Owner of dogs that allegedly attacked people in Saint John will mount defence

·3 min read
Michael Edmond Kirby, 58, was charged with four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm after his dogs, Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog mixes, allegedly attacked four people in 2018. (Brian Chisholm/CBC - image credit)
Michael Edmond Kirby, 58, was charged with four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm after his dogs, Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog mixes, allegedly attacked four people in 2018. (Brian Chisholm/CBC - image credit)

A Saint John man whose dogs allegedly attacked several people on the lower west side in 2018 will mount a defence in the case against him.

Defence lawyer Charles Bryant told the court that he expects to call at least one witness, but didn't say whether that would be his client, Michael Edmond Kirby, 58.

"I anticipate one, but we're still evaluating that," Bryant said.

Kirby, who is originally from Ontario, is on trial on four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and one of failing to abide by a court undertaking to keep his dogs on leash and muzzled when in public.

Justice Arthur Doyle, who is presiding over the case, asked both sides to return to court on Sept. 1 to set a firm date to resume the trial. Lawyers for both sides agreed that three more days would be required.

Numerous attacks alleged

In March, the court heard allegations that Kirby's dogs attacked six people between June and December 2018. Most of his dogs were described as Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog mixes.

According to the American Kennel Club's website, the Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog "requires firm guidance and early socialization, as they can be independent, territorial, and protective."

The first complainant in the case testified he was attacked by several dogs on his way from the port, where he worked, to the Tim Hortons on King Street West on Aug. 22, 2018. He said the dogs formed a semi-circle around him and bit his legs as he ran and climbed to a safe place on a transport truck parked nearby.

He said he couldn't be sure but thought six dogs were involved.

American Kennel Club
American Kennel Club

A police officer testified about witnessing the next attack at a King Street West Tim Hortons on Sept. 2. He said he saw Kirby approach with three dogs on leashes. Kirby tied them to a sign post across the street and went into the restaurant.

One of the dogs got loose and bit a man in the leg.

The officer said he suggested that Kirby get muzzles for his dogs but Kirby seemed indifferent to the suggestion.

The officer testified he told Kirby it could have been a child who had come through the parking lot. He said Kirby dismissed that as a "what if."

But soon it was a child. On Dec. 12, a 14-year-old boy was attacked by two dogs while on his way to catch the bus to go to school. A bystander managed to scare the dogs off — albeit briefly.

The dogs returned to attack both of them before other people arrived to help.

That attack came within minutes of another involving a pedestrian nearby.

Kept a gun hand — just in case

The lead investigator in the case testified in March that Kirby always kept a gun handy in his apartment in case one of his dogs turned on him. She said Kirby told her that he shot one of his dogs in 2015.

Kirby was arrested by police after the Dec. 12, 2018, incidents, and by the time the dogs were removed from his home two days later, one of them was dead and "looked like it was chewed on," according to the testimony of a police officer who was part of a 12-person team assembled to seize the dogs.

The other five dogs were euthanized, the court heard.

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