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Judge OKs deal to free dogs

Prabjot Nijjer visited her dog Axel in January. - Martin van den Hemel
Prabjot Nijjer visited her dog Axel in January.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

A Richmond provincial court judge ruled Friday that he was "entirely satisfied" that the public's safety interests were met in a deal reached between the City of Richmond and the owners of two Rottweilers that have been declared dangerous.

Judge Raymond Low agreed with the joint submission made by lawyer Jim Lees, representing the City of Richmond, and lawyers Joe Peschisolido and Sandy Sihota, representing Nav Nijjer and his parents Prabjot and Raj Nijjer.

Nav pled guilty to being the owner of two dangerous dogs and failing to keep them confined. He was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

It could still be a matter of days or weeks, before the Nijjer family gets their dogs Axel and Paris back.

Nav and his mother must complete dog training classes, and the dogs must be assessed by a dog training centre,. A professional dog behaviourist selected jointly by the City of Richmond and the Nijjers will assess the dogs, and then complete a written report "stating that the dogs pose no threat to the safety of the public, either alone or together, and that Navdeep Nijjer has completed the training as required by the behaviourist," the agreement states.

Outside the courtroom, the Nijjers were relieved they'll soon get their dogs back.

"I feel great that I'll get my dogs back soon. It should have happened sooner," Prabjot Nijjer said.

The Rottweilers have been kept at Richmond's animal shelter on No. 5 Road since a minor biting incident involving a construction worker after the dogs escaped their Alberta Road backyard.

The other final conditions include:

• the dogs can't return to their Alberta Road home until the property has met both safety requirements and animal control and regulation bylaw requirements

• neither dog shall be give to the care or control of anyone unless they are aware of the compliance order and they have completed dog training classes

• at the request of the principal or vice principal at Henry Anderson Elementary School, an animal behaviourist will attend the school to provide awareness classes for students and the parents of students

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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