Pitt Meadows strata fining family over tall dog

Bernie and Jordan Watts plan to keep Chewy.

Bernie and Jordan Watts plan to keep Chewy.

On the phone, it’s clear how much Chewy means to Bernie Watts. Through sobs and pauses she explains how the mutt has helped her and her husband get through the aftermath of deaths in the family and of how Chewy has helped the couple get out of the house and meet more people.

“He’s changed our lives so drastically,” she says.

But Chewy has grown too large for their townhouse on Ford Road in Pitt Meadows.

The boxer-Boston terrier-bulldog-beagle-mix has outgrown the 35-centimetre limit allowed by the complex’s bylaw and, as a result, the strata council says the dog has to go.

“It’s been pretty bad,” she says.

Unfortunately for Bernie and her husband, Jordan Watts, Chewy followed the boxer side in his lineage and grew taller than the limit and has now reached a height of about 48 cm.

Watts got a letter from the strata council in April, warning her that her dog was over height.

“Now, they’re threatening us with $600 fines a month. If we don’t [move], we have to get rid of him by June 30.”

Watts says Chewy’s appearance is drawing attention to him. While he won’t win any beauty contests, he’s friends with everyone. When a stranger enters the townhouse, he ambles down the stairs for a sniff, then within moments is lying down at the stranger’s feet.

When Jordan takes him for a walk, kids flock to him and recognize his amber-striped appearance. Chewy is gentle enough that Bernie even brings him to work.

Chewy (his full name is Chewbarka), was adopted late last year from a dog rescue society in Vancouver called Bully Buddies.

The couple had DNA tests done on the dog, confirming the American bulldog component, though that’s not one of the three breeds of bull terriers that Wikipedia considers to be a pit bull.

“We feel we’re being targeted because Chewy looks like a pit bull even though he’s not.”

But she also questions the legality of the strata bylaw, pointing out it doesn’t spell out if the 35-cm height limit refers to fully grown dogs. She also wonders about her two cats, Marlie and Buddy. The bylaw says a family can have either two cats or a dog.

Bernie points out the strata council also forced another resident to get rid of a cat because it was roaming outside too often. “Their kids are devastated.”

While Chewy has helped out the couple, who say they’re getting counselling because of the stress about their dog, they’re also sticking with their four-legged friend. The couple is giving up their home rather than give up their dog and are moving. They don’t know where, yet.

“But we can’t do it in 30 days.”