After a month of waiting due to the recent byelection, Katherine Spong and Ray Newman took the fight to get their dog Lily back directly to Prince Rupert city council on Nov. 25.
The couple was told at the end of September that they were prohibited from having four dogs in the house by Prince Rupert city bylaws. Although they were willing to pay for a kennel licence, they were denied the application and told Lily had to go. Since that time, Newman told council the condition of their Karelian Bear Dog has drastically deteriorated.
“She’s shutting down. She’s dying actually. She doesn’t move around any more, she doesn’t run any more. The light is gone, it’s not the same dog … the only thing sustaining us through this is the overwhelming support and outpouring of care for Lily,” he said, noting the vet put Lily on medication that is the equivalent to prozac.
“We will do whatever it takes to keep them together, even if it means living apart, which is something we have done to keep the family together … we have no problem paying whatever it takes to bring our family back together.”
While the bylaw is what caused the couple to be separated from Lily originally, Spong said she did not want to see it weakened to accommodate them.
“We’re not looking to have the bylaw changed, if anything it needs more teeth. What we are asking for is a timed exemption until our oldest gentleman’s time is up,” she said, referring to the couple’s eight-year-old Newfoundlander.
Although the couple said the dog was taken after a phone call that was part of “a malicious act” by a neighbour that they have had an ongoing dispute with, nearby neighbour Ross Wheadon said nobody called the bylaw enforcement officer about the additional dog. He did, however, call the city when one of the dogs was tied up and blocking access to a lane believed to be public property.
“I don’t care how many animals they have as long as they keep them on their property … I called to get access to my lane, and the removal of the dog had nothing to do with me,” he said.
“They’re using neighbours to garner sympathy for their cause.”
With reaction to the request mixed, with Coun. Judy Carlick-Pearson showing support to a case-by-case review of animal bylaws and Coun. Anna Ashley and Gina Garon saying rules need to be enforced uniformly, council has asked staff to report back on options in relation to the couple’s presentation and request.