On April 26, Chum succumbed to the harm inflicted on her by the Comox Valley Regional District animal control department under the auspices of the Community Charter, Section 49, the “dangerous dogs act.”
It is not quite two months since Chum was rehomed after a year of ordeal.
She died in excruciating agony, which she had likely been suffering for at least months. She had cancer throughout her lungs and bone cancer so bad that her leg had fractured.
Under the ‘dangerous’ dogs act, dogs can be seized for getting in a dog fight and on the opinion of one animal control bylaw officer, most of whom are generally ignorant of dog behaviour.
The act makes a leap of erroneous reasoning in assuming a dog to be a potential danger to humans if that dog shows aggression toward another animal. It is also assumed that no matter what the conditions of the dog’s show of ferocity, that dog is not trainable and the only recourse is death.
The CVRD sought to have both Chum and Champ killed — and spent a year and a great deal of taxpayers’ money toward achieving that goal.
There never was any actual evidence that either Chum or Champ had ever harmed a person or animal, not even the dog over whom Chum was convicted.
An animal behaviourist testified that neither dog was a threat to the community. The judge chose to listen to him on Champ’s side, but not for Chum.
When dogs are seized the owner has two options — to allow the CVRD to kill their dog(s) immediately or to fight for their dog(s). If owners decide to fight for the lives of their dogs, the process is guaranteed to last at least a year and will cost between $50,000 to $100,000.
Some owners agree to the killing of their dog because they either cannot afford the cost or because they know that a year or more in a cage is harmful and cruel to dogs both emotionally and physically.
I don’t expect repentance from those who exercise animal control, but I certainly hope there is authority above that department able to see how tragic this case has been for both the animals and their families and will ensure accountability and humanity in future cases.