Owner of the Chihuahua mix had claimed she and her dog were victims of an attack, which led to nearly $2,300 in donations through a GoFundMe campaign. A small claims tribunal has since found the woman lied about the chain of events. At fault: the unleashed Chihuahua.
A Coquitlam dog owner has lost in her bid to claim $5,000 in veterinary bills from a neighbour following a run-in between her diminutive Chihuahua mix, Remy, and a Mastiff cross, Brix.
The owner of the Chihuahua, Cara Mueller, had claimed she and her dog were victims back in January, 2020, leading to an outpouring of support and nearly $2,300 in donations through a GoFundMe campaign. But in ruling from a B.C. small claims court, held last week but released today, Mueller was found to have lied about the chain of events leading to the Jan. 3, 2020, incident.
Phyllis Devlin, who was caring for the fostered Mastiff, Brix, agreed the dogs got into an altercation after Mueller exited their Coquitlam apartment building with the intention of walking her Chihuahua over to a nearby grassy area to relieve himself.
Mueller and Devlin also agreed Remy sustained significant injuries after the Mastiff cross bit the Chihuahua, puncturing its abdomen; and that Mueller sustained wounds to her hand when she put it in Brix’s mouth to release the Chihuahua.
But after weighing the two dog owners’ testimony, along with video and witness accounts of the Jan. 3, 2020, incident, the tribunal found Remy the Chihuahua had provoked the attack, and Mueller, its owner, was at fault.
WAS THE CHIHUAHUA LEASHED?
Within days of what Chihuahua owner Cara Mueller described as an attack, the Coquitlam owner took her story to multiple media outlets in a version of events which portrayed her and her diminutive dog as the victims.
But in the ruling last week, the Civil Resolutions Tribunal vice-chair Shelley Lopez found the unleashed Chihuahua, Remy, had provoked the attack by nipping at the Mastiff’s hindquarters.
Mueller had claimed the Mastiff had been left off-leash and had attacked her dog on the grass near the two dog owners’ Coquitlam apartment. But in weighing video evidence — which captured the Chihuahua without a leash before and after the altercation — and witness testimony, the tribunal found Mueller had lied about her Chihuahua being leashed and failed to disclose she had already received $2,297 in the GoFundMe campaign.
“Even if I had found Ms. Devlin partially or wholly liable, I would not have allowed the $5,000 damages claimed,” wrote Lopez in the ruling, pointing to veterinary bills showing Mueller was charged only $3,752.52.
Lopez also noted Mueller never addressed a Feb. 27, screenshot of a GoFundMe page in evidence which shows nearly $2,300 had already been raised to help her with Remy’s veterinary bills.
Mueller argued before the tribunal that Devlin had bribed witnesses to make statements supporting her version of the events, and that other residents of the building “were all fearful of Ms. Devlin given her role as assistant manager in the parties’ residential building.” But the tribunal found Mueller’s allegations of bribery and blackmail “unlikely,” “speculative” and “unproven.”
An earlier City of Coquitlam “Folder History Report” of its investigation also found Remy was not leashed after interviewing witnesses.
WHICH DOG BIT FIRST?
The American Kennel Club describes the Mastiff bread as “colossal” canine, with heavy bones and “prodigious strength.” By comparison, the club describes the Chihuahua as “sassy” and a “tiny dog with a huge personality.”
Assessing an injury on the Mastiff, Brix, the tribunal agreed with Mueller that given their relative heights, “Remy would not likely be able to reach Brix’s right flank on the grass.”
“However,” continued Lopez, writing for the tribunal, “I find he would have been able to reach it if the two dogs were climbing stairs at different levels.”
Lopez found that the leashed Mastiff did not break free from Devlin and lunge at the Chihuahua across the grass as alleged by Mueller. Instead, Remy was found to have “nipped at Brix while both dogs were close on the stairs, which caused Brix to quickly take hold of Remy in its mouth.”
In rejecting Mueller’s version of the events, Lopez found Devlin was not negligent in her handling of the fostered Mastiff cross and that there was insufficient evidence Brix had an aggressive history toward dogs.
By letting her Chihuahua off-leash when she exited the building, Lopez found Mueller “fell below the standard expected of a dog owner” and that she is responsible for the attack.