There is no evidence that an American Bully dog had previously attacked or displayed aggression toward another canine.
However, on the evening of July 22, 2019, the animal, weighing 100 pounds at the time, bit a small dog named Pepper, a Chihuahua.
The American Bully grabbed Pepper in his mouth, and didn’t let go until his jaws were forced open.
Before the incident happened, Pepper and another Chihuahua were leashed and out on a walk with their owner Dallas Prouty and the woman’s daughter outside their home in Nanaimo.
As a result, Pepper suffered multiple broken ribs, bruised and damaged lungs, and significant bruising.
These facts are undisputed and were cited by a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal in a claim filed by Prouty against Sherri-Lynn Hegglund, owner of the American Bully dog.
Tribunal member Sarah Orr rendered her reasons for decision dated May 25, 2021, which favoured the Chihuahua owner.
Orr related that Prouty stated that Hegglund “agreed to reimburse her $4,999.40 for her veterinary bills but has paid only $1,499.40”.
Prouty claimed reimbursement of the $3,500 balance.
“Ms. Hegglund says she only agreed to pay Ms. Prouty’s first veterinary bill, though she does not expressly admit liability for the incident,” Orr noted.
Hegglund also said that Pepper’s “second veterinary bill was for unnecessary veterinary services”.
Orr related that Prouty immediately drove Pepper to a veterinary hospital in Nanaimo after the incident.
The next morning, the Nanaimo hospital advised Prouty to transfer Pepper to a specialty veterinary hospital in Langford, which she did.
Pepper stayed at the Langford veterinary hospital for three nights.
“Despite paying for some of Ms. Prouty’s veterinary bills, Ms. Hegglund has not expressly admitted liability for the incident,” Orr noted.
In her reasons for decision, Orr determined that Hegglund was “liable for Pepper’s injuries”.
“I find Ms. Hegglund owed Ms. Prouty a duty of care to reasonably control her dog and prevent attacks on other animals,” Orr wrote.
The tribunal member noted that Hegglund allowed her dog “out in her backyard without checking whether the gate was open”.
The American Bully got out of Hegglund’s property through the open backgate, ran across the street, and attacked Pepper.
As a consequence, Hegglund “breached the required standard of care”.
Prouty submitted a March 11, 2021 letter from Dr. Erin Simmonds, a veterinarian who cared for Pepper at the Langford hospital.
Simmonds confirmed in the letter that “all tests, x-rays, and care Pepper received at the hospital were medically necessary”.
“I am satisfied that the veterinary care Pepper received at the Langford hospital was necessary,” Orr wrote.
This means that Hegglund must reimburse Prouty the $3,500 balance of her veterinary bills.
In addition, Hegglund is to pay Prouty $77.92 in pre-judgment interest, and $175 in tribunal fees.