Evicted Chilliwack tenants leave dogs behind

Chilliwack landlord feels bitten by bureaucracy in efforts to evict tenants and their pack of dogs

Chilliwack landlord Tony Rapaz feels he isn't getting any help in removing several dogs from his property following an eviction this weekend. Officials say they are working with him

Chilliwack landlord Tony Rapaz feels he isn't getting any help in removing several dogs from his property following an eviction this weekend. Officials say they are working with him

Removing bad tenants may be difficult, but getting rid of the animals they leave behind can be almost impossible.

It’s a lesson learned by landlord Tony Rapaz this week, when the tenants he evicted from his Trethewey Avenue property left behind a pack of large and possibly dangerous dogs. On Saturday morning, he said he had the people removed from the home with the help of the RCMP.

“They sell drugs, and I’m not going to be nice about it,” he said.

But when they left, nobody packed up the dogs. And by Monday at 4 p.m. they were still there, barking and yelping at passersby from a ramshackle set up in an open garage.

He guesses there are four or five dogs in the garage. There is no garage door on the building, but the tenants recently built a half wall out of plywood, set inside the garage. On Monday afternoon, dogs’ faces could be seen through an open slat in the wood. By Tuesday morning, someone had covered the slat with a blue tarp.

Rapaz is furious, and said he’s getting no help from the FVRD and the SPCA.

“What a friggin’ mess,” he said, as he tried on Monday to navigate myriad organizations in search of help. The RCMP told him the dogs are dangerous and he should stay away. But that keeps him from accessing his own property. He believes it’s possible the dogs are guarding a drug stash.

He’s contacted the City of Chilliwack, the FVRD CARE Centre and the SPCA, looking for anybody to take possession of the dogs.

“Does somebody have to get hurt before they wake up?” he said.

However, the FVRD’s Jennifer Kinneman said that the tenants have not left the property, and therefore nobody has any right to remove the dogs.

“Our understanding is that the property owner may have evicted the tenant on May 1, however the tenant is in fact still living on the premises, and we have no legal authority to enter a property and remove the dogs,” she said. “He has been advised to seek legal counsel.”

Kinneman said there is “no contravention of any bylaw,” but that they are monitoring the situation.

“They’re in an enclosed space and they’re not a threat to public safely,” she said.

But Rapaz insists the house is empty, and said he’s been inside since he evicted the tenants over the weekend.

“There is nobody in the house, it’s 100 per cent empty,” he said.

He is also unaware if anyone is feeding the dogs.

“They’re just going wild in there,” he said. “As you walk in the driveway, they sense you and just start barking and yelling and crying.”

He said he worries about the animals’ well-being, but isn’t about to put himself in danger to care for the dogs.

“Dogs need care,” he said. “But in reality I don’t have access to my property, I have to go paint and fix the property, it has to be painted, it has to be cleaned up.”

The tenants never had permission to have dogs in the first place, he said. The tenancy agreement only allowed for one cat. But he believes the dogs don’t even belong to the ex-tenant, but to one of their adult children.

“The tenants had been there for over a year, and those dogs just showed up in the last two months,” he said.

And upon even more careful inspection of his tenancy policy, it seems the rental agreement doesn’t mention use of the detached garage.

The RCMP confirmed they have had been involved with the address recently.

Officers have been to the address over the weekend to ensure the safety of both people and the dogs,” Cpl. Mike Rail said. “Police are engaged with the property owner in facilitating the removal of the dogs from the residence.”

But so far, that hasn’t happened.

Kinneman said that for landlords to have property removed, they have to apply to the BC Supreme Court, which would issue a writ of possession. A bailiff or RCMP member would then accompany the property owner during the removal. It’s a very similar process when the SPCA removes an animal, she added.

jpeters@theprogress.com