A Malinois dog in Penticton attacked three people, resulting in bites with puncture wounds last year, but an expert determined the dog not to be a danger to the public if handled properly. Stock photo

Dog gets a new leash on life

Though the dog bit three people, an expert said it was largely due to a lack of exercise

A Penticton dog has gotten a new leash on life after a legal dispute between city hall and the dog’s owners came to a deal before a provincial court judge Wednesday morning.

Buddy, a Malinois owned by Cody Wharton and Leesa Moldawan, was involved in three bites last spring — two in April and one in May, all resulting in puncture wounds — and while lawyer Jarrett Plonka, representing the city, said the matter likely could have been settled before it went before a judge, it was not.

Wharton and Moldawan appeared before Judge Gregory Koturbash Wednesday morning, with the matter initially set for a two-hour trial, but instead Plonka said the parties came to a last-minute agreement.

“The significance of those bites is that in each case that each of those bites constitutes a serious injury to a person. There’s case law behind the fact that any bite that requires any kind of medical treatment, even if it’s not surgery, is still considered a serious injury,” Plonka said.

The owners did not dispute that the bite had happened, but Plonka said there was a question of what happens with the dog.

A dog expert had been prepared to testify that Buddy was not a dangerous dog, but one that required an extraordinary amount of exercise — Plonka later told the Western News it would need at least a walk a day on leas hand one walk off leash, while the owners only took the dog out a couple of times per week.

“Buddy is simply severely under-stimulated and needs far more exercise and care and training and attention than he has received here,” he said. “Our expert’s opinion is that Buddy is quite a good candidate for rehabilitation.”

The expert also believed if Buddy returned to the care of Wharton and Moldawan the dog would be “highly likely” to attack another person.

The owners agreed to an order that Buddy be kept in the custody of the City of Penticton, where he has been since May or June, for rehabilitation and passing Buddy along to a new owner.

“At least my kids won’t lock me out of the house at the end of the day,” Koturbash said. “Buddy gets to live.”


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