Punky the dog is dangerous, court rules

Dog sank teeth into woman’s leg at Vancouver’s Locarno Park

Punky, a four-year-old Australian cattle dog, should be put down as a danger to the public, B.C.’s Court of Appeal ruled Friday.

The decision supports earlier court rulings sealing Punky’s fate.

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“Given Punky’s past behaviour, temperament and lack of rehabilitation prospects, it was clearly open to the Provincial Court judge to conclude that the dog posed an unacceptable risk to the public and ought to be destroyed,” Justice Patrice Abrioux wrote in the unanimous Aug. 9 ruling of three judges

The decision comes after two years of legal wrangling following Punky’s charging a woman at Vancouver’s Locarno Park and sinking his teeth into her leg in August 2017

Under a provincial court judgement, Susan Leah Santics’ dog was designated as dangerous and should be euthanized, a decision the province’s Supreme Court and appeal court have upheld.

The court ruled that once the provincial court has decided a dog is likely to kill or seriously injure someone, it should be destroyed.

As a result, Abrioux wrote in the unanimous ruling of three judges, Santics’ appeal to save her pet was denied.

A B.C. Supreme Court ruling said the wounds were serious, including deep puncture wounds to the woman’s right leg and right hand, as well as other scrapes, tears, swelling and bruising.

The Supreme Court said the victim testified Santics stood by and did nothing as she was attacked.

That ruling said Santics was fined $1,500 for violating a Vancouver bylaw which prohibits a person who keeps a dog from permitting, suffering or allowing the dog to bite, attack or injure a person or domestic animal.

That fine was not appealed and Santics did not challenge the finding that Punky is a dangerous dog, the court said.

The provincial court judge found Punky had not only seriously injured the Locarno victim but had also displayed aggression and a willingness to bite since at least March 2016. Further, Abrioux said, there is evidence suggesting a strong likelihood that a similar attack will occur.
“The record amply supports these latter findings,” Abrioux said. “Multiple witnesses, including a veterinarian and Ms. Santics herself, described instances wherein Punky was violent and aggressive. Some of these instances involved biting. At the same time, there was little evidence that Punky would receive or be responsive to formal behavioural training.”

The appeal is the first such case the court of appeal has heard to address the dangerous dog provisions of the Vancouver Charter.

Reporter Jeremy Hainsworth can be contacted at jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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