Dog owner William Gonzales Bodden was fined $400 Monday after pleading guilty to failing to keep his dog under control.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats imposed the fine after hearing the background to the charge, including the fact that the defendant had taken the complainant to the hospital and had paid the bill for treatment of a dog bite.
Crown counsel Neil Kumar said the incident occurred on Feb. 17 when the victim was walking home from a friend’s house. He saw a man and woman walking with two dogs that were not on leashes. The dogs looked like German Shepherds.
As they approached, one of the dogs started barking furiously, the victim related. As the dog lunged toward him, he put up his hand to protect himself and was bitten. The man with the dog did not issue any command.
Mr. Kumar said the victim told police he asked the dog owner if he was not going to control the dog and the owner kicked the dog to stop it.
The defendant said he did not know why the dog attacked because it was “highly certified and trained to be obedient.” He told the court the complainant had been at a yard where ganja was smoked and the dog had been a law enforcement dog who probably smelled ganja. The magistrate told him, “It doesn’t matter what the person was doing. It’s your duty to keep [the dog] under control.” Bodden said he had the dog for about five years; it was very obedient and he did not think it needed to be on a leash.
“You’re basically telling me you’ve ignored the law for five years?” the magistrate asked. “It’s not up to you to decide if your dogs are safe or not. You’re supposed to have them on a leash in public.”
The defendant agreed.
He also told the court that he had phoned 911 when the incident occurred and he was told no ambulance was available.
“I took him to the hospital and paid the bill that night for his treatment,” Bodden told the court.
Mr. Kumar advised that the Crown was not asking for the dog to be destroyed.
The magistrate pointed out that he could order the animal’s destruction.
“Regardless of how much training they have, they are just wild animals – no one knows what’s going on in their brain, if I can call it that” he said. That is why there were rules for owning animals, he added.
Bodden said he had been walking his dogs on a leash since the incident.
“This isn’t just about you. It’s sending a message to the public and all dog owners,” the magistrate told him.
He said Bodden’s true character was shown in what he had done afterward – taking the man to hospital and paying the bill. He thought the embarrassment of being in court was punishment for a man with no previous convictions. Noting the defendant’s responsible actions, he imposed a fine of $400.