dangerous dog

Dangerous dog designation dropped

 

Town hall sign

By Ron Giofu

 

A dangerous dog designation that was levied against a local German Shepherd has been dropped by town council.

The dog got loose from its collar and had an “interaction” with another dog in August and, after an investigation, saw it designated by bylaw enforcement officer B.J. Wilder. The hearing, held before town council last Wednesday evening, saw it dropped in a 5-1 vote with only Councillor Diane Pouget being opposed.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was not at the hearing, as he was attending an Essex Power board meeting.

“It’s the right decision,” Laura Joy, lawyer for the dog owner stated after the hearing. “Amherstburg is very lucky. They have good representation.”

During the hearing, Joy said her client was victim of “a terrible tragedy” in 1995 that has left him with medical conditions necessitating the need for an alert dog. The dog, named Ninja, would have had to be muzzled in public, wear a red dog tag to identify her as a dangerous dog and the town would have had to be notified if there was a change of address and/or ownership or if the dog had died.

“This dog is like a Disney dog,” Joy told council. “This dog took a frozen duck and saved it.”

The interaction between Ninja and the other dog didn’t leave “even a hint of a bite,” Joy added.

Joy said there are letters from neighbors, a veterinarian and staff at Wings Rehab Centre which vouch for the dog being a peaceful dog.

“Even material eye-witnesses are supporting Ninja,” she said. “My client’s mental and physical health is dependent on this beautiful animal.”

Wilder said Ninja entered the road allowance and had an interaction with another dog. During the investigation, Wilder said Ninja’s owner was very cooperative.

“No one is saying it’s a mean or aggressive dog,” Wilder said of Ninja. “The obligation on the town is not to take any chances.”

Wilder said he can’t speak to an animal’s intentions and the restraints were put in place to mitigate any possible incidents in the future.

“I’m not qualified to say if a dog will do it again but I have to put measures in place to ensure it won’t happen again,” said Wilder.

Councillor Jason Lavigne wasn’t convinced that Ninja should be qualified as dangerous, believing it was a case of one dog leaving its front yard and approaching another dog.

“I’m a little concerns that when two dogs approach each other, we could end up designating every dog in Amherstburg a dangerous dog,” said Lavigne.

Councillor Rick Fryer said after the meeting he believed the dangerous dog designation “was something that shouldn’t have been done.” He added that as an alert dog, Ninja was acting as it was supposed to.

Pouget said safety of the residents is most important and that is why she voted to maintain the designation.

“Our job is to make sure we keep our residents safe and I think this is what B.J. is trying to do with the dangerous dog designation,” she said.