Dog discrimination claim dismissed by B.C. tribunal in condo dispute about barking

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      Dog owner Jia Wu believes that she was fined inappropriately by her strata corporation.

      Wu has paid $300 for violating the condo development’s noise bylaw on account of her dog’s excessive barking while she is away at work.

      Wu also owes $200 more, which she has not paid.

      Wu believes that it isn’t fair to punish her because barking is normal for dogs.

      She brought this same argument to the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal, as she sought a refund and reversal of the unpaid fines.

      However, tribunal member Kate Campbell found no basis for her claim.

      In her reasons for decision, Campbell related that Wu argued that her dog’s barking is “transient defensive barking”.

      According to Wu, barking occurred during “work hours”, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

      “The owner says the strata council’s decision to impose a fine for barking ‘effectively discriminates against a basic behaviour of dogs’”.

      But Campbell couldn’t find anything in the books about discrimination against dogs.

      “There is no common law principle or statutory rule prohibiting discrimination against dogs,” Campbell wrote. “Provincial and federal human rights legislation applies only to humans.”

      Campbell also noted that Wu argued that “since the strata permits dogs, it must permit their behaviours, including barking”.

      “I do not agree,” Campbell wrote. “While occasional barking would not likely be considered a nuisance or disturbance…I find that the evidence before me establishes that the owner’s dog engaged in ongoing and repeated barking.”

      Campbell noted that evidence submitted to her included audio recordings.

      Campbell related that one email from two owners on December 27, 2017 indicated that that the dog had been “barking and howling a good part of the time, for approximately the past year”.

      In another email on June 11, 2018, two other owners “wrote that the dog barked incessantly if left alone, and had been barking for 2.5 hours that day”.

      “The email said the dog barking prevented the quiet enjoyment of their home,” Campbell related.

      Another owner wrote on June 25, 2018 that she was “tired of the barking dog, which barked ‘incessantly’ the minute it heard a noise in the hall”.

      According to Campbell, the animal’s owner “submitted that she knew from video surveillance that her dog sleeps most of the time she is away and did not bark constantly throughout the day”.

      However, Wu “did not provide this evidence”.