By Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A judge has ordered a pit bull-type dog named ‘Kujo’ to be put down after it seriously injured two people in Port Coquitlam in just over a year.
Kujo is owned by Sharon Bennett, who is homeless, and the city’s animal control service claims the dog frequently roams and is uncontrolled.
“I have no choice but to make an order for the destruction of Kujo,” stated provincial judge Wilson Lee in a Jan. 27 decision. “The past actions of Kujo are that he has bitten two different people, causing serious injuries. I find that this is a strong indicator of the likelihood of his future actions.”
Kujo has been officially declared a dangerous dog, which is defined in Port Coquitlam bylaws as one which has killed or seriously injured a person or another domestic animal.
A Port Coquitlam animal control officer testified that she believed Kujo is a public safety risk, has a history of biting and his owners have not made any attempt to control him.
Animal control officers and owners may come to an agreement to control a dangerous dog to avoid killing it. In this case, however, the officer said Bennett was “unwilling” to control Kujo.
Bennett allegedly refused to surrender him after he bit a kennel worker, and said it would not be possible to leash him because she was homeless.
Another man who is also homeless, Todd Leduc, commonly cares for the dog and was named as a secondary owner.
The officer claimed Kujo had been impounded 22 times, and bit four people. The judge dismissed some of this evidence as hearsay, but did accept that the dog was a frequent problem for the service.
A lawyer representing Bennett, who was not at the hearing, claimed Kujo only bites when kennelled.
Kujo has been impounded by the city since Sept. 15, 2021, and has since bitten two kennel workers.
On Sept. 16, Countryside Kennels employee Alia Stachoski was attending to the impounded dogs at the facility when she was attacked.
She stood outside Kujo’s kennel for several minutes to make sure he was not acting aggressively, and then entered with a leash to take him for a walk.
When she turned her back to close the gate, Kujo lunged at her repeatedly, biting her left hand, right arm, and foot. Submitted photos of her injuries showed puncture wounds to these areas.
Stachoski was sent to hospital and received stitches to her arm and a tetanus shot.
She testified she had numbness in her wrist for a month-and-a-half after the attack, bruising for several months, and she still has scars.
While still employed at the facility, Stachoski said she no longer works with dogs. She said she has developed anxiety around dogs, even ones she is familiar with.
The judge described the images of Stachoski’s injuries “especially disturbing.”
On Aug. 12, 2022, a shelter attendee, Darraugh Evans, took Kujo out to the facility’s courtyard when she was attacked.
Kujo suddenly started making her feel unsafe, and when she got up to leave, Kujo bit her.
Evans was sent to hospital with three puncture wounds on her arm and hand, soft tissue damage and a swollen wrist, and received a treatment of antibiotics.
The judge found that putting down Kujo was the only option as both Bennett and Leduc do not have homes where the dog could be secured.
“An owner’s capacity to control the dog is relevant to the likelihood of the dog killing or causing injury in the future,” the judge stated. “What is clear is that Kujo has bitten two persons almost a year apart.”
While the judge agreed with Bennett’s lawyers there is no evidence of Kujo acting aggressively while at large, the possibility cannot be ruled out, and protecting the public is of primary importance.
The ruling states this protection extends to the animal control officers and kennel workers who are doing their jobs.