More than a year after a pit bull attacked and killed a yorkie-poodle cross in White Rock, the larger dog received a death sentence in Surrey Provincial Court last week.
However, Pebbles – a Staffordshire – received a reprieve of sorts days earlier, after a break-in and alleged dognapping at the kennel where the city had been paying $700 a month to board the pit bull since the Nov. 22, 2010 attack.
After hearing testimony from five witnesses – including the victim’s owner, Debra Ogilvie – Judge Reginald Harris ruled Friday that Pebbles be classified as a dangerous dog under the BC Community Charter and ordered her to be destroyed humanely by a veterinarian.
Ogilvie and husband Doug Fenwick held hands as the verdict was read.
After court adjourned, Ogilvie said the ruling brought closure after the death of her yorkie-poo, Joey.
“I feel like we can finally, finally get on with our lives and look to the future,” Ogilvie said.
“We are even looking at new dogs.”
Pebbles’ attack on Joey – near Stevens Street and Marine Drive – came after the City of White Rock had banned the pit bull in spring of 2009, following complaints concerning the dog roaming unchecked and attacking other dogs.
Despite efforts of Canada Post letter-carrier Roger Jendral to release the smaller dog from its jaws, Pebbles wouldn’t let go until Joey was dead.
Since that day, the female Staffordshire was being held at Silver Birch Kennels, while the dog’s owner Lisa Shaw asked for a stay of execution.
On Friday, kennel owner Irene Maciagowski told the court that Pebbles was stolen from her South Surrey facility three days earlier.
“Someone took wire cutters and cut through the chain-link fence housing her,” Maciagowski said.
Despite the dog’s absence, Harris agreed with the city’s lawyer, Don Howieson, that proceedings should continue. However, Harris denied Howieson’s request that Shaw pay at least a portion of the city’s legal and kennel fees.
During the hearing, Howieson called two witnesses who testified about previous attacks involving the pit bull, including Andrea McArthur, who told the court that Pebbles had attacked her 22-pound Cairn terrier, Moxie, in November 2008.
Jendral also testified, explaining how he had thrown himself on top of the pit bull in order to restrain her. According to the letter carrier, there was no way to stop the attack.
“She just went right for the little dog, grabbed him by the neck and flung him around like a rag doll,” Jendral told the court.
Throughout testimony, Ogilvie tried unsuccessfully to hold back tears.
“It’s been so long, and we’ve waited and waited, and it’s finally over,” she told Peace Arch News outside court.
Although defence counsel Bill Jessop did not oppose witness accounts of the dog’s violence towards other dogs, he did question the dog’s ownership.
Jessop argued the entire application should be dismissed as Pebbles’ real owner, Walter Wittchen, had not been formally summoned.
Wittchen has long been critical of the city’s handling of the case, repeatedly emailing the city contending that city staff had breached their own bylaws and misrepresented facts, noting that the city appointed planning director Paul Stanton and site supervisor B.J. Wyman as animal-control officers only one one week after Joey’s death.
(City manager Peggy Clark told PAN at the time that while the appointments were a provincial requirement annually – and hadn’t been done in her years at city hall – “this isn’t a big deal.”)
According to Jessop, Wittchen had licensed the dog in Surrey on Nov. 26, four days after it had been seized, and based on procedural fairness, it would be a “fundamental error” to not notify him of the hearing.
However, Harris noted Wittchen had previously attended hearings and made applications, making him aware of the intimate details contained in the case, and that at a previous hearing in July 2011, Shaw had said the dog was hers.
In the judge’s ruling, he stated the city must determine that the dog – if found – is in fact Pebbles, before euthanizing it.
Neither Shaw nor Wittchen were present for the ruling.
The day prior, a letter arrived at Peace Arch News’ office –purportedly from Wittchen – saying he had been accused of stealing Pebbles.
The letter writer denies the accusations, offering possible scenarios about the whereabouts of the dog, including that the City of White Rock “secretly put her down” or that she died of natural causes. The letter writer also states it is hard to believe the dog would be stolen because the kennel is “quite secure” with good fences and owners on-site.
The letter requested that Wittchen not be contacted, but that he wants to know what happened to Pebbles.