The fate of two young Newfoundland dogs should be determined by early fall, as a court hearing for an application to destroy the dogs brought forth by the Comox Valley Regional District concluded Monday.
The two dogs — Chum and Champ — owned by Black Creek couple Edith and Jacques Manseau 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.
Monday, the Manseau’s lawyer Eric Chesterley called three final witnesses — the dogs’ veterinarian Stacey Gastis; Comox resident Ken Beachey, who examined the Manseau’s property; and canine behavourial expert Gary Gibson.
The CVRD is claiming a small Jack Russell terrier belonging to the Manseau’s next-door neighbour was dragged through a wire fence by their dogs, and received serious injuries to the throat and back.
Gastis testified he treats injuries on animals from dog bites “on a weekly basis” and most are puncture wounds from canine teeth.
He noted after looking at the patient chart of the Jack Russell, he could not find anything that he would describe as puncture wounds, and said the injuries are more typical of an industrial accident, with lesions most commonly seen in horses.
“If there was a bite, I would expect to see multiple fang bites in the chest,” he added.
Troy DeSouza, the lawyer for the CVRD, quested Gastis if his wife, veterinarian Tammi Whelan, could be considered an advocate for the Newfoundland dogs.
“Yes,” he replied.
After showing a behavourial video shot at the SPCA, which showed Gibson and his partner taking the dogs through various tests, Gibson told court Champ is “one of the least aggressive dogs you’ll ever find. He doesn’t want to react to dogs in any way, shape or form.”
He described Chum as “much more people-oriented and interactive” but when faced with an agitated dog in a kennel without much room to manoeuvre, Gibson said Chum “will not initiate a fight or an aggressive act, but will fight back if it happens.”
DeSouza told court he believes there is an option in this hearing: If Crown proves its case, to either grant the application to euthanize the dogs, or if it doesn’t, to deny the application.
He noted there are cases where Crown can seek for a conditional destruction order, but in his written submission, DeSouza said it should not apply in this case.
A conditional destruction order has four guidelines —the dog owners have complied with the law; rehabilitation for the dog(s) is likely to succeed; dog owners are responsible owners and the conditional order will ensure public safety.
If one of the conditions are breached, the dog will then be destroyed.
Both lawyers will submit written closing arguments, and a decision could be made in September, with a date to be determined.