A homeless woman is heartbroken after she says the City of Surrey wrongly euthanized her dog.
“His blood is on their hands, and it’s never, ever, ever going to wash off,” 22-year-old Candice Lander said. “Somebody needs to pay for what they’ve done to him.”
But the city says the dog was “very aggressive” and bylaw officers had responded to a number of attacks.
It all started on July 16th. According to Freedom of Information request documents obtained by homeless advocate Erin Schulte, bylaw officers were called down to the Strip after Lander’s three-year-old pit bull terrier, Cesar, was involved in a “dog attack.” The dog was seized.
Chaos ensued, which was highlighted by a video that made its way online recently. Many of the people in the video are shown yelling at police after they put Lander in handcuffs and took her away.
No charges were laid and Lander was later released.
Lander said she called the Surrey Animal Resource Centre the next day to pick her dog up. After the centre told her the fees were $160, Lander said she was ready to pick up her dog later that day. Lander then says she got a phone call a half hour later from the centre, saying that they couldn’t release Cesar, and that she would have to get the dog back by contacting the bylaw department.
On Aug. 1st, she went down to the shelter to visit Cesar for the first time since he had been seized – it was his third birthday. Lander said when she got to the shelter, she learned that Cesar had been euthanized.
She says she had not been notified about the dog’s death.
“I was on the ground for 40 minutes crying, asking, ‘Why did you do this to my boy?’” Lander said, her emotions getting the best of her.
“I couldn’t save him and I couldn’t protect him. It’s a horrible feeling.”
Lander claims Cesar was not violent.
“He didn’t bite anybody,” she said. “He was scared s***less, he had his tail tucked between his legs when he was being taken away. He was so scared. he probably sat there scared for the last week and a half, wondering why his mom hadn’t come to pick him up.”
The City of Surrey says Cesar was previously designated a “dangerous dog.”
Bylaw Manager Jas Rehal told the Now-Leader that Lander was notified that the dog would be put down if he wasn’t muzzled and put in a six-sided enclosure.
“After an incident in which [the dog] went to attack an individual, this dog had other incidents in which it tried to attack people,” said Rehal.
He said the city provided a leash and muzzle, which Rehal claims was not used.
“There were a number of attacks and the dog was very aggressive… The dog was very violent to people at the Strip.”
Documentation regarding a specific attack by Cesar has not been made public at this time. One email in the FOI’s obtained by Schulte shows that a bylaw officer witnessed and reported an “attempted bite.”
Schulte, who has spent the last four years working in the area with the Pop Up Soup Kitchen, says Cesar’s presence was never an issue on the strip.
“If Cesar was a dangerous dog, he wouldn’t have been here on the street. The homeless here wouldn’t have tolerated it,” Schulte said.
“If he was this dangerous, horrible dog, people would have been cheering [for him to be taken away]. If you watch the video, they were screaming at the cops in anger.”