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SPCA seizes dog after owner tells therapy group he threw it across a room

A Vancouver man who told a therapy group that he threw his dog across his room in a fit of anger has had the animal taken away.
A dog at the Vancouver SPCA. The agency was awarded ownership[ of a dog (not pictured) after its owner told a therapy session he had thrown his dog in a fit of anger.

A Vancouver man who told a therapy group that he threw his dog across his room in a fit of anger has had the animal taken away.

The SPCA seized the dog, named Koba, in May after an employee with Vancouver’s Drug Treatment Court overheard the dog’s owner make a comment about the incident during a court-mandated group counselling session. A vet later found the dog had a dislocated leg consistent with being thrown.

A description of the incident is contained in a Farm Industry Review Board decision about whether or not Koba should be returned to his owner. The independent tribunal issues rulings when a person appeals an SPCA seizure and seeks to have an animal returned to them.

In the decision dated July 26, 2017, the board found in favour of the SPCA and gave the society discretion to care for Koba.

The appeal was filed by Chad Hubick, who was attending a program at the Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver at the time. The court provides an alternative justice process for people who commit offences because they have a drug addiction.

At the Farm Industry Board hearing, an addictions counsellor said she was “in shock” after hearing Hubick tell his therapy group he had thrown his dog across his room because it had defecated on his $800 carpet. The counsellor said that when she asked Hubick for clarification after the session, he said “the dog was okay as he took it for a walk afterward.”

The counsellor spoke to her supervisor, as well as a probation officer, and the team decided to call the SPCA . While program participants sign confidentiality agreements to keep discussions private, there is an exclusion for safety risks. The counsellor did not know if a “safety risk to an animal is explicitly stated in the handbook, but her own interpretation, as well as the team’s interpretation, was that it did include an animal,” said the FIRB decision.

Hubick was not happy to learn his admission would be reported to the SPCA and allegedly threatened staff at the drug court, the ruling said. He was suspended from the program, and a court order dated June 20, 2017 told him to avoid further contact with staff.

When Koba was seized by an SPCA constable, Hubick denied abusing the dog, saying he believed his comment had been misinterpreted, said the board decision.

A vet examined Koba and found “severe right rear leg lameness.” The vet said he was “certain” the injury had been caused by trauma.

Several of Hubick’s friends testified on the dog owner’s behalf, with one telling the tribunal that “one could not ask for a better bond between a dog and (his owner). It is sad that the dog was seized and now the appellant has to fight to get his best friend back.”

Hubick also testified in his defence, saying Koba had always “walked weird” and blamed her leg problems on a genetic condition. He said “he could not have thrown a 70-pound dog as he is not superman (but) it was possible …

that he might have said that he felt like he could throw the dog.”

In his decision, the board adjudicator said he believed Koba was in distress and had been denied vet treatment.

“The uncontroverted evidence of the (SPCA’s) veterinarians is that Koba was in pain and suffering, having had his right rear leg ripped out of its hip socket,” he wrote.

“It is my sincere wish that the (SPCA) find a new owner for Koba who can provide the necessary veterinary care to return Koba to good health as Koba is a dog that, in my view, deserves a chance to be happy and healthy and pain-free.”