Seized dogs haven’t been walked in months

Staff at the Richmond Animal Shelter on No. 5 Road have been instructed not to walk Rottweilers Paris and Axel, who were seized in October following a minor biting incident, and have gained 24 and 34 pounds, respectively.  -
Staff at the Richmond Animal Shelter on No. 5 Road have been instructed not to walk Rottweilers Paris and Axel, who were seized in October following a minor biting incident, and have gained 24 and 34 pounds, respectively.
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The owners of two Rottweilers currently sitting on doggy death row, leveled accusations of animal cruelty at the City of Richmond upon receiving photographic evidence their pets were barred from being walked.

According to the family vet, Axel and Paris have become “grossly obese” since they were seized more than four months ago over a minor biting incident.

A sign posted at their enclosure at the Richmond Animal Shelter states: “Staff! No Walks.”

Nav Nijjer said he recently saw his dogs during a veterinary examination, and was surprised by their poor state of health.

“I was shocked, because basically that’s animal torture,” he said of the instructions at the shelter not to walk his pets.

City of Richmond spokesperson Ted Townsend said:  “We have been made aware of the owner’s concerns and are investigating.

“...The welfare of animals in our care is always a primary concern that we take very seriously,” he added. “The dogs are exercised twice daily. We remain committed to working with the owner’s legal counsel to seek a resolution to this issue that is satisfactory for all parties and addresses the city’s public safety concerns.”

During that vet exam last week, Nijjer described Axel as “huffing and puffing” and not moving around too much, while Paris has a wobbly back leg, and “just sits there.”

“There’s no movement any more,” Nijjer said. “Yeah, I’m frustrated, saddened and upset. What it boils down to is torture.”

Animal behaviour specialist Dr. Rebecca Ledger said under the province’s prevention of cruelty to animals legislation, an animal is deemed in distress if it has been deprived of  “adequate exercise.”

With a typical Rottweiler weighing between 80 and 90 pounds, and with Axel now tipping the scales at 134 pounds, either he is being fed too much, exercised too little, or a combination of the two, Ledger said.

Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told The Review that if it were to receive a complaint about Axel and Paris’ treatment, it would send out a constable to investigate and determine if the dogs were in distress.

The SPCA could then issue orders requiring changes to conditions that would need to be made within a specified timeframe.

“Dogs are not meant to be in that situation for that long,” Chortyk said of the two dogs’ seizure and confinement to a kennel.

Dr. Jatinder Rana, of Lansdowne Animal Hospital, urged the City of Richmond to release the dogs.

“Since these two dogs are prone to have severe health problems due to prolonged cage confinement, I highly recommend releasing these dogs to their owner as soon as possible,” he wrote.

Of Paris, Rana wrote: “I noticed that she has more crepitus in her right (knee) and she has gained more weight which is now severely affecting the recovery from her TPLO surgery on her right knee. This is due to lack of proper exercise and prolonged cage confinement.”

Axel and Paris were seized in October after escaping their backyard next to Henry Anderson Elementary School, and wandering on to a construction site where Axel nipped at a construction worker, who suffered a minor contusion.

The city is seeking a destruction order of the two dogs, citing previous history that has the City of Richmond concerned about public safety. That includes another incident in 2010 where the two pets again escaped their enclosure and scared elementary school students, and prompted school staff to bring the children back inside for their safety. A hearing has been scheduled for April, where a provincial court judge will be determining their fate.

An assessment by Dr. Ledger found Axel to be a “rock star”, who was playful and friendly and exhibited nothing that would warrant him being labeled a dangerous dog. Meanwhile, Ledger found that lingering pain in Paris’s right hind leg, from an operation during the summer, made her very guarded and unable to even sit at Ledger’s command.

This week, Carol Reichert, founder of the Richmond Animal Protection Society, which operates the Richmond Animal Shelter, tendered her resignation. Reached Thursday afternoon, Reichert declined to comment, but noted she was scheduled to retire in six weeks, and the society’s contract with the city expires in 10 months.

While she’ll be gone, the need for the society will remain, and Reichert said the society’s board would be seeking someone to fill her shoes.

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