Fort McMurray dog that killed chihuahua designated as vicious animal

Wood Buffalo municipal council has upheld the vicious dog designation given to a dog that killed a chihuahua last summer.

'It was a chihuahua, but what if that was a child?'

Wood Buffalo council upheld the vicious animal designation on Kellie Brannan's dog Stanley. (PXHere/Creative Commons)

Municipal councillors in Fort McMurray have upheld a vicious animal designation for a dog that killed a chihuahua.

The case was presented to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo at a council meeting Tuesday.

Deanne Bergey, senior manager for RCMP support and bylaw services for the municipality, presented her arguments to confirm the vicious dog designation on a boxer mastiff cross named Stanley.

Bergey prefaced her presentation by saying Stanley's owner, Kellie Brannan, is a caring and conscientious owner but the public needs to be protected from her dog.

"We believe this action to declare Stanley as dangerous is necessary to protect other animals and the public," Bergey said.

In June, Stanley attacked a six-month-old chihuahua, according to a report submitted to municipal council Tuesday.

Stanley broke away from his leash and escaped through the front door of his owner's home and attacked the chihuahua, which was leashed to a door-step railing in another yard. Stanley's owner was not home at the time of the attack. 

The chihuahua died immediately from multiple puncture wounds to the neck and ears, the report said.

A peace officer told the owner in July he intended to classify the boxer mastiff cross as a vicious animal.

The classification means current and future owners must hold liability insurance worth at least $500,000 and the dog can only leave the owner's property when leashed and muzzled as per the municipality's bylaws.

Red flags raised

Before Stanley was adopted from the pound, bylaw services found intake forms that described the dog as "kennel aggressive and lunging, barking at other dogs," according to a report submitted to council.

Stanley's dog walker, who was caring for the dog during the June incident, said in a statement that Stanley would act aggressively whenever he saw people.

Stanley now on his best behaviour

Challenging the designation, Brannan told council that Stanley was timid and would cower in fear when she would raise her hand.

"All indications were that he didn't have a good life prior to living with me," Brannan said at Tuesday's council meeting. 

Brannan said her biggest concern with imposing the designation is that her dog would not be able to run free in her yard.

She plans to keep Stanley and already has the required insurance. 

Brannan said Stanley has been on his best behaviour since the incident.

"I do not believe this was a vicious attack as there were numerous interactions with other dogs and there's never been another incident," Brannan said.

In the end, council voted unanimously to support the vicious dog designation. 

"It was a chihuahua," said Coun. Phil Meagher. "But what if that was a child?"

Connect with David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca