Whitehorse shelter dog wins reprieve from euthanization

The Yukon Supreme Court has granted a reprieve to a former Whitehorse animal shelter dog that was due to be euthanized, while a local advocate pushes for the animal to be spared altogether.

The Yukon Supreme Court has granted a temporary reprieve to a former Whitehorse animal shelter dog that was due to be euthanized, while a local advocate pushes for the animal to be spared.

Justice Ron Veale agreed on Tuesday to hear an emergency application by Kevin Sinclair, who is demanding a stay of execution for Trevor, a Rottweiler-shepherd cross rescued from abuse earlier this year but now accused of biting several people.

Trevor was scheduled to be put down on Wednesday.

Sinclair's case will be heard on Aug. 6. Veale issued a temporary injunction, ordering the city not to euthanize Trevor in the meantime.

Sinclair and staff at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter have insisted that Trevor is not aggressive. Sinclair said the dog has been abused and deserves a chance to be rehabilitated.

Considered a dangerous dog

But in court Tuesday morning, the City of Whitehorse maintained that Trevor is a dangerous dog and should be put down.

Bylaw chief John Taylor said he is eager to have the court review the city's decision.

"We're happy with it," Taylor said outside court Tuesday. "I mean, let the matter play itself out in the courts, let everybody [be] heard.

"Our biggest concern is the safety issue, and that's where we stand ... and we always will stand. People have been bitten. And any owner, anybody that comes forward, [has to realize] there are many provisions to go along with owning a dangerous dog."

While city lawyers agreed to hear Sinclair's application, they cited a problem with his case: Sinclair is not the dog's owner and therefore has no standing in court to challenge the city's decision.

The animal control bylaw states that only pet owners can appeal bylaw-related issues. Trevor, they said, is now the city's property.

Described as friendly

Whitehorse bylaw officers rescued Trevor in January, after it was discovered with an undersized collar badly ingrown into its neck. Trevor was taken to the shelter, where staff and volunteers cared for it and described it as a friendly dog.

Trevor was adopted in May. Shelter staff have said the new owner signed an adoption contract promising to return the dog to the shelter if she could not care for it.

But staff say they believe the new owner gave Trevor to her brother, who in turn surrendered the animal to the city pound after it allegedly bit someone.

In fact, Trevor has bitten at least three people, said Robert Fendrick, the city's director of administrative services.

"One, for sure, is documented — we have pictures of it — which is sufficient to deem it a dangerous dog under the bylaw," Fendrick said Monday. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about that."

Independent assessment

But Sinclair plans to ask the court to order an independent assessment of Trevor and to keep the dog alive in the meantime.

"I don't believe the bite stories," Sinclair told CBC News on Monday. "I don't believe there's any documentation for them, and I think bylaw [officials are] in breach of their own bylaws.

"No one speaks up for them [dogs], you know, and it just continues on. Nobody spays or neuters their pets; they just kill the dog. I just find it appalling in the 21st century."

Officials with Humane Society Yukon, which runs the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter,  say Trevor got a raw deal when its most recent owners did not return the dog to the shelter, as they had promised to do under their adoption agreement.

The shelter wants the dog back, but city officials have said they won't allow it, citing safety concerns.

Coun. Dave Austin said he would like to see Trevor spared from euthanization, but he said council has no authority to override the bylaw department's decision.

"It's in bylaw's hands now," Austin said.

"They have a course of action that they pretty much have to follow, and it will take a court action to stop it."