A Montreal dog owner and her lawyer say her three dogs are not aggressive and don't need to be euthanized, something the man who was attacked by at least one of them contests.

Mario Minucci says he was attacked by the three Labrador retrievers in the spring so severely he said he was left with blood dripping down his face.

The dogs' owner, Gulnara Jacome-Munoz, disputes the severity of his injuries and was shocked when she received three notices from the city on July 25 telling her to euthanize her dogs within 48 hours and provide proof that it was done within 72 hours.

Euthanasia notices are sent to dog owners after a behavioural assessment by a city expert determines the animal is a danger to the public. 

'These are not objects that we can just throw away.' - Dog owner Gulnara Jacome-Munoz

"This is actually really hard because they are members of my family," Jacome-Munoz told CBC News.

"These are not objects that we can just throw away."

She filed an injunction the day after receiving the notices to try to stop the city from taking the dogs away or forcing her to put them down herself.

Victim says he's scared of all dogs now

Mario Minucci told CBC he was walking in Félix-Leclerc Park in Montreal's east end and saw the three Labradors become agitated when they were about five metres away from him.

He said they started running towards him and knocked over their dog walker. 

"One jumped on my arm, bit me twice, one jumped on my face, and the other on my left arm," Minucci said.

He said the dog walker asked him if he was OK after the incident, as blood dripped down his face.

'For two months I kept seeing those damn dogs jumping in my face. I'd wake up in the night and not be able to fall back asleep.' - Mario Minucci

He said someone in the park called 911 for him and the dog walker left. Then Minucci was taken to hospital and got vaccines, including a series of tetanus shots which required him to return to the hospital every week for three weeks. 

"My arm hurt so much, I didn't drive my car, it was hard to walk, eat," he said.

Minucci said he was traumatized and is still scared of dogs, both big and small.

"For two months I kept seeing those damn dogs jumping in my face. I'd wake up in the night and not be able to fall back asleep," he said.

Anne-France Goldwater, the lawyer representing Jacome-Munoz, said she'll be arguing the dogs are not a threat to the public, and questions Minucci's version of what happened.

"There was no need for any medical intervention, there was no need for stitches, there was no indication he was bleeding," she said, adding that she has not been provided Minucci's hospital records, or that she has received any indication such records exist.

"People tell different stories, that's why we have court hearings. That's why we have something called due process," she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Goldwater, who took on the case pro bono, said the dog walker had the three dogs on harnesses in the park and tripped on one of their leashes. She said it was then that the dogs became startled and ran forward into Minucci, who was approaching. 

Canada Reads 2012

Anne-France Goldwater is a Montreal lawyer who is representing Gulnara Jacome-Munoz and her dogs pro bono.

'Kill your dog'

After the incident, Jacome-Munoz received a letter from the city in May telling her the three dogs would need to be muzzled when outdoors.

She complied, and walked them individually to ensure they were less excitable.

The city also said it would carry out a behavioural evaluation of the trio, which took place in June. 

According to city spokesperson Gabrielle Fontaine-Giroux, the people who do the evaluations are vets designated by the city, or a competent person designated by a city vet. Each borough is expected to chose its own experts according to this criteria.

Jacome-Munoz said she never received results of the evaluation, but in July she got the notices demanding the dogs be euthanized.

Jacome-Munoz said the ordeal has greatly impacted her personal and professional life.

"Imagine, you could get a notice that says, 'Kill your dog' and unless you have the money to go to a lawyer … your dog will be killed," Goldwater said.

'We have to do something'

Jacome-Munoz said she's had the three-and-a-half-year-old Labradors their whole lives. One dog belongs to her mother and father-in-law but stays with her.

She is most upset about the fact that she felt there was no way to contest the decision by the city once they had sent her the euthanasia notices.

"I know this situation is actually happening with other people in Montreal," Jacome-Munoz said.

"We have to do something to make the city understand that these are family members," she added.

The city would not comment on the case because of the injunction. City spokesperson Fontaine-Giroux referred CBC to the city's rules on animal control instead.

Article 31 states that the owner of a dog that has bitten a person, or bitten an animal and caused a laceration, needs to contact the city within 72 hours.

The dog owner must also:

  • Keep the dog muzzled when it's outdoors.
  • Comply with any written notices from the city.
  • Bring it to a place indicated by the city for an evaluation.

Article 32 states that any dog declared dangerous to the public by a competent authority will need to be euthanized.

Jacome-Munoz said she isn't sure when the next legal step will take place as she tries to save her dogs. 

According to Minucci, euthanasia may be the best option if the dogs are truly dangerous.

He worries that a smaller person, like a woman or a child, would've fared worse than he did. 

"If I'd have fallen down it would have been another story — because the dogs were really enraged. Not one, not two, all three," Minucci said.

with files from Sara King-Abadi, Laura Marchand and CBC Montreal's Daybreak