Animal control had 'no lawful basis' to seize dogs before fatal Edmonton attack, city review finds

Flowers are placed in front of a house where an 11-year-old boy died after being attacked by two large dogs. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Flowers are placed in front of a house where an 11-year-old boy died after being attacked by two large dogs. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The City of Edmonton says animal control officers acted appropriately when investigating two previous dog attacks at the south Edmonton home where an 11-year-old boy was later killed.

"Prior to the fatality on April 1, 2024, the city had no lawful basis to remove the dogs from the home," the city said Friday in a statement to CBC News.

"A review of city processes confirms that City of Edmonton staff acted appropriately in accordance with our standard practices and in compliance with the relevant legal constraints given the nature of past complaints and reports."

Kache Grist, who lived in Osoyoos, B.C., was visiting his father in Edmonton when he was fatally attacked on April 1 by two large dogs.

Animal Control peace officers had visited the same address in Edmonton's Summerside neighbourhood twice previously this year to investigate other attacks. The child's death put the city's animal control processes under intense scrutiny.

In a statement Friday, city officials said a review investigating why the dogs were not seized from the home after the earlier attacks is now complete.

The review found no issues with how bylaw officers responded to the previous complaints, the city said.

It said all previous complaints about the dogs were investigated thoroughly and a review of city processes found that "appropriate action" was taken in accordance with all relevant legislation, including municipal bylaws.

Under city bylaws, a peace officer may seize and impound any dog alleged to have seriously injured or killed a person or animal.

Before seizing and impounding a dog, an officer must consider whether the dog was acting in self-defence or was acting out to prevent a person from committing an unlawful act.

The city said one of the previous dog attack complaints was concluded without charges and the other is still open, pending the results of an investigation by Edmonton police into Kache's death.

No charges have been laid by police.

Submitted by Kendrah Wong
Submitted by Kendrah Wong

"Fatal dog attacks are extremely rare, and this is the first known fatal attack in Edmonton in many years," the city statement reads.

"We are taking this tragic incident very seriously and are working with the Edmonton Police Service to ensure all legal options are considered to ensure public safety."

Victim in previous attack plans legal action

An Edmonton woman who alleges she was seriously injured in one of the previous attacks is planning to take legal action.

Raj Bhogal, with Edmonton-based Preszler Injury Lawyers, said his client, a woman in her 40s, suffered multiple wounds in February when she was attacked by two large dogs at the same home.

Bhogal said his client, who lives in the Edmonton area, was visiting a friend at the property when she was attacked in the backyard by two dogs believed to be Cane Corsos.

"The attack started with one dog who jumped on her and caused her to fall onto the ground," Bhogal said. "Then the second dog also began to attack. She sustained very serious injuries."

The woman was treated in hospital for a punctured lung, broken ribs and multiple lacerations that required stitches, he said.

The woman has declined to speak with CBC News.

Bhogal said multiple people were living in the home. The woman was visiting a friend who was neither the owner of the dogs or Kache's father.

He said the woman filed a complaint with the city and provided a statement to an animal control officer. The outcome of that investigation remains unclear, Bhogal said.

"She's unsure as to what was done by animal control following following her statement," he said.

"What we do know is that my client sustained very serious injuries … and those dogs were able to do it again and much worse, just a couple months later."

Bhogal said a statement of claim will be filed once the law firm has concluded its own investigation.

He said his client remains troubled by Kache's death and hopes her case helps to prevent similar attacks.

"She knows that she did everything she could as a victim to to something like this," he said. "But it's difficult for her."

Kache's father, Wesley Grist, told reporters April 7 that the dogs belonged to his roommate, and they have since been euthanized.

Grist said his son was comfortable with the pets and had often cuddled with them on the couch.

The father said he doesn't know what sparked the attack, since he was in the garage fixing a tire at the time, but he said he'd left his son alone for no longer than 10 minutes.

"My world went from being happy, loving, hugging my son, and 10 minutes later my world was completely ripped apart," he said. "My heart was crushed."

Watch: Father of boy killed in dog attack shares his grief: