City could face lawsuit over dog attack
The family of Sean Bajwa, the 11-year-old boy who was viciously attacked by a pit bull in a school playground earlier this month, is planning to sue the City of Surrey, Surrey SPCA and the RCMP.
The civil suit, which is expected to be filed in B.C. Supreme Court Monday or Tuesday, will allege each failed in its duty to protect the public from aggressive dogs.
Bajwa was attacked May 4 while playing at Cedar Hills Elementary School, near 98 Avenue and 123 Street.
Jordan Slezak, 20, saw the dog attack and came to Sean's aid, hitting the nine-month-old dog in the head twice with a baseball bat.
Sean needed about 100 stitches to close the bite wounds on his arms, legs and head. He is now at home recovering, but is yet to return to school.
Manjit Bajwa, Sean's dad, believes the attack could have been prevented had RCMP responded to a complaint of two unattended pit bulls circling a woman and her children about 30 minutes earlier.
According to Surrey Lawyer Paul Formby, who is representing the Bajwa family, the caller was told that unless the dogs actually bit someone, the RCMP would not intervene and referred the man to Surrey’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). He dialled the number he was given, only to get an automated recording, and then gave up when the woman and two children left the playground.
Formby says the Surrey SPCA needs an emergency number, just as the SPCA in Vancouver has. Mounties should have also known they were giving out a non-emergency number for the SPCA, Formby says.
The City of Surrey will be named as a defendant because it contracted the SPCA to act as Surrey's dog pound, and therefore, is responsible for overseeing the society's operations.
Formby also questions why the city hasn't either enacted bylaws restricting aggressive dog breeds, or lobbied the Victoria for province-wide regulations.
"We're in the dark ages when it comes to aggressive dogs," Formby said.
"The provincial government and the City of Surrey have to wake up – people are angry."
The pit bull's owners and their landlords will be named in the suit for letting the dogs escape and run free on the day of the attack.
Formby is also representing the victims of two other dog attacks recently in Surrey. In those cases, the lawuits will name the dogs' owners and the owners' landlords, Formby says.
On May 16, eight-year-old Kumuljeet Singh Hans and his four-year-old sister Harmon were walking with their grandmother down 88 Avenue near 130 Street when they were attracted by a Rottweiller. Harmon required about 50 stitches to close her wounds.
And on Oct. 19, 2007, Baljinder Pannu suffered a broken wrist when he was knocked to the ground by a pair of dogs in front of his home in the 12600 block of 97A Avenue.
None of these allegations have been proven in court. There have been no statements of defence filed in any of these lawsuits because the writs of summons are yet to be served.