A pair of pit bulls that attacked cattle in Pitt Meadows last week have been euthanized by the city.
The male and female dogs were put down Friday after the city’s bylaw office determined they were dangerous.
But their owner, Dave Dhuga, believes the city acted too quickly and did not give him a chance nor advise him of his right to appeal.
“I only found out I could appeal after calling the mayor on Monday,” said Dhuga, whose family is devastated by the loss of the two pets.
The pit bulls were seized by the city following a vicious attack on a cow and bull at a property off Lougheed Highway on May 8.
The dogs chased the cattle off the property and pursued them in rush-hour traffic.
The female pit bull stopped after getting hit by a car on the highway, but the male continued to hound the shorthorn heifers until they reached a cul-de-sac and darted to the safety of a backyard in the Somerset subdivision, off Park Road.
Neither dog was licensed, and the female was not spayed.
Dhuga doesn’t dispute his dogs attacked the cows, but doesn’t think they should have been killed.
He has reimbursed the man who owned the cows for vet bills, which totalled $597.
Dhuga does not know what triggered Tyson, the six-year-old male pit bull, and Tia, an 11-month-old female, to attack the cattle, which sustained bites on their snouts and neck.
Both dogs were not aggressive and were companions to his children and grandkids, he said.
During the day, Dhuga added, the dogs spent time in his blueberry fields off Old Dewdney Trunk Road and were never aggressive to his farm staff. At night, the dogs kept thieves, who’ve been stealing his farming equipment, off the property.
Dhuga claims he was never told he could ask for a review when he signed a piece of paper handing over the dogs to the city.
“Why didn’t she tell me I could appeal?” he said. “We are really sad.”
Pitt Meadows bylaw officer Leslie Elchuk however, said Dhuga was advised of an appeal.
“On Thursday, the dog owner came in and I told him the dogs would be euthanized. They are vicious dogs and I believe they are dangerous,” added Elchuk, who based her findings on interviews with witnesses to the cattle attack and their animals’ injuries.
“He didn’t say he wanted to appeal it or challenge it.”
Elchuk stresses the dogs were not euthanized because they were pit bulls.
“They were put down because of the way they attacked. The length of time the dogs kept going after them, not stopping when hit or not stopping when called.”
But HugABull, an organization which rescues and advocates for pit bulls, believes the city would not have acted so quickly if the dogs involved had been another breed.
“The minute it’s a pit bull, that’s when we see harsher enforcement and the animals are usually euthanized, without any sort of intervention or assessment or responsibility back on the owner,” said HugABull director April Fahr, owner of a pit bull named Chica.
Fahr says pit bull owners are often held to a higher standard, the dogs are portrayed as vicious and unpredictable, despite few statistics to back the claim.
A 2007 study by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association identified 28 human fatalities in Canada due to dog attacks since 1990. Only one of those was caused by a pit bull breed. Rottweilers, huskies and “unidentified breeds” were represented in larger numbers.
“It ultimately comes back to owners. If your dog is any sort of public nuisance, the onus is back on you for control, for training, for managing your dog properly. When there’s an incident, absolutely there should be consequence,” said Fahr.
“Unfortunately, whenever it’s about a pit bull, it becomes about the breed and it harms all of us responsible owners.”