THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay woman has failed in a bid to recover two dogs that were removed from her home because of a history of aggressive behaviour.
The decision on her appeal was announced Friday by Ontario's Health Services Appeal and Review Board.
In February, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit ordered the woman to surrender a dog described by bite victims as a mastiff/boxer-type and a dog described by victims as a pitbull-type.
The animals were confirmed to have been involved in two biting incidents in December 2020 and January 2021, and were the subject of investigations into two other biting incidents in January.
One of the victims required extensive reconstructive surgery to repair bite wounds.
The dogs had been involved earlier in three other reported and recorded incidents of aggressive behaviour.
After an investigation, a TBDHU public health inspector ordered their surrender to City of Thunder Bay Animal Services on the grounds that they constituted a serious health hazard to the community.
At a hearing in March, the Health Services and Appeal Board considered the owner's request to rescind the order.
The woman did not dispute the evidence of the biting incidents, but told the board her pets are well-behaved and are not a health hazard when they are with her.
She contended that the incidents happened while she was incarcerated and unable to care for them.
The woman asked that they be returned to her on the condition that she agreed to give them up if she were incarcerated again or otherwise unable to look after them for a period of time.
However, the appeal board noted that she had been unable to control the dogs over a protracted period of time, starting in May 2020 when the first of a series of complaints was made, followed by complaints about aggressive behaviour in September and November.
These incidents occurred on other people's property.
The owner received a ticket for allowing a dog to run at large after the last case, but this was followed by four biting incidents over the following two months.
Based on the history of what it described as the dogs "aberrant aggressive behaviour," the panel upheld the TBDHU order for their surrender.
A spokesperson for Thunder Bay Animal Services said Tuesday the animals remain in its care, but their ultimate fate is in the hands of the health unit.
A TBDHU representative told TBNewswatch no decision has been made yet.
"The preferred option is to separate the dogs, rehabilitate them and re-home them outside of our district, but that will depend on a number of factors," he said, adding that "Every situation is different and in each case options will be thoroughly explored before any final decision is made."
NOTE: This story has been updated to include new information provided Wednesday by the TBDHU