Homeless woman's dog seized, euthanized in Surrey, B.C.
A homeless advocate is speaking out after she says bylaw officers in Surrey, B.C. seized and euthanized a woman’s dog this summer without telling her.
Candice Lander lives on “Whalley Strip,” a destitute tent-lined stretch on Surrey’s 135A Street. The people in the area live difficult lives, but when Lander got her puppy, Cesar, the dog brought some much-needed light to her life.
“I fell in love with him, like instantly,” Lander told CTV Vancouver.
Bylaw officers, however, seized Cesar in July, alleging that he had attacked another dog near Lander’s tent. Lander was also arrested that day, but she was never charged.
Two weeks later, Cesar was euthanized. Lander says that she didn’t learn of her dog’s death until after the fact.
“I'd understand if it was in the best interest of the dog and to give it a better life because it's in danger or it's suffering,” she said. “But that was the farthest thing from what it was.”
Homeless advocate Erin Schulte says she never had any problems with the animal.
“He would interact with my volunteers,” she told CTV Vancouver. “We would do night services here, and we never had any issues with him.”
When Schulte filed a freedom of information request to find out what happened to the animal, the documents she received showed that Cesar was listed as a “vicious dog” even though he had never bitten anyone.
“I don't think this would have happened to me or you,” Schulte said. “If it was me or you, we would get a letter in the mail saying this is how much you're owing at this point, these are your options.”
In June, Schulte notes, a Rottweiler in Surrey was put down after it attacked a girl and the man who tried to save her. In that case, the owner agreed to have the animal euthanized.
In another case in nearby Richmond, the city had to go to court to get approval to put down a dog that had mauled a young woman.
Lander, however, never had any say regarding Cesar’s fate.
“They say they treat everyone equally,” she said. “They don't.”
Speaking to CTV Vancouver, Surrey’s bylaw manager said that they tried finding Cesar a new home after he was confiscated but that no shelters would take him.
The manager also said that Lander was given plenty of time to reclaim the dog, which would have cost her about $1,500.
“It would have been very easy to get that money together to buy her some more time if that’s what was needed,” Schulte said.
While that is no longer an option, Lander says that she’s still waiting for an apology as well as an assurance that Surrey’s most vulnerable will never be treated like this again.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Breanna Karstens-Smith