Colin Kingsford takes his dog Sydney for a walk around the block almost daily but he would have never expected to have his puppy almost seized from him.
That happened on Wednesday (Feb. 7) as animal control officers – including one who grabbed the dog’s leash – said they were going to seize the pet even though Sydney was leashed at the time.
While walking Sydney around Victoria’s Craigdarroch Castle, Kingsford was approached by an animal control officer and told he was receiving an infraction for having the dog off-leash on the historical site’s grounds.
The 82-year-old immediately put Sydney back on her leash, but the officer continued to say he was issuing an infraction. Kingsford said in an interview he didn’t see any signs at the castle saying whether dogs are allowed or if they must be on leash.
The pet owner walked away, but the officer followed and asked for his personal information and dog licence. Kingsford then called police as he continued to be followed several blocks away from the castle.
By the time he and Sydney reached the corner of Pandora and Camosun streets, the pair were surrounded by multiple animal control officers. Kingsford said Sydney remained calm although the animal control officers were tugging on her leash.
“It is intimidating, these three young guys surrounding you and one of them grabs my (dog’s) leash and starts pulling on it,” said Kingsford.
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That’s when a passerby started to video the interaction, which was subsequently posted online. The video shows the animal control officer pulling on Sydney’s leash several times as Kingsford pulls back.
The video’s poster, who is heard speaking with another officer out of view, asks what bylaws the dog walker broke before the officer responds that Kingsford didn’t have the dog on a leash at the castle. When the poster concerningly asks “you’re taking his dog,” the off-screen officer responds “Yes. When they’re non-compliant like this, this is what has to happen.”
“That is super not okay, the dog is on leash right now,” poster Leda Shields is heard saying in the Instagram video.
Victoria’s Animal Responsibility Bylaw outlines how officers may seize and impound a dog if it isn’t firmly held on a leash by its owner in public areas where leashes are required. Kingsford appeared to be abiding by the bylaw when the officer told Shields they were taking the dog, seeing as Sydney was leashed at that time.
Black Press Media asked Animal Control Services about the incident and the agency said the City of Victoria would address the matter. The city said in a statement, “we have heard the community’s concern regarding the interaction between Animal Control and the resident this past week. The city will be following up with our service provider.”
At one point, the officer who was holding the leash is heard in the video saying “We have the authority to seize your dog if it’s not licenced.” Police eventually arrived and Kingsford provided them with his dog licence and personal information.
After police spoke with animal control services, they returned to Kingsford with two tickets – a warning and another fining him for having the dog off-leash. Kingsford plans to contest the fine.
“(Sydney) was on the leash and if anyone wants to dispute that, the video shows (it) very clearly,” added Kingsford.
He was shocked he was issued more than a warning.
“I’m just looking for an apology in writing.”