Humane Society Yukon went to court to claim ownership of Trevor the dog when Whitehorse bylaw services would not recognize our claim.
This process was initiated by a member of the public, Kevin Sinclair, who believed the city was not acting in the public’s best interest by refusing to acknowledge our claim. Whenever an animal is adopted from the Humane Society, our adoption contract gives us the right, as well as the obligation, to follow up with that animal in the interests of his/her well-being.
It was not our preference to go to court. We wished to work co-operatively with the city to get Trevor into a safe environment where he could be provided with the care and training he so desperately needs. However, the city opted to go to court instead.
Humane Society Yukon is self-represented in court, and we have kept our costs to a minimum.
Our case has been built using volunteer time. However, as residents of Whitehorse, we are all paying for the costs of this court case through our taxes. This is a shame, as so many issues like this one can be solved to everyone’s satisfaction without engaging the legal system.
The court has recognized our claim of ownership of Trevor, and we have now been granted ownership by court order. We are also bound under court order to work with Whitehorse to have Trevor’s behaviour assessed to see if he can be rehabilitated.
To contain costs, we wished to draw upon local expertise in having Trevor assessed. There are trainers in town with ample experience assessing and rehabilitating aggressive dogs. The city required a veterinarian with a specialty in animal behaviour to perform the assessment. We proposed the name of Shelley Breadner, a veterinarian from Saanichton, BC, and she came to Whitehorse to perform the assessment.
The city paid for her travel, hotel and meals, and the Humane Society paid for the assessment.
In her assessment report, Breadner diagnosed Trevor with “lack of impulse control,” a condition that will require lifelong management because he may react unpredictably to perceived conflict.
Breadner did not answer the question of whether she thinks Trevor can be rehabilitated. We will have another day in court to have this question answered.
Breadner called Trevor a dangerous dog in her report, though she was not tasked with making that determination in her assessment. The process of declaring a dog as dangerous is a procedural one, outlined clearly in the animal control bylaw. The decision to declare a dog dangerous lies in the hands of the manager of bylaw services, and involves a process of documentation of complaints, notification of the owner, right to respond and the right to appeal.
Declaring a dog as dangerous is not a clinical process requiring the professional opinion of a veterinarian, or other expert.
When the city designates a dog as dangerous, the owner has a right to respond and to appeal that decision. The owner also has the opportunity to meet the requirements of the bylaw for keeping that dog: a fenced yard, a muzzle for the dog when out in public, liability insurance and so forth.
Humane Society Yukon is committed to continuing to work with Trevor, while taking the necessary precautions in the interest of public safety. We have a whole community of support behind us, including volunteers who walk him, train him and have offered to give him a home.
The city stated in court that it is their intention to kill Trevor. We don’t understand why they are unwilling to work with us on this. Many other aggressive dogs are permitted to live in the city, so long as the owners are able and willing to meet certain safety requirements.
In our experience, Trevor is an unruly, energetic, good-spirited dog. He is friendly and enthusiastic. As he has spent most of his short life on a chain, at the pound or at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, he has had very little opportunity to learn dog manners.
Since he was returned to the shelter last month, he has been attending obedience classes with Canines and Company’s certified training director, Erika Rozsa-Atkinson. She is confident Trevor can be trained, and that he has huge potential. She has many years of experience working with aggressive dogs and Trevor is well within the range of what she can work with.
Trevor isn’t ‘just another dog’ to us. He is Trevor. As with all the animals in our care, we know him, care for him, and wish to provide him with whatever special attention he requires.
We only ask to be given that chance.
Humane Society Yukon
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