Kelowna man did not cause poodle to become dangerous: judge

This photo from Shutterstock shows a poodle lying in the grass. It is not an image of the poodle from this story.

A Kelowna man has successfully appealed a $1,000 fine he was issued for "causing or permitting" his poodle to become a dangerous dog,

A B.C. Supreme Court decision, posted Friday, outlines what led up to the fine and why it was ultimately set aside.

The ticket dates back to January of 2020 when Ian Sisett had his three dogs – large poodles named Charlie, Diva, and Biscuit – off-leash at Okanagan College.

A woman passing by, the court heard, was walking her "small dog" named Spike when Sisett's dogs approached. The court was told the woman was able to chase off two of them, but not the third.

"Charlie grabbed Spike by the head and shook him, causing significant injuries including a fractured jaw that needed to be wired shut until it healed," the court decision says, noting the ensuing vet bill amounted to more than $6,000.

Justice Gary P. Weatherill found that because Charlie injured Spike and because Spike's injuries were serious, the determination that the poodle was dangerous was not wrong.

But the fact that Charlie was off-leash in an area where that was not allowed was not enough evidence to prove that Sisett had violated the bylaw, the judge found.

"Before one can 'cause or permit' a dog to become a dangerous dog, there must be a degree of active participation or control in encouraging a dog to be dangerous … or a state of indifference or acquiescence in knowing a dog has a propensity towards violence and doing nothing about it," the judgment says.

"There was no evidence … that remotely suggested Mr. Sisett knew that Charlie had any such propensity. Indeed, the evidence is to the contrary, that Charlie was a one-year-old playful puppy that liked to 'sniff' other dogs in the same manner most dogs greet each other. There is no evidence that the incident was anything other than a one-off event."

Sisett also appealed the conviction on the grounds that the judge and prosecutor were biased against him, that he was denied the opportunity to properly prepare, and that he was prevented from cross-examining witnesses.

"I find no merit to Mr. Sisett’s submissions regarding the fairness of the trial," the judge wrote.