B.C. strata wanted dog out because it was too tall | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. strata wanted dog out because it was too tall

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A B.C. strata that tried to evict a couple's dog from living in their condo because it was too tall, has lost a legal case after the Tribunal ruled the strata hadn't applied the bylaw evenly across the board.

The case involves a dog called Mel, who at 20 inches in height, broke the strata's bylaw regarding the maximum height a dog could be to live in the complex.

According to a May 30 B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, Mel's owners John and Olga Cragg moved into their Lower Mainland condo in the spring of 2021 and quickly garnered complaints from neighbours about Mel's height.

The strata then ordered the Craggs to get Mel officially measured by a vet indicating the dog's height at its "shoulder (withers)."

The vet measured Mel to be 20 inches in height and the information was submitted to the strata.

The strata then told the Craggs that Mel was too tall as per its bylaw, which stated a dog could be no taller than 15 inches. 

The strata said that Mel had to leave the property within 30 days or it may start imposing fines.

The Craggs held a hearing with the strata council but lost.

The couple then took the strata to the Civil Resolution Tribunal arguing that Mel wasn't too tall and the bylaw was unclear.

Much of the evidence submitted discussed how to properly measure a dog.

The Craggs said they measured Mel from the lower shoulder and the dog was under-height based on that measurement.

The Tribunal looked at the bylaw which says a dog has to be measured from its "withers" and then to the Merriam-Webster dictionary for the definition of a dog's "withers" and from what point they should be measured.

While one vet had measured Mel at 20 inches, the Craggs then got a second opinion.

"Mel has a height of 15 inches at the lower shoulder," submitted the second vet.

Unsurprisingly, the Craggs said this is the correct measurement for Mel which didn't break the bylaw.

However, the Tribunal didn't buy it.

"It does not say that Mel measured 15 inches at the withers, as required by bylaw," the Tribunal ruled. "Given that the measurement must be taken from Mel’s withers under (the) bylaw... which I have found is located at the top of the shoulders, I find the lower shoulder measurement does not assist me in determining whether Mel is under the bylaw’s height limit."

The Tribunal ruled that Mel was too tall to live in the condo and broke the strata's bylaw.

However, the Craggs submitted more evidence of other tall dogs living at the strata complex.

A photograph was submitted of Mel sitting next to other dogs that were taller.

While the Tribunal dismissed the photos because there was no evidence to confirm those dogs lived at the strata, it did put weight on emails shared between the strata and the Craggs.

Emails showed that the strata had enforced its dog height bylaw on other condo owners but also showed that it had allowed a dog to live at the complex in 2018 that was 15.9 inches in height.

"I agree that Mel is over (the) bylaw's height limit," the Tribunal. "However, in the absence of any meaningful explanation for why some over-height dogs were allowed to stay in the strata and not others, I find there are no reasonable grounds for the strata’s decision to require the Craggs to remove Mel from their strata lot."

With that, the Tribunal orders that the Craggs are entitled to keep Mel living in their condo and put the strata on the hook for $225 in fees.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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