Kristopher Benson holds on to the leash of his dog that viciously attacked a woman in Garrison Crossing in Chilliwack on Aug. 31, 2017. Benson fled the scene, hid the dog and altered its colour but animal control seized it and it was eventually destroyed by court order. (Submitted)

Higher fines for owners of dogs that kill other dogs in Fraser Valley Regional District

Change to animal control bylaw among several to deal with ‘aggressive’ dogs

Owners of dogs that kill other dogs will soon face higher fines in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).

Before amendments were made to the FVRD’s animal control bylaw at the last board meeting, there was a $250 fine for “dog causing injury.”

Staff has now separated out the word “kill” from the phrase “attack, bite, kill or cause injury” from that section of the bylaw.

“This allows for the implementation of greater fines for attacks that result in mortality,” according to a staff report.

Step two of the process will be to decide upon what that higher fine will be.

The change is one among many to the animal control bylaw, most dealing with “aggressive” dogs. One further clarification is regarding transport of aggressive dogs, which now have to be muzzled if a dog is leaving its enclosure or house to be put in a vehicle where it must also be muzzled.

“Unfortunately, situations have occurred where an aggressive dog during transition to a vehicle or an enclosure has escaped, or while in a vehicle has jumped out of the window,” staff report.

Another change will allow dog owners more time to prepare an appeal if a dog has been designated “aggressive” under the bylaw

The definition of “aggressive” in the bylaw is lengthy but is essentially a dog that has already attacked or bitten a person or a domestic animal; has aggressively harassed a person or domestic animal; is kept for dog fighting; or is a “dangerous” dog.

And the definition of a “dangerous dog” under the Community Charter is a dog that has killed or seriously injured a person; killed or seriously injured a domestic animal off the owner’s property; or a dog that an animal control officer has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to kill or seriously injure a person.

Staff noted that in addition to fines and restrictions for “aggressive” dogs, the FVRD has the ability to pursue a destruction order from the provincial courts if deemed necessary.

A recent instance of this occurred last year when the FVRD applied to have a dog euthanized after it viciously attacked a woman and her smaller dog in Garrison Crossing.

The attack left the woman with serious tendon damage and psychological trauma. She spoke to The Progress but asked that her name not be used because of the criminal history of the large pit bull’s owner, Kristopher Benson.

Benson fled the scene of the attack later keeping it hidden for nearly a month, even changing its colour. Because it was already deemed aggressive it was microchipped so was found soon after.

Benson defended his dog in court, but Judge Andrea Ormiston sided with the FVRD and ordered the large pit bull destroyed.

“It is my conclusion [that the dog] is a significant risk to the public that can’t be managed by his owner,” Ormiston decided.

• READ MORE: Pit bull involved in vicious attack in Chilliwack to be destroyed

• RELATED: B.C. woman shaken ‘like a rag doll’ in devastating dog attack


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paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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