A Comox Valley-based “dog whisperer” has been granted a second opportunity to assess a dangerous dog held in custody at the Victoria city pound since March.
On Thursday, dog behaviourist Ken Griffiths applied to the provincial court for a second “unhindered” assessment of a five-year-old Dogo Argentino-Rottweiler mix called Bronx that was seized after it killed a smaller dog, bit two people and bit other dogs.
David Giroday, a lawyer for the City of Victoria, which has deemed Bronx a dangerous dog and applied to have him destroyed, opposed the application.
Griffiths’ application described chaotic, stressful conditions during his first assessment of the dog at Victoria Animal Control on Sept. 2.
Judge Christine Lowe, who had seen a video of the assessment, noted that a German shepherd just two kennels down from Bronx barked throughout. “Then the rooster started to crow. I had to say I was a bit shocked by that. I didn’t know where the rooster was. It turns out it was being housed by animal control as well.”
The German shepherd was also jumping up and scratching the walls, said Griffiths.
The Dogo Argentino-Rottweiler mix was seized from owner Richard Bonora after a number of incidents.
In August 2018, he bit a much smaller dog on the back of the head and killed it. In June 2019, unleashed and unmuzzled, he bit another dog. In November 2019, Bronx bit a dog and a person. Finally, in March 2021, he lunged forward and bit a man who walked by him.
After the city deemed Bronx a dangerous dog and applied to have him destroyed, Bonora contacted Griffiths, who has 34 dogs at his house up-Island, to adopt the animal. Griffiths agreed. But the dog was never released to him and the city moved forward with its destruction order. The case is set to go to trial on Monday.
Giroday proposed that the parties retain an independent expert to evaluate Bronx. He suggested that one party identify three animal behavioural experts to assess the dog. The other party could then pick one independent expert. The City of Victoria was also agreeable to adjourning the trial set for Sept. 20, he said.
Lowe said she doesn’t want to see the trial adjourned. “My concern is that this dog has been in jail a long time,” said Lowe. “There is no question there are serious issues with this dog’s behaviour in the community.”
Lowe also heard from Gary Gibson, a Port Alberni dog behaviour consultant who is working with Griffiths. Gibson told the judge it’s important that the shelter be as calm and quiet as possible when the dog is assessed.
“It will give us information about how to resolve issues, how to help the dog overcome these issues, and if the dog can overcome these issues,” said Gibson. “We don’t know that a second assessment is going to do anything, but if we don’t do the second assessment, we’ll never know.”
Senior animal control officer Ian Fraser told the judge that he couldn’t move the two dogs on the day of the first assessment because there were two roosters in the pound.
“You can’t put two roosters together,” said Fraser. “So they are side by side in separate kennels. You can’t put dogs in front of that kennel when there’s roosters in the back.”
Lowe approved Griffiths’ application for a second assessment, saying any dogs adjacent to Bronx should be moved to create a calm space. If the dogs can’t be moved, a blanket could be placed over their kennels to calm them, or Griffiths himself could calm them, she said.
“Is there something that can be done with the roosters?” she asked.
“I can bring them down here for a couple of hours,” Fraser replied.
“It would be a nice distraction … I would take them, if I could, in my chambers. We should put out an all-points-bulletin that there’s a couple of roosters missing their home,” quipped Lowe.