Three weeks ago, Tammy Potratz's miniature American Eskimo, Dio, was labelled as such after he bit a newspaper carrier. Potratz says the attack was uncharacteristic for the dog.
"Dio is a good dog," said Potratz. "I had to stick up for my dog and speak on his behalf."
Like many B.C. communities, if a dog bites someone in Dawson Creek, the dog is labelled as "vicious." The label means dogs can only go for leashed walks with a muzzle on and have to be kept indoors, or in the safety of a secured yard.
Gathering community support
To fight the conviction, Potratz rallied 16 letters of support — including one from the newspaper whose carrier was bit. People who knew the dog well said he wasn't vicious.
Potratz also got two independent assessments of Dio done. Both came back saying he was a well-mannered dog with no dangerous issues.
That was enough to convince councillor Shaely Wilbur.
"That alone to me says you're a responsible pet owner," said Wilbur "I think the owners have been very responsible in ensuring this doesn't happen again."
Animal control and dangerous dogs
B.C.'s Community Charter outlines special privileges for animal control officers if a dog is considered dangerous. For example, they can seize dogs for 21 days and apply for a provincial court order to put it down.
Aaron Avey, an animal control officer in Dawson Creek, says he deals with a number of aggressive dog incidents on a daily basis. He spoke at city council about why he labelled Dio as vicious.
"My litmus test for my decision is I have a three year-old daughter," said Avey. "Would I feel comfortable having my daughter meet this dog unmuzzled after seeing what it did?" he said.
Too much authority?
But the group Not So Dangerous Dogs of B.C. says dog control authorities have too much power.
"There's just so little room to contest these designations," says Karen Stiewe, a member of the group. "It's very unfair."
Stiewe offered advice to Potratz about how she could show local politicians that Dio was not vicious.
Dio's owner Tammy Potratz encourages other dog owners to do the same.
"As pet owners we need to be pro-active," said Potratz. "Sometimes we do need to be their voice."
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Is Dio a dangerous dog?