Dog owner nips at regional district in court

Paul MacNeil, owner of German shepherd Cane, is suing the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and several of its employees

THE OWNER of a dog, which spent nearly a year in an animal shelter here after biting a child while a court order was sought for its destruction, is suing to recover some of his legal costs.

Paul MacNeil has named the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and several of its employees in seeking $25,000 spent in successfully preventing the regional district from obtaining the order to destroy Cane, a German shepherd.

“At this point, this is a small claims court matter to recover some of Paul’s costs but there are issues involved which are troubling as far as [the regional district’s] actions and lack of action,” said Ken Anderson, lawyer for MacNeil.

In April 2012, police seized Cane from MacNeil’s home after receiving a call that he had bit a child. Cane was first placed in the Terrace shelter as the Thornhill Animal Shelter wasn’t open and later moved to the Thornhill shelter.

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

MacNeil’s notice of claim indicates he “is seeking compensation for his legal costs, including the fees and disbursements billed by Ken Anderson, plus the cost of Dr. Rebecca Ledger, the animal behaviour specialist retained to assist him.”

It alleges that when the dog was released from the shelter “Cane was disoriented, having difficulty standing and swallowing and had been injected with a drug in anticipation of a destruction order [the regional district] had been pursuing in court.”

The notice of civil claim also alleges that the regional district “filed the application for a destruction order out of time, acted in bad faith in seeking the destruction order instead of a remedy under the bylaw, chose to ‘expert shop’ to obtain an expert opinion that Cane was ‘dangerous,’ as defined in the Community Charter, choosing to obtain the opinion of a local veterinarian instead of obtaining the opinion of a local dog trainer once [the regional district] determined that the opinion of that trainer might be favourable to Cane.”

It alleges that regional district staff member “Angela Vanderboon, on the day the court decision came down, before the decision was given, injected Cane with a drug to sedate him in preparation for the destruction order [the regional district] anticipated obtaining. That injection [the regional district] had no authority to administer and could have had – and may yet have – serious consequences for Cane.”

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

As of late last week, the regional district had yet to file a response.


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