One year in prison for Saint John man whose dogs attacked 4 people

Michael Kirby was sentenced to one year in prison and two years probation.  (Roger Cosman/CBC - photo credit)

Michael Kirby was sentenced to one year in prison and two years probation. (Roger Cosman/CBC – photo credit)

A 60-year-old Saint John man has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after his dogs attacked several people on the Lower West Side.

Michael Edmond Kirby was found guilty of four counts of negligent assault last summer. The charges date back to three days between August and December 2018 when his dogs attacked four people, including a 14-year-old boy.

On Thursday, the Crown argued that Kirby should get between 18 and 24 months in prison, while the defense argued he should receive conditional release and parole.

Court of King’s Bench Justice Arthur Doyle delivered his verdict in Saint John on Friday.

“Given the circumstances of this sad case, it is my duty to render a judgment that reflects the seriousness of the offenses committed by Mr. Kirby,” Doyle said.

Among Kirby’s credits was that he was a first offender and showed the victims compassion and remorse for his actions.

“He has accepted responsibility for his actions and has stated that he is willing to comply with any terms,” ​​Doyle said.

To make matters worse, there were several attacks.

Doyle said many people are familiar with the saying, “Every dog ​​is entitled to a bite before its owner can be blamed for it.”

“Mr. Kirby’s dogs had their bite and Mr. Kirby knew it,” Doyle said.

The first attack happened because Kirby “deliberately” let the dogs off the leash, Doyle said. The second happened after one of the dogs broke loose while tied outside Tim Horton’s home, and the third and fourth happened after the dogs fled his home when he was away.

Because of the repeated attacks over the four months, Doyle said he didn’t think parole was the right choice.

“Neither do I have confidence that carrying out the sentence in the community would not endanger the community,” he said.

Kirby has not been incarcerated for the past four and a half years as he goes through the trial. After the verdict on Friday, a court sheriff handcuffed him and led him to the holding cells.

Doyle also ordered two years’ probation upon Kirby’s release and a lifetime ban on prohibited or restricted weapons.

No statements on the sacrificial effect

Court officials were unable to reach three of the four victims to ask if they wanted to testify about the victims’ impact. The victim they were able to reach declined to write one.

Doyle recounted some of the testimonies of the victims when they testified at Kirby’s trial.

One man testified that the dogs surrounded him in a semicircle and that he felt them bite his legs. He testified that he felt like “running for his life.” His injuries included a stab wound to his right hand, and he testified that he was unable to work for seven days of his 14-day rotation because he was in pain.

American Kennel Club

American Kennel Club

Another man who was attacked another day testified that he was bitten two or three times and it took his injuries four or five days to heal.

The man who was attacked in December said he believed if a woman hadn’t stopped the attack the dogs would have “got me”. He was bitten five or six times.

The 14-year-old who was attacked in December was taken to hospital with multiple stab wounds to his wrists, ankles, calves, upper arm and back. The boy told the court he loved dogs before the attack but was now “a bit intimidated by them”.

Doyle said a conditional sentence would “downplay” Kirby’s offense.

“All four acts … were the result of unprovoked and vicious dog attacks,” he said.

The incidents involved varying numbers of Kirby’s dogs – from one to four dogs. Two were Louisiana Catahoula leopard dogs and two were Catahoula-Labrador mixes.

According to the American Kennel Club website, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog “needs firm leadership and early socialization as it can be independent, territorial, and protective.”

Kirby got two more dogs during the time of the attacks. When he was arrested in December 2018, he had six dogs.

Five were euthanized and one was found dead at Kirby’s home when the dogs were confiscated two days after his arrest.

Kirby hasn’t had a pet since his dogs were exterminated in 2018.


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