Deadly attack on senior citizens costs Calgary dog ​​owner $18,000

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Calling it the worst case of its kind, a Calgary judge on Monday ordered a city dog ​​owner to pay $18,000 in fines and surcharges after his dogs killed an elderly citizen two years ago.

Judge Gord Wong also banned Denis Bagaric from owning pets for the next 15 years, saying it could have been longer if the city had asked him to.

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“It doesn’t get any worse than what happened here,” Wong said, finding a message needed to be sent to dog owners about the danger of letting them loose and allowing them to attack people, as was the case with the fatal one. June 5, 2022, assault on Betty Ann (Rusty) Williams.

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Bagaric earlier pleaded guilty to two charges – allowing an animal to attack a person causing serious injury and allowing the three American Staffordshires to run at large – under the Responsible Pet Ownership Regulations.

Defense lawyer Rabie Ahmed argued that banning Bagaric from owning pets would simply be punitive and unnecessary for his client, whom he called a responsible dog owner.

But Wong disagreed both with the suggestion that the ban was just additional punishment and that Bagaric was a responsible owner.

“The law is clear that general deterrence and denunciation are of particular importance,” said the Calgary Justice Court judge.

“A ban on owning an animal can contribute to overall deterrence and is not merely punitive.”

Prosecutor Ben Leung asked for a ban of 10 to 15 years, arguing that if Wong found that all three of Bagaric’s dogs were involved in the attack, the longer period was justified.

But Wong said whether it was just one dog or all three, the 15-year ban was justified.

“The defense suggests that the accused is a responsible pet owner. I don’t agree with that,” Wong said.

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“All three (of Bagaric’s dogs) are a danger to the community.”

Wong noted a neighbor’s evidence showed all three dogs surrounded Williams, 86, and bit her during the attack in a driveway behind 1516 21st Ave. NW, after the animals escaped from Bagaric’s fenced and closed yard.

“When a person tried to come to Ms Williams’ aid, two of these dogs confronted her, forcing her to retreat,” he said.

The judge said Bagaric, who is still fighting a city request to euthanize the two remaining dogs, allegedly knew all three were a danger from the start.

“To take no action to have all three euthanized immediately is irresponsible,” Wong said.

Wong accepted a joint submission from Leung and Ahmed for fines totaling $15,000 and added a 20 percent victim surcharge, bringing the total to $18,000.

Leung asked the judge to order the two remaining dogs euthanized under the Dangerous Dogs Act (Bagaric agreed to the destruction of one of the animals in February), but Wong said he would leave that to another court.

A date will be set next week for a hearing to surrender the animals.

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