Michael Edmond Kirby, 58, is on trial on four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one for failing to honor the court’s commitment to keep his dogs on a leash and muzzled while in public. The case is now linked to legal arguments over the admissibility of so-called ‘similar act evidence’ which focuses on an earlier attack in 2018 and Kirby had to shoot one of his dogs in 2015.
The lead investigator in the case said in March that Kirby told him he kept a gun handy in case one of his dogs turned on him.
This, says the Crown, proves he knew his dogs could be dangerous.
Lawyers for both sides spent the day chatting with Judge Arthur Doyle, but no decision was made. The case is expected to be sent to court on June 7.
Numerous alleged attacks
In March, the court heard allegations that Kirby’s dogs attacked six people between June and December 2018. Most of his dogs have been described as Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog mixes.
According to the American Kennel Club website, the Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog “requires firm guidance and early socialization because they can be independent, territorial, and protective.”
The first complainant in the case testified that he was attacked by several dogs on his way from the port, where he worked, to the Tim Hortons on King Street West on August 22, 2018. He said the dogs formed a semicircle around him and bit his legs as he ran to a transport truck parked nearby.
He said he couldn’t be sure but believed there were six dogs involved.
Const. Jason Lohnes said he was at Kings Street West Tim Hortons on September 2 during an unrelated call when he saw Kirby approaching with three dogs on a leash. Kirby tied them to a sign post across the street and entered the restaurant.
Lohnes saw a black dog with white markings on his chest break free. She walked into the Tim Hortons parking lot and surrounded a man who had just come out with a tray of drinks. He said the dog was trying to get behind the man, like a sheepdog would, and bit him on the leg.
Lohnes suggested that Kirby get muzzles for his dogs, but said Kirby seemed indifferent to the suggestion.
The officer testified that he told Kirby that maybe it was a child who walked through the parking lot. He said Kirby dismissed this as “what if”.
But soon it was a child.
On December 12, a 14-year-old boy was attacked by two dogs as he was about to take the bus to school. A bystander managed to scare off the dogs – albeit briefly. The dogs returned to attack them both before other people arrived to help them.
This attack came minutes after another involving a nearby pedestrian. The dogs threw the man to the ground. He testified that if it had not been for a motorist who had pulled over and managed to scare the dogs away, “they might have gotten me.”
During the Dec.12 incidents, Kirby was already on court orders to keep his dogs on his property at all times, except when he was taking them for walks. He was ordered to take them one at a time and keep them muzzled and leashed each time.
I kept a gun hand – just in case
The lead investigator in the case said in March that Kirby always kept a gun handy in his apartment in case one of his dogs turned on him. She said Kirby told her he shot one of her dogs in 2015.
Kirby was arrested by police after the incidents of December 12, 2018, and by the time the dogs were removed from his home two days later, one of them was dead and “it looked like he had been chewed ”, according to the testimony of a police officer who was part of a team of 12 people assembled to seize the dogs.
The other five dogs were euthanized, the court heard.