Skip to content

North Van family sues district after fatal dog fight

Lynn Valley family says district wrong to label dog 'aggressive'
A Lynn Valley family is taking the District of North Vancouver to court after the municipality labelled their dog as 'aggressive' following a fatal fracas with a smaller dog

A Lynn Valley family is taking the District of North Vancouver to court, arguing their dog has been unfairly labelled as dangerous by the district after it killed a Yorkshire terrier on their townhouse property.

The incident happened on Sept. 3, 2020, according to court documents, when a tenant in the Frederick Road townhouse let Kacey, an eight-year-old Australian cattle dog, out to greet her owner Diane Sato and a friend as they got home from work.

While they were under the carport, two smaller off-leash dogs approached aggressively, the court documents state.

“While I was standing over Kacey with her between my legs, two unattended small dogs ran from behind the vehicle into the carport. I heard the other two dogs growling. It startled myself and Kacey. She suddenly bolted into the house. I looked down to find Jems, a small Yorkshire terrier laying on the ground at my feet, not moving. There were no owners around,” an affidavit from Sato’s friend Meenpal Wilson states.

Sato found Jems’ owner at home then drove them both to Mountainside Animal Hospital where a vet confirmed Jems had died. Although they did not do a detailed examination, the vet told district staff the Yorkie suffered severe throat damage and attributed the death to injury from a dog bite.

On Nov. 3, the family received a letter stating Kacey had been deemed an aggressive dog by animal control officers. Dogs labelled aggressive by the district must be muzzled and leashed any time they leave their owners’ property, according to the letter. They must also be confined to their own property, either indoors or in an enclosed pen that prevents the dog from getting out or anyone else from getting in, and the pen must have a sign warning of an aggressive dog. The owners must also take out a $1-million liability insurance policy and pay for a special “aggressive dog” licence.

In a petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Sato’s son Tache is seeking a court order setting aside the district’s decision to label Kacey as dangerous as well as a refund for the cost of the aggressive dog licence.

The definition of “aggressive dog” under the district’s bylaw, is “Any dog which has, without provocation, attacked, bitten, or harassed or pursued in a hostile fashion a person or domestic animal,” he notes.

Because Kacey was provoked while on her own strata lot, Tache Sato argues she does not meet that definition.

“By doing so, the arbitrator made a substantive error and its decision is incorrect. Kacey does not meet the description of being aggressive as she was provoked. There is no evidence or testimony that supports Kacey being unprovoked,” his petition states.

Additionally, Kacey has never shown any aggression to other people or pets, including their household cat, they argue in their affidavit.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

The District of North Vancouver declined to comment on the matter while it is still before the courts.