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Deal reached to spare Rottweilers

Prabjot Nijjer visits her dog Axel earlier this year. Her Rottweilers are being held at the Richmond Animal Shelter following a biting incident last year. - Martin van den Hemel
Prabjot Nijjer visits her dog Axel earlier this year. Her Rottweilers are being held at the Richmond Animal Shelter following a biting incident last year.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

Axel and Paris appear to be headed home in the near future now that the City of Richmond and the Nijjer family have reached an agreement.

The brother-sister Rottweilers have been held by the City of Richmond at the Richmond Animal Shelter facility on No. 5 Road since being seized last October following a minor biting incident. The two dogs escaped their family’s Alberta Road backyard, and slipped into a townhouse construction site, where they came across a worker, who suffered a dime-sized injury when Axel nipped him in the leg.

In the aftermath of the October incident, and a couple of others, the City of Richmond sought to have the dogs destroyed.

On Thursday morning, lawyer Jim Lees, representing the City of Richmond, and lawyers Joe Peschisolido and Sandy Sihota, hired by Prabjot Nijjer and her son Nav, appeared in Richmond provincial court to make a joint submission.

But due to a lack of court time, the case was rescheduled for Friday afternoon, at which point a judge is expected to hear the submission, and make a ruling on the fate of the dogs.

Even if the judge goes along with the joint submission, it will be some time before Axel and Paris are released to the Nijjer family, Lees said.

The agreement addresses concerns about public safety, while also returning the two pets to the Nijjer home, he added.

Peschisolido said the agreement will spare taxpayers the time and money of a costly trial, which was expected to last several days.

In a last-ditch effort to avoid a trial, the Nijjers on April 4 proposed to:

• transfer the dogs to the secure care and control of a professional animal behaviourist and trainer of the City of Richmond’s choice, upon their release;

• the dogs would undergo intensive professional retraining and sensitization to ensure the safety of the public, after which they would be returned to the Nijjer family;

• Navdeep Nijjer would attend dog training classes;

• a professional dog kennel expert, selected by the City of Richmond, will confirm animal behaviouralist Rebecca Ledger’s report that the Nijjer’s kennel is in compliance with safety standards;

• the dogs would be muzzled in steel muzzles at all times;

• the dogs would undergo periodic checkups with the city approved behaviourist for a total of three years;

• Rebecca Ledger will attend the school of Henry Anderson Elementary and provide awareness classes for students and the staff, at the expense of the Nijjers;

• Navdeep Nijjer will complete an indemnity agreement indemnifying the City for any future incidents;

• if any of the conditions are breached, Navdeep Nijjer shall pay a $3,000 fine;

• if either Axel or Paris seriously injure a person during any portion of their lifetime, they have the consent of Navdeep Nijjer for the immediate destruction by humane methods, at the cost of Navdeep Nijjer.

The joint submission to the court contains the same conditions as in the proposal, Peschisolido and Lees said.

The dogs were deemed dangerous by the city in 2010 after they escaped from their yard and attacked a leashed Dachshund before chasing some children at nearby Henry Anderson Elementary.

•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 Axel 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.

Dogs were declared dangerous in 2010

Axel (also spelled as Axle) and Paris have been involved in three incidents.

•On Sept. 20, 2010, Jessica Lee and Jeff Chiang were walking their two leashed Dachshund dogs  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 other Rottweiler also charged to attack.

The dogs then followed four children who had been watching the attack back to their 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, Richmond provincial court records indicate.

The city classified the dogs as dangerous.

•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 Axel 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.

•On Oct. 25, 2013, Axel and Paris escaped from their yard and nipped construction worker Dustin Wang. Wang told The Richmond Review that the injury was so minor he didn't even initially notice it.

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