Dog owner drops attempt at compensation

Thornhill, BC man had successfully stopped his dog from being destroyed

A THORNHILL resident who successfully went to court and saved his dog from being destroyed has now dropped an attempt to be compensated for his costs.

Paul MacNeil had started a court action for compensation against the Kitimat-Stikine regional district, which had wanted his dog destroyed, but abandoned the effort shortly before a hearing was to be held Jan. 20.

“The bottom line is we didn’t have a case,” said MacNeil Jan. 21. “It would’ve cost another $30,000. I can’t afford that.”

He says he should have asked for compensation at the time of the first court proceedings.

MacNeil’s decision came after speaking with his lawyer and with his mother who has worked in the legal profession for 40 years.

In April 2012, police seized MacNeil’s German shepherd Cane from MacNeil’s Thornhill home after receiving a call that he had bit a child.

Cane was first placed in the Terrace shelter as the regional district’s Thornhill Animal Shelter wasn’t open and later moved to the Thornhill shelter.

The regional district applied to the court for an order of destruction for the dog.

It took nearly a year for the destruction order attempt to get to trial, culminating Feb. 28, 2013 when, after two days of testimony, the judge determined that none of the conditions to declare the dog dangerous had been satisfied.

On Sept. 26, 2013 MacNeil filed a notice of claim to recover some of his legal costs, naming the regional district and several of its employees in seeking $25,000 spent in successfully preventing the regional district from obtaining the order to destroy Cane.

The action against the regional district also alleged that regional district administrator Bob Marcellin said MacNeil was entitled to compensation but there was no followup and a promised written report on the whole matter was never provided.

The regional district reply, filed Oct. 24, 2013, said Marcellin denied making any offer or promise of financial compensation for the handling of MacNeil’s dog, but Marcellin did admit to asking MacNeil how the regional district might make amends for the sedation of Cane on that day.

The planned Jan. 20 hearing was for a settlement conference, session to determine if the two sides could come to an agreement or if that wasn’t possible, to prepare their cases for trial.

Marcellin said he was glad the suit had been dropped.

“The whole situation has been unfortunate and has been hard on all parties involved,” he said. “I’m glad it is over.”

Marcellin said he apologized on behalf of the regional district to MacNeil for what had happened.

“Some things were unfortunate on our part,” he said.

“Some things we shouldn’t have done,” Marcellin added, saying he was referring to the “drugging of the dog.”

Marcellin didn’t want to comment on whether any discipline or reprimands were directed toward regional district staff involved or what that discipline may have been.