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Chum and Champ could return home to Black Creek if proper enclosure is built

The fate of two young Newfoundland dogs will be determined in early December, following a delay in a decision after the conclusion of a hearing for an application to destroy the dogs brought forth by the Comox Valley Regional District in July.

A decision was scheduled for last week, but was delayed until Dec. 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the Courtenay courthouse.

Black Creek couple Edith and Jacques Manseau's two dogs — Chum and Champ — are being held at the Comox Valley SPCA following seizure spurred from a Jan. 5 complaint of a vicious dog attack.

The three-day hearing, which began in March, heard from various witnesses, including neighbours, former tenants and the regional district's animal control officer.

Leigh Carter, general manager of public affairs and information systems at the CVRD, confirmed the dogs remain in holding at the SPCA, but the CVRD has offered the Manseaus an interim solution.

"That if they build a proper fence and enclosure for their dogs (which bylaw compliance and the SPCA would verify), that the dogs be returned to them until the judge is ready to make his decision, based on the evidence and the testimony from various sources that he heard in court," she noted in an e-mail to The Record.

Carter added the issue over the past two-plus years has been related to public safety.

"There were many accounts and complaints of the dogs running at large, harassing farm animals, attacking two dogs on separate occasions, and then attacking and seriously injuring another dog in January of this year, which resulted in the written complaint, the investigation and seizure of the dogs, and the court case," she explained.

"Throughout the past two years, the Manseaus advised that they would be building a proper fence or enclosure to contain their dogs, but they never did."

Edith Manseau noted it was her lawyer — Eric Chesterley — who petitioned the court to allow her dogs to return to their home until the decision in December.

She confirmed the fence construction will be "a yard inside my yard" and will be of chain-link construction.

"They've been curled up in cages (at the SPCA) for 10 months, and now the dogs will be able to stretch," she said.

Manseau noted she hopes the fenced area, which will be 330 feet wide and around 250 feet long, will be inspected very soon. She added Tuesday she has contacted her lawyer as the fence should be completed by the end of the day.

Carter acknowledged the interest the case has received online and through various social media sites — locally and internationally — but added the CVRD has not officially heard back from the Manseaus' lawyer that they have accepted their offer and are working towards a solution.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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