A former Prince George man narrowly escaped being sentenced to jail time for running a dog-breeding business on a Chief Lake Road property that got out of control, with some of the animals launching a reign of terror over the neighbourhood.
Provincial court judge Randall Callan reluctantly agreed Wednesday to a joint submission from Crown and defence counsels for a four-month conditional sentence - effectively house arrest - for Kim-Canh Dinh, 39. He is also prohibited from owning animals for three years.
Dinh, who pleaded guilty to two of the charges he was facing, now lives in Surrey where he will serve the time. He was also ordered to pay more than $2,400 in restitution for veterinary bills, although it appears he's paid back most of that total.
He had been breeding Tibetan Mastiffs on his 1600-block Chief Lake Road property. The breed is highly valued, fetching prices as high as $5,000, the court was told. But Dinh had little previous experience raising dogs and the breed is large and known to be protective.
The enterprise escalated into a safety concern when three of the dogs began attacking other dogs and confronting people in the neighbourhood. Over eight months, beginning in early November 2014, police received seven complaints. When RCMP were able to get hold of Dinh, he promised to get the dogs under control, but they remained a problem.
It reached the point where one dog walker carried a baseball bat and another changed her route. Neighbours also turned to the office of Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris seeking help.
In one instance, three of the dogs attacked a small dog being walked along Chief Lake Road. The owner let go of the leash to allow her dog to defend itself and when she tried to intervene, one of the dogs went after her. The two others had got hold of her dog's throat and haunch and had a neighbour not been able to chase the attackers away, it would have been killed, the court was told.
In mid-July 2015, the SPCA and the RCMP executed a search warrant on the property.
They found three adults in a small shed where the conditions were described as deplorable. Its floor was covered in machine parts, buckets and hair, dirt and dog feces.
Four adolescent dogs and another adult running loose on the property were also seized. Two of the adolescents were in decent shape although underfed.
But the hair on all of the dogs was matted and covered in feces and urine. And one had a full-body skin infection and needed surgery to repair both eyelids, which had drawn over, and to remove a piece of wood that had become imbedded in its rear. Another also need surgery on one eye and one of the adults had to be put down due to hip dysplasia, although Dinh stressed through his lawyer that the dog had the problem when he adopted it.
The three other adults were destroyed because of their aggressiveness.
In apologizing to the court, Dinh claimed the adults had good temperaments until they had litters. They then turned into "super guard dogs," he said, but added that was no excuse for what happened.
If not for his decisions to plead guilty and apologize, Callan told Dinh he would have been sent to jail.
"What happened with these dogs and the neighbours, it certainly raises alarm bells with me," Callan said but added he's obligated to accept a joint submission if it's in the public interest.
"This one comes might close [to falling short of that standard]," Callan continued.
Dinh had pleaded guilty to one count each of failing to properly care for an animal under the Criminal Code and causing an animal to be in distress under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,