A dog on death-row was handed a new lease on life as a complex and sometimes strange trial came to a close in a Victoria courtroom Tuesday morning.
Bronx, the Dogo-Argentino Rottweiler cross at the centre of the life and death dispute between his human friends and the City of Victoria, was spared by Judge Adrian Brooks who found the dog did not pose an unacceptable risk to the public.
"The dog gets to live," said relieved Vancouver lawyer Rebeka Breder, who appeared in court on behalf of Bronx's original owner Rick Bonora.
"I think it's a very important decision because it will guide cities and the courts in the future on how to handle cases like this."
The city filed an application to have Bronx destroyed, citing five incidents dating back to August 2018, when Bronx — who weighs nearly 100 pounds — was labelled a dangerous dog after killing a small black poodle with a single bite.
During the proceedings, Bronx was adopted by Ken Griffiths — a man known as the Comox Valley Dog Whisperer — who claimed he could rehabilitate the dog.
Lisa Warden, appeared as an advocated on behalf of Bonora, who lives on a disability pension.
Warden said witnesses proved Bronx is a friendly and affectionate dog, albeit one with behavioural issues that need attention.
She believes the decision to let Bronx live sends a strong message to the city and its animal control agency.
"[They] are now going to have to up their game instead of engaging in top down, antagonistic policing of people with dogs — especially marginalized inner-city community dog owners who are very often targeted in a bullying way," said Warden.
Breder said Bronx's victory will now make officials think twice about spending taxpayer money to pursue an animal's destruction without first looking at other options.
"The judge explained that the city didn't do enough to try to rehabilitate Bronx ... and that animal control should do a better job in trying to save a dog's life before jumping to court," she said.
"I think it also sends a message that we — society and the legal system — need to be thinking about animals differently. Although they are technically "property," we need to consider them as live sentient beings and to try and protect and ensure that they get to live instead of just easily discarding them."