The heavy handed response to this incident should be concerning to all dog owners. While a City spokesperson has indicated that they have additional information that has influenced this application, it is important to consider despite the fact that these dogs were not designated dangerous dogs, the City can extend their power to instantly remove dogs from their families and to keep them away from their families until the matter is resolved – for better or for worse. According to the City’s Animal Control Bylaw, a dangerous dog means:
(a) any dog that has killed or injured:
(i) a person, or
(ii) a companion animal or domestic animal while running
at large; or
(b) any dog that an Animal Control Officer has reasonable
grounds to believe is likely to kill or seriously injure a person;
(c) any dog that aggressively harasses or pursues a person or
companion animal or domestic farm animal while running
at large; or
(d) any dog owned, primarily or in part, for the purpose of dog
fighting or that is trained for dog fighting;
(e) a Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Pit Bull,
Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or
any dog of mixed breeding which includes any of these breeds;
or any dog which has the appearance and physical
characteristics predominantly conforming to the standards for
any of the above breeds; or
(f) any dog that, according to the records of the SPCA, RCMP or
other municipality, or to the knowledge of the owner, has
killed, injured, or aggressively harassed or pursued a person or
Surely, if these two Rottweilers had histories of aggression that would designate a non pit bull type dog as dangerous, the City would have been quick to disclose that information, but they have not. And by all accounts, these two dogs are not aggressive, and have been described as “amazing and loving dogs”. But because the City, for reasons unknown to us, have decided that they should be killed, they sit in the city shelter. Their family is not allowed to see them, and it will be at least another four months before this issue will have a chance to be resolved.
It is actually unclear, on what authority the City has for the seizure and confinement of these two dogs, as there is nothing in the animal control bylaws that ultimately gives them this right. But there is also nothing that gives the owners of these two dogs any rights. So there is very little recourse this family has, but to wait until April.
The City of Richmond appears to be one of only a few municipalities left in BC with an antiquated approach to animal control. And it is up to its residents to demand change, and to help seek justice for these dogs (and the others who will surely follow).
How can you help? Email Mayor and Council (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let them know that they have far exceeded their powers, and this heavy handed approached will not be tolerated. Demand that they return Axle and Paris to their family. Your dog could be next.