Judge rules Kelowna dog owner didn't 'cause' dog to be dangerous, wipes conviction | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Judge rules Kelowna dog owner didn't 'cause' dog to be dangerous, wipes conviction

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A Kelowna man who was fined $1,000 after his dog attacked another dog has won his appeal in the B.C. Supreme Court.

Ian Royce Sisett had been found guilty of "causing or permitting" his dog 'Charlie' to become a dangerous dog after it attacked another dog while running on the Okanagan College grounds in Kelowna.

According to a May 19 B.C. Supreme Court decision, Sisett was letting his three large poodles, Charlie, Diva, and Biscuit off-leash on the field when Charlie attacked a small dog, called Spike.

"Charlie grabbed Spike by the head and shook him," the decision reads, "causing significant injuries including a fractured jaw that needed to be wired shut until it healed."

Spike's injuries cost its owner, Melanie Michaels, $6,000 in vets bills.

Sisett was later fined $1,000 after being found guilty of causing or permitting Charlie to become a dangerous dog.

However, Sisett appealed his conviction in the B.C. Supreme Court.

Justice Gary Weatherill ruled that Charlie was a dangerous dog by definition of the bylaw, but disagreed that Charlie had become dangerous because of Sisett.

"It is important to note that Mr. Sisett was not charged with failing to have his dog on a leash in a public area," the Justice said. "He has been charged with, and was convicted of, 'causing or permitting' his dog to become a dangerous dog."

However, the justice disagreed that this was the fact.

"Of critical importance to (the) offence is a requirement that Mr. Sisett either actively participated in Charlie becoming a dangerous dog, or passively failed to take steps to prevent Charlie from becoming a dangerous dog. Allowing Charlie to be off-leash when he should not have been, without more, is not active participation or acquiescing in him becoming a dangerous dog," Justice Weatherill said.

READ MORE: Why this Kamloops dog was suddenly paralyzed and how to prevent it

The Justice ruled that letting the dog off-leash on the field did not cause the dog to become dangerous.

"Before one can 'cause or permit' a dog to become a dangerous dog, there must be a degree of active participation or control in encouraging a dog to be dangerous – as for example, actively training or encouraging a dog to attack animals or persons and/or seriously injure them – or a state of indifference or acquiescence in knowing a dog has a propensity towards violence and doing nothing about it," the justice said.

The justice said there was no evidence to suggest Sisett knew Charlie would attack another dog.

"Charlie was a one-year-old playful puppy that liked to 'sniff' other dogs in the same manner most dogs greet each other. There is no evidence that the incident was anything other than a one-off event," the Justice said.

Justice Weatherill then quashed the original conviction saying Sisett had not "caused or permitted" Charlie to become dangerous.

"Allowing a dog to be off-leash in a public area, contrary to a bylaw, does not equate to causing or permitting the dog to be dangerous," he said.

READ MORE: B.C. dog breeder found guilty after 29 dogs found in abandoned vehicles

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