'It's devastating': Local woman weighing options to save dangerous dog
A local woman is weighing her options following a decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal to have her dog destroyed after he bit a woman in 2017.
It all started in the off-leash dog area at Spanish Banks when Punky, an Australian cattle dog, attacked a woman, causing what were described in court documents as serious injuries to her hand, finger, leg, knee and ankle.
For the last two years Punky has been held at the Vancouver Animal Services centre while his owner, Susan Santics, fights the city to keep him alive.
Santics has only been to see her dog through a chain link fence for half an hour a week.
"It's been horrible. It's very sad he's in there and I can't play with him, I can hardly touch him … through the fence. It's devastating," Santics told CTV Morning Live in a sit-down interview this week, adding that his time with Animal Services is taking its toll on the animal.
"He is showing some stress signs like heavy panting at times," she said. "Other times he seems to be doing better, so one week it could be very horrible with a lot of other outside dogs barking and crying and other weeks they're out in the yard, so it's OK."
After losing her initial court case against the city, Santics took Punky's case to B.C. top court, but the three justices denied her appeal in part because the dog is a repeat offender, having bitten at least two others before the incident at Spanish Banks.
When asked, Santics said she believes she can confidently say her dog wouldn't bite again.
"I believe I can because now I have the tools to train him," she said. "I know that I can muzzle him. I can have a harness with a double clip with two leashes on the front and the back."
Santics said she's also been offered three months of training from a cattle dog trainer in Kamloops.
While the dog owner doesn't deny Punky's history of aggression, Santics' lawyer, Victoria Shroff said the question of whether aggressive dogs should be destroyed comes down to the severity of the attacks.
"I think it depends on the severity of the bites," she said. "Dogs bite. They do. This is what happens with dogs. This is a natural canine behaviour. It's about the severity of the bite, whether it was provoked and all the circumstances surrounding it."
As of the Aug. 9 Court of Appeal rulig, Santics had 60 days to decide whether she'd take her appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. If she doesn't, Punky will be put down.