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Diesel: The $100,000 dog

Taxpayers in the Central Okanagan will have forked over nearly $100,000 by time a Supreme Court judge issues a ruling on Diesel.

Diesel has been locked up in the RDCO pound since March, 2011 after being declared a dangerous dog while his owner, Dave Smith, fights an order to have his dog euthanized.

RDCO Communications Director, Bruce Smith, says legal bills alone will run upwards of $75,000 or more.

"The legal costs for this case up until the end of December, 2012 was $54,000," says Smith 

"We don't have a final bill on the appeal, but we are anticipating it will be in the neighbourhood of an additional $20,000."

Besides the legal costs, Smith says the cost to keep Diesel at the pound run about $800 a month.

Over 22 months, that works out to an additional $17,600.

Smith says the Regional District is asking to recover some of those costs should it win the appeal.

"I believe part of our request to Justice Barrow was to try and recover some of the legal costs. I also believe we requested to recover some costs for Diesel's care and impound dating back to the provincial court ruling in August last year," says Smith.

A Provincial Court Judge declared Diesel a dangerous dog back in August. Dave Smith appealed that decision to the BC Supreme Court.

The appeal was heard earlier this week with a decision expected sometime next month.

The responsibility of dealing with and prosecuting cases such as these were downloaded from the province to local governments in 2009.

Before then, Crown prosecutors handled the cases.

"In 2008 our legal fees were $3,500 and they climbed to $64,000 in 2011," says Smith.

"At that time there was one case that required the regional district to incur legal fees to go through the process."

It was estimated the legal fees in 2012 were about $90,000.

Those included court costs for Shadow, a two-year-old Alaskan Malamute who was held for 15 months before a deal was reached to send him home back in July of last year.

Smith says the regional board is trying to take steps to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

"One of those is Consent Orders that we reach with dog owners to give them and their dog another chance," added Smith.

"Return the dog back to the owner under strict conditions to ensure public safety such as muzzling, short leashes and enclosures on the property."

Ultimately, he says these cases would not be necessary if owners took more steps to control their dogs.

"Our legal counsel suggested during arguments that much of this could possibly have been avoided had the dog been responsibly and securely contained on its property and securely controlled and on-leash when it was in public." 

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