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9,300+ signatures on petition hoping to save dogs facing death

Prabjot Nijjer was reunited with her dog Axel during a visit last month. - Martin van den Hemel
Prabjot Nijjer was reunited with her dog Axel during a visit last month.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

A petition aimed at convincing members of Richmond council to rethink their efforts to have two Rottweilers destroyed, has now gathered more than 9,300 supporters.

When Cynda Lee heard about the plight of Axel and Paris, currently being held by the Richmond Animal Protection Society over a minor biting incident, she said she had to do something about it.

So she started an online petition (tinyurl.com/SaveAxelParis), hoping to sign up at least 1,000 people. But as of Thursday afternoon, the petition had gathered 9,348 names, and counting.

Lee said she regularly visits the society’s shelter on No. 5 Road, bringing snacks and treats for the animals.

She recalls the first time she saw the two Rottweilers, which were anything but fierce.

“He just melts when you talk to him,” Lee said of Axel. “He just wants to be scratched.”

Meanwhile, lawyer Joe Peschisolido is hopeful a decision about Axel and Paris will be made as soon as next week, long before the expensive court process begins with a scheduled hearing on the City of Richmond’s destruction order in April. His law firm was hired by Prabjot and Nav Nijjer, who have owned the dogs since they were puppies eight years ago. The report written by animal behaviour expert Dr. Rebecca Ledger has now been completed, and it’s very complimentary of both Axel and Paris, Peschisolido said.

Once the city sees the report, Peschisolido is hopeful both sides will be able to hammer out an agreement acceptable to the courts.

Paris and Axel (sometimes spelled Axle) escaped their owners’ backyard on Alberta Road on Oct. 25, and ran onto a townhouse construction site, where Axel bit worker Dustin Wang on the upper thigh. The dime-sized injury neither tore his jeans or broke his skin, leaving a contusion akin to a bruise that completely healed within a few weeks.

According to court records, Axel 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 Axel 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 dogs later chased and jumped on children at a nearby school, scaring some and causing others to cry.

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