Drug dog case gets false start

A battle over whether a drug-sniffing black Lab will be allowed in a local high school had its first day in Yukon Supreme Court this week.

A battle over whether a drug-sniffing black Lab will be allowed in a local high school had its first day in Yukon Supreme Court this week.

And it was a slow start.

The bulk of the matter was adjourned until next week to give Porter Creek Secondary School’s council and the Yukon Human Rights Commission time to get their dogs, er, ducks in a row.

Although the school itself was represented at the proceeding by Crown lawyer Penelope Gawn, neither the council nor the commission had lawyers present.

The case stems from a complaint from one 15-year-old student at the high school who is allergic to dogs.

Last year, the student’s family appealed to the human rights commission to step in and bar the canine from the school.

But, in August, the commission dismissed the family’s complaint.

So they took the matter to Yukon Supreme Court.

Defense lawyer Sharleen Dumont is asking the court to review the case and send it back to the human rights commission’s board of adjudication, which is a more formal hearing.

“Basically, we believe that they didn’t apply the right legal test when they dismissed the complaint,” said Dumont outside the courtroom.

And she’s asking for the case to be heard before September 24, when the dog is slated to begin walking the school’s hallways.

If that doesn’t happen she will seek an interim injunction to keep the dog out of the school until the case is settled.

But Dumont did win a small victory on Tuesday.

Justice Ron Veale granted her request that a publication ban be placed on the name of the 15-year-old girl and her family who brought the action to court.

The idea to put a drug dog in the school came from a group of concerned parents who approached school principal Kerry Huff and members of the school council with information about the Canines for Safer Schools Program.

The dog arrived in Whitehorse a few weeks ago and is being handled by former Edmonton police officer Doug Green.

The hearing was adjourned until Monday at 2 p.m.

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