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Death row dog gets community support
A Lake Country family's campaign to save their death row dog is gaining support, and their beloved pet is now being cast in the public eye as an unlikely victim.
The perception tilting case played out in a Kelowna courtroom this week. In particular, it dealt with the regional district's request to euthanize Jennifer and Peter Madsen's malamute, Shadow. It had been taken into the regional district's custody over a year ago, following an egregious attack on a local woman.
Officials contend that Shadow, which was then 13 months old, had approached a woman and her leashed dog during their walk, and viciously attacked. It left the woman's leg ripped apart, with multiple gashes that took months to heal.
The Madsens and several witnesses to the injury causing episode, however, believe Shadow may have been unleashed and inappropriately near the woman—after burrowing under their fence to freedom— but it wasn't the aggressor.
In fact, they say the woman's German Shepherd Bella was sent into a frenzy when Shadow approached, and may have bitten its owner.
It's been a point of view that's largely fell on deaf ears in the months that have passed, but this week the Madsens offered a compelling defence in court that caught the attention of CHBC news cameras and, in turn, the public.
Along with Gary Gibson, a renowned dog assessor from the Lower Mainland with 30 years experience, cameras caught Shadow behaving as a subservient puppy, with no aggressive qualities.
"He had his hands in her mouth, and was pulling at her, and … nothing," said Jennifer Madsen, noting she's been inundated with community support since the footage aired.
It's a nice change of pace, considering Madsen has contended all along that Shadow is a friendly dog.
"I had her at show-and-tell at an elementary school on Friday, then they seized her on Monday," she said.
The friendly characterization of the dog that's far from new to the regional district. They've had contrary viewpoints to theirs since day one, said Madsen, however they chose to ignore it.
"They had their minds made up when they heard the woman walking Bella's story," said Madsen.
"Nobody is contesting that Shadow was at large, or that the wound was grievous, we're just saying Shadow didn't do it. They're aware of that. They've disregardered witness and police statements.
It's meant that Shadow has been in a five-by-ten cell for the last 15 months, with nothing more than two 15 minute breaks per day.
Now, Madsen said, it's time for Shadow to come home. The court case went on hold as of Wednesday and won't likely resume until November.
But at month's end, the Madsens will be before a judge again to regain custody of their pet.
"We have a strong legal argument because the court case was held over," she said. " It's a step in the right direction, but we've been fighting for this for 15 months. Even our court case is going well. We've not yet presented our case, and we're winning based on their own evidence."
As they move forward, however, the Madsens want to offer an outlet for community support, so they're erecting a Facebook page within the next few days.
Shadow vs. the RDCO should be up and running shortly, and there people can offer support, she said.
For the regional district's part, they've not backed down from their assessment of Shadow. It's the third case they've dealt with in court, as dog owners disagree with assessments.