North Van woman ordered to cover vet bills after off-leash dog attack

A North Vancouver woman has been ordered to pay a hefty vet bill after her off-leash dog attacked a stranger’s dog on public property.

The incident happened on May 19, 2019, according to a ruling from the Civil Resolution Tribunal, when a dog named Bibi bolted from her yard and took a bite out of Muffin, who was being walked on the street.

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“I find that Bibi came onto public property and bit Muffin on the behind, without provocation. Muffin suffered one small, deep puncture wound to her perianal region,” tribunal member Julie Gibson wrote in her ruling.

Muffin’s owner took the injured pup to the Mountainside Animal Hospital to be stitched up and was billed $783.09. During a follow-up visit two days later, the vet prescribed pain meds for Muffin, resulting in another $87.65 bill.

After the incident, Muffin’s owner canvassed the neighbourhood, looking for witnesses or anyone who had “prior experience with this dog being aggressive,” the ruling noted.

Two different neighbours came forward and shared their stories of Bibi being aggressive towards dogs on public property, including one incident in which Bibi bit a Maltese. A search of District of North Vancouver records by Muffin’s owner found Bibi had been the subject of a complaint for being “at large” in 2016.

Bibi’s owner didn’t deny her dog was off-leash at the time but argued Bibi would not have attacked unprovoked, according to the written ruling.

“The respondent asserts that Bibi has no history of aggressive behaviour and that she in unaware of Bibi ever attacking other dogs unprovoked. I find this assertion is inconsistent with her evidence that Bibi would get ‘really upset’ when other dogs came onto their property,” Gibson wrote.

In her defence, Bibi’s owner submitted photos she’d collected of other off-leash dogs in “unidentified locations.”

"However, I find the respondent cannot excuse her responsibility for Bibi by demonstrating that sometimes other dogs are off leash,” Gibson wrote.

“In the circumstances, I find it was negligent to leave Bibi unleashed in the front yard, without adult supervision,” she added.

Bibi’s owner also tried to argue that Muffin’s owner should have chosen a less expensive vet, which the tribunal also rejected.

Bibi’s owner has now been given 30 days to pay $1,002.53 to cover Muffin’s vet bills, tribunal fees and pre-judgement interest.

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