Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Other Potton residents had experienced incidents with Alan Barnes' dogs

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A neighbor said she was terrified of Alan Barnes' dogs. They have since been euthanized. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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Before the dog attack suffered by Dominique Alain, several citizens of Potton had experienced incidents with Alan Barnes' animals. A police officer from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and citizens came to testify on this subject at the Cowansville courthouse during the third day of the civil trial brought by Ms. Alain and her spouse.

Patrick Munoz was responsible for investigating the events of March 29, 2019, when Dominique Alain was seriously injured. He and his team met with a series of witnesses.

The investigator notably recounted his discussions with Jason Ball, who was a municipal councilor at that time. era. He confirmed to him that he had been bitten by Mr. Barnes' dogs. However, he was initially reluctant to get involved in this legal matter.

The fact that he worked for the City, I can still understand. I knew there would possibly be civil proceedings. And two, someone from the Municipality who does not himself report an incident of which he is a victim, perhaps that looks bad, affirmed Mr. Munoz before the Court.

Six days later, Mr. Ball called me back. He had been thinking about his business and said he was going to get involved. He sent me his statement by email.

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The investigator also explained that he had in hand a table which lists around twenty potential victims, some claiming to have been bitten, others chased by Mr. Barnes' dogs. However, the judge ruled: he cannot refer to this document, which has no evidentiary force. The police officer is only authorized to report exchanges with people who will testify at this civil trial.

I cannot take for granted that people who do not testify are victims. Maybe the conclusion is that he is not a victim. I will not allow the witness to count the number of people, explained judge Sylvain Provencher.

Annick Joannette, who was bitten by a dog in the area where Alan Barnes lived, also testified.

In September 2016, she was cycling on Bellevue Road when a dog attacked her ankle.

I decided to go to the village by bike. I was on Bellevue Street. A dog on my left started barking and ran towards me looking angry and dangerous. I'm not afraid of dogs. I didn't think the dog would attack me. The dog charged and bit my calf. I was very surprised, I had to put my feet on the ground. My bike protected me. The dog growled, showed his fangs at me. I could see that he was really dangerous, she said.

The dog's owner called the animal. I yelled "tie up your dog." I was angry, I have rarely experienced that. His response was get away bitch. My leg was bleeding, she emphasizes.

After going to the hospital to, among other things, receive preventive treatment against tetanus, she wanted to warn her neighbors of this incident. And she went to City Hall. The employee on site told him that it was the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) which received this type of complaint. She contacted the SPA, who replied that they did not have an agreement with the municipality of Potton and that there was nothing they could do.

Mr. Joanette called the municipality back and the same employee told him she was very surprised by this response from the SPA.

The citizen also reported her bite to the Sûreté du Québec on the evening of the events. According to her, the police officer was courteous, but made her understand that in the countryside, dog complaints were not handled like in the city.

Suzanne Viens, who lives very close to where Alan Barnes lived, also claims to have experienced two incidents with her neighbor's dogs. However, the animals did not bite her.

When she left her house, she noticed that two dogs were at the bottom of the stairs. It barked, it growled. I didn't turn my back on them, I went inside. I was taken home. I called my partner, she said. I was really scared for a while after that, she added.

Suzanne Viens also said that the dogs, that she describes as being very aggressive, were often free, so much so that they could leave Alan Barnes' land. However, she never filed a complaint with the Municipality.

Recall that in this civil suit for $676,000, Dominique Alain and her spouse are trying to others to demonstrate that the municipality of Potton was negligent and knew that the dogs which attacked it were dangerous.

The testimonies of several witnesses, including that of the former mayor of the Municipality of Potton, are expected Thursday. The defense will also begin its presentation of the facts in the afternoon.

With information from Marie-Hélène Rousseau

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