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Man banned from owning animals after fatal Calgary dog attack


The owner of three Calgary dogs that got loose and mauled a woman to death in 2022 has been ordered to pay a $15,000 fine within one year and banned from owning any animal for 15 years.

Denis Bagaric hung his head as Judge Gordon Wong delivered the sentence.

“He (Bagaric) puts his own wishes over the safety of the community. He is not a responsible pet owner,” Wong said.

In February, Bagaric agreed to have one of his pets euthanized and pleaded guilty to two out of 12 bylaw charges in relation to the death of 86-year-old Betty Ann Williams.

“He holds hope the other two dogs will be returned knowing they constitute a danger to the community. To take no steps to euthanize all three immediately is irresponsible,” Wong said.

The fate of the other two dogs will be determined by another court at a later date.

On June 5, 2022, Bagaric’s American Staffordshires – Bossii, Cinnamon and Smoki – were in the backyard of his property on 21 Avenue N.W., when the dogs broke free of the fenced and gated backyard into the alley where Williams was gardening.

According to an agreed statement of facts, the animals were “not leashed or under the control of Mr. Bagaric when they broke free..”

Smoki, one of the three dogs seized, caused severe injury to Williams, so Bagaric agreed to officially sign off on euthanizing that dog. It took place immediately following the February court proceedings at the City of Calgary Animal Services shelter.

Bagaric admitted guilt to one count of an animal attacking a person causing severe injury and one count of animals running at large.

The other charges under the responsible pet ownership bylaw were withdrawn and all charges against his partner were dropped.

No criminal charges were laid against either of them.

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

Wong said in court, “whether three dogs attacked her or only one, this is as serious as it gets.”

Leung sought a $15,000 fine and a prohibition against Bagaric from owning animals for 10 to 15 years.

Defence counsel Rabie Ahmed had no issues with the fine, but disagreed with the pet ownership ban.

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

When approached outside the courtroom after sentencing, Bagaric said, “it’s a really sad situation,” and his lawyers advised him not to talk to media.

The fate of the other two dogs will be determined by another judge. The city will be in court May to discuss what will happen with Bossii and Cinnamon.

Niece Nancy Atkinson says the events of that day are "terrible" and "never should have happened."

"I'm happy to see that he's not going to be able to keep animals anymore but I don't know how it will be enforced," she said. "I think (he) had more remorse for his dogs than he did for the human being that was killed."

The neighbour who witnessed the aftermath of the attack and called 911 says it's been a long two years.

Nicola Opsal says she's "thankful it's almost over" and hopes she can "put it behind" her.

But she says it may never be fully behind her -- the experience has stopped her from leaving the house on her own.

"I'm just so scared of a dog being out and attacking me," Opsal said.

Williams' niece is trying to focus on her aunt's memory.

"Small body, big attitude -- just a real character," she said.

And she hopes more might be done to prevent similar attacks.

"This time, it was an elderly woman. ... Who's to say next time, it wouldn't be a child?" she said.

Williams' family and neighbours hope Bagaric's other two dogs are also euthanized. Top Stories

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