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Judge reserves decision of the fate of two dogs in fatal Calgary attack

The three dogs seized by City of Calgary animal control following a fatal June 5, 2022, attack on a senior in northwest Calgary. (Facebook/Denis Bagaric) The three dogs seized by City of Calgary animal control following a fatal June 5, 2022, attack on a senior in northwest Calgary. (Facebook/Denis Bagaric)
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A hearing held in a Calgary courtroom on Tuesday, saw arguments from a lawyer representing the city of Calgary and a defence lawyer for Denis Bagaric, who is the owner of two dogs that were present for a fatal attack against an elderly woman in 2022.

A third dog, said to have led the attack on Betty Ann Williams, 86, was euthanized by the city in February.

Bagaric is fighting to keep the other two dogs alive.

On Tuesday, city lawyer Ed Ring called on witness Nicola Opsal, the neighbour across from Williams' home, who called 911.

She was asked to recall what happened that day, but admitted she never saw any of the dogs "attack" or "make contact" with Williams, rather she heard "growls" and the three dogs circling Williams' body.

Opsal recounted that the first time she became aware of the dogs in the alley, she got up off her deck and looked down the side of her garage, where she recalls seeing the dogs and a what she thought was a child.

She looked a second time and saw a "head" and then the third time she went to the alley armed with a rake for "protection."

The fourth time she called 911 and realized that her neighbour had suffered severe injuries.

Williams body had multiple lacerations, abrasions to the head and neck with severe injuries to her jugular vein, a broken neck and lacerations on her legs and wrist all consistent with a dog attack.

In May, Bagaric was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and banned from owning any pets, including dogs, for 15 years.

The judge also imposed a $3,000 victim surcharge against Bagaric.

Benedict Leung, the Crown prosecutor representing the City of Calgary, argues all three dogs were involved in the attack, pointing to evidence of blood found on each of their chests and muzzles.

On Tuesday, the fate of the two remaining dogs, currently in custody with the city was argued.

The city's lawyer says its application to the court is seeking to label the dogs as dangerous and have them destroyed, because under the bylaw - Bagaric would be unable to keep them under proper control, after he was handed a 15-year prohibition of owning pets.

Bagaric's lawyers poked holes in Opsal's testimony, suggesting she is not a credible witness as she did not witness the attack or see the dogs attempt to bite Williams.

Bagaric's lawyer would like the dogs to be properly cared for by the owner, by having Bagaric put them up for adoption, taken to a shelter or leave them with the city.

The judge reserved his decision to evaluate all the evidence, with a decision expected June 13.

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