Dog who pounced on Ontario city councillor is freed by court, after deal struck with owners

Thousands signed online petitions calling for Rocky’s release after October incident. Rocky the dog will be allowed to return to his owners but will have to wear a muzzle when around most people.

Rocky the dog, a 170-pound American Alsatian who attacked a St. Catharines city councillor, will be returned to his owners with a promise he will wear a muzzle and remain on leash when off his owners’ property.

Close to two dozen observers were in the room Thursday — including one brown and white dog — when a Welland, Ont., court approved a deal between the Crown and the dog’s.

The agreement will see the dog muzzled when off the property or when in the presence of most people beyond a limited list. It must also be kept in a fenced area when on the property, located on Strada Boulevard in St. Catharines, Ont.

“When any person knocks at the door at any place where the dog is, the dog must be muzzled prior to opening the door,” stated the agreement read by Justice of the Peace Patricia Lavallee in court. “Owners of the dog shall post at least two signs indicating ‘Aggressive dog lives here.’

“The sign shall be visible to clearly warn people of the dog’s presence on the property.”

Rocky’s fate became of significant interest after Coun. Joe Kushner filed a police report about the dog in early October. He said he had been bitten three times by the dog while he was door-knocking during the municipal election campaign.

The Lincoln County Humane Society (LCHS) ordered Rocky to be removed from the owners and the organization launched legal proceedings through the Dog Owners’ Liability Act in order to determine next steps.

More than 20,000 people signed two separate online petitions calling for Rocky’s release, fearing the dog would be put down.

“We are pleased to confirm that Rocky will be released to his family and will be returning to his family today,” para legal told in an email Thursday, following the hearing.

Conditions include consulting dog trainer

The conditions of the dog’s release also include:

  • Rocky be kept on a leash of no more than 1.8 metres while off the property;
  • While at home, Rocky be kept indoors or in a fenced area;
  • The fence be kept in good repair to keep the dog secure in the yard;
  • Every person entering the home or having contact with the dog shall be notified that the dog is aggressive; 
  • The Kotyks consult a certified dog trainer regarding the dog’s behaviour by Jan. 9; and 
  • Follow through with any recommendations from the trainer regarding obedience training.

“We worked closely with the Crown Attorney’s office with setting these conditions,” said. “Please note that our client originally volunteered to comply with very similar conditions back when Rocky was taken by the in October, but my client’s offer was dismissed.”

Executive director Kevin Strooband previously told that the dog had a history of attacks, including one on an 11-year-old girl, and he believed it was a danger to the public.

However, later in the hearing, Strub said it was “hard to determine whether were scratches or a puncture wound.”

In a statement he sent to the creator of one of the petitions supporting Rocky in November, which has viewed, Mark Kotyk appeared to deny the dog had attacked the councillor, saying Kushner fell on his back “well out of the reach of Rocky.”

After court on Thursday, said the dog’s owners have “never disputed the fact that Rocky jumped on the complainant and his claws caused scratches to him.”

“We did not accept facts of a dog bite in this incident.”

Petition creator says Rocky was held too long
In a statement to after the court session concluded, one of the petition creators said “there is no justifiable reason” for how long Rocky was held in the care of the humane society, a duration that spanned more than two months.

“Rocky is not now nor ever was an aggressive nor vicious dog and there is no proof of the erroneous stories which seemed to envelope this incident,” said Lynn Perrier, founder of Reform Advocates for Animal Welfare.

“It is unfortunate that municipal animal control has been given too much responsibility,” she said. “Animal shelters and pounds need to be accountable and answerable for their actions so this can not happen again to another family pet.”