One of two Newfoundland dogs could still face death after she was determined to be dangerous at the conclusion of a year-long legal battle in the Comox Valley.
The other dog was cleared by the courts of attacking a neighbouring Jack Russell terrier and is free to go.
Champ, the male, will return to his owner Jacques Manseau, while Chum, the female, will have to wait another 30 days while lawyers for the two sides try to agree on her fate.
That could mean being euthanized or returned to her breeder in Saskatchewan. Any agreement must be approved by the court, said provincial court Judge Roderick Sutton.
Sutton held off on ordering Chum's destruction and said that he was in favour of the animal spending the rest of her life with Champ's breeder in Saskatchewan. The breeder has offered to care for both dogs.
Sutton said that is has been a difficult case, made more so by the fact that there were no witnesses to the attack.
The case began in January 2012 when Chum and Champ were accused of attacking a neighbouring Jack Russell terrier through two shared wire fences. According to the Jack Russell's owner Martyn Thomas, the dog was found injured between the two fences before being picked up by Manseau and passed to Thomas.
Chum and Champ were seized Jan. 26, 2012, by the Comox Valley Regional District, which originally sought to have them declared dangerous and destroyed.
Manseau's wife Edith was the primary caretaker of the dogs but she died in November. Manseau spends months at a time working in Alberta and so felt unable to care for the dogs on his own, he said outside court.
"I think the judge was right to make both parties happy. Give one, keep one," said Manseau, who added that he would like to see his dogs together. "Not to Saskatchewan because it's so cold there. They're old … I [would] like it better [if] they go to the Mainland."
Troy DeSouza, lawyer for the CVRD, said he was satisfied with the decision.
"Judge Sutton has made a King Solomon-like decision. He has reviewed all the facts in great detail and I think the court was very detailed in its reasons in coming to what I think is a very fair and just decision," he said. "Champ is not a dangerous dog and so Champ is free to go. Chum, however, is a dangerous dog … Our preference would be that both dogs [stay] together and both dogs go to Saskatchewan."
Sutton found Chum to be dangerous according to section 49(1B) of the Community Charter, which states that a dog that "has killed or seriously injured a domestic animal, while in a public place or while on private property, other than property owned or occupied by the person responsible for the dog" is considered dangerous.
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