottweilers owned by Prabjot and Nav Nijjer who were involved in a minor biting incident near Henry Anderson Elementary School in late October, Townsend said The Review should pose that question to the Nijjer family and their lawyer.

Townsend said that the public needs to understand the process.

The city, in situations where it believes public safety is at risk, can only hold a dog for a maximum of 21 days.

If it wants to hold a dog beyond that period, it must make a destruction application.

But Townsend clarified that just because such an application is made, it doesn't mean that's the final outcome.

The courts have already established a precedent where it can order a wide variety of outcomes, from retraining dogs, to adopting them out, to enforcing conditions on the dog or its owners.

Simply initiating a destruction order doesn't mean that will be the final outcome, Townsend said.

"The court process is the only way to set binding legal conditions on the care of these animals," he said.

Although the Nijjer family in December agreed to a long list of conditions for the return of their dogs, Townsend argued those conditions aren't legally-binding.

The only way to make them legally binding is going through the court process, he explained.

If the city believes public safety is at risk, it has a legal responsibility to take action, Townsend said.

The city is looking forward to reading the assessments of Rottweilers Axel and Paris completed by animal behaviour specialist Dr. Rebecca Ledger.

Townsend confirmed that the city is investigating allegations by Ledger that her copyrighted methodology was breached by the author of a report commissioned by the city on Axel and Paris.

A Richmond provincial court judge is slated to hear arguments on the destruction of Axel and Paris in April.

The pair escaped their family home's backyard on Oct. 25, and wandered onto a construction site where Axel bit worker Dustin Wang, causing a minor contusion on his upper thigh that neither broke his skin or tore his jeans. Wang has also said he doesn't want to see the dogs destroyed.

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