He had the right to kill dogs, says shooter

John and Dee Teertstra, the Tagish residents who shot their neighbour's dogs, say they had a right to do so. Two weeks ago, the Teertstra's chickens were killed when Kirsten Vetrie's dogs got out of her yard and broke into her neighbour's chicken coop.

John and Dee Teertstra, the Tagish residents who shot their neighbour’s dogs, say they had a right to do so.

Two weeks ago, the Teertstra’s chickens were killed when Kirsten Vetrie’s dogs got out of her yard and broke into her neighbour’s chicken coop.

When John discovered his neighbour’s dogs in his chicken run he grabbed a shotgun and killed the dogs.

“I think people have a right to defend their property,” said John.

John shot both dogs in his yard and then went to Vetrie’s house to let her know what he had done, he said.

He did not appear at the door with a shotgun, as was reported in Wednesday’s paper.

It was the second time that Vetrie’s dogs, Dakota and Bella, found their way into the Teertstra’s chicken coop.

In November, the dogs killed 10 laying hens and three turkeys, said Dee.

The Teertstras never told Vetrie what had happened.

Days later, a friend of the Teertstra’s spoke to Vetrie instead.

“I said to my friend, ‘If those dogs come back again, they will get shot’,” said Dee.

But because the Teertstras didn’t speak to Vetrie themselves, they’re not sure if the warning was ever relayed.

They were hoping that Vetrie would end up hearing about the incident and approach them instead.

“If your dog killed (your neighbours’) chickens wouldn’t you apologize?” said John.

“Those people should have come over in the fall, paid us for what (their dogs) killed and kept their dogs on a chain!”

Two weeks ago, when the dogs got into the chicken coop, they killed 29 chickens and five turkeys, said Dee. The Teertstras say their chickens and turkeys were worth thousands.

“(Vetrie) doesn’t have a clue how much it costs,” said Dee.

“There’s the money to purchase the chickens and then also the time to care for them and the lost income from egg sales.”

She thinks destroying Vetrie’s dogs was fair.

“If you have dogs marauding your livestock you should have the right to shoot them,” said Dee.

“I’ve heard of dogs being shot for less than that on people’s property.

“Of course we figured that they weren’t going to be happy, but you’ve got to bite the bullet.”

According to the territorial Dog Act, a person may kill a dog that is running at large in the act of pursuing or destroying livestock.

John wasn’t even aware of the Dog Act when he set out to shoot Vetrie’s dogs, he said.

The RCMP investigating the case say there are several intersecting laws at work and will be looking at the Wildlife Act and the Criminal Code to see if John is guilty of irresponsible gun use.

Tagish isn’t specifically zoned as a residential area, but John says the lots in his Tagish subdivision are about 30 metres wide. He can see his neighbours’ houses from his property.

Nonetheless, he said shooting off a gun in an area surrounded by homes shouldn’t have been an issue.

“I don’t have a problem with that. I’ve been handling weapons for 40 years,” said John.

“The (shot) doesn’t go beyond 50 yards … It’s not as though I was shooting off a magnum. I chose the weapon for the job.”

Although the RCMP are investigating John under the Wildlife Act, a charge like that wouldn’t stick, said Tony Grabowski, manager of conservation enforcement and compliance for the Yukon.

“I don’t know how (the RCMP) would look into it because the wildlife act doesn’t apply in that situation,” said Grabowski.

“It only applies when you’re hunting. So if an individual killed some dogs, which are domestic, then it’s not considered hunting.”

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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