Dogs, not bear, responsible for death of woman, coroner says

Dogs, not bear, responsible for death of woman, coroner says

Ping (Amy) Guo’s injuries were concentrated on her arms and legs, consistent with a large animal, said the coroner

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The death of a woman at a blueberry farm in Pitt Meadows — initially attributed to a bear attack — has now been blamed on a neighbour’s dogs.

Ping (Amy) Guo, 54, was found dead among the berry bushes at Doremi Blueberry Farm in the 20000-block of Dewdney Trunk Road on Aug. 15, 2021.

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At the time, conservation officers and police suspected an animal attack, possibly a black bear, and urged the public to take precautions.

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The family believed Guo was killed by a dog and sued the farm owners, the City of Pitt Meadows, and the dog owners who lived in a neighbouring property, alleging negligence.

Now a newly released coroners report confirms Guo “died of multiple blunt and sharp force injuries sustained in an unwitnessed canid attack.”

The report said an autopsy on Guo found her injuries were concentrated on her arms and legs, consistent with a large animal. DNA analysis of hair and saliva samples identified the animal as a dog or a wolf.

Because of the location of the attack, conservation officers determined Guo was most likely attacked by a domestic dog.

In 2023, a death at a nearby property resulted in DNA samples being obtained from the dogs at the residence, said the coroner. DNA tests determined Guo was killed by those dogs. Her death was ruled accidental.

The Jan. 3, 2023 death that let authorities obtain DNA samples from the animals happened at 20080 Old Dewdney Trunk Road, beside Doremi’s blueberry fields.

The body found in the home had lacerations and bite marks consistent with an animal attack, said Mounties.

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Police did not identify the victim, but a court application filed by Guo’s family seeking documents from the RCMP about the investigation identified him as Baljit Haer, who had owned the property adjacent to the farm.

Following his death, the dogs were impounded and DNA testing was conducted, it said.

RCMP said the death is not considered a criminal matter. The dogs, which neighbours described as Rottweilers, were put down later that month.

Guo’s husband Jun Peng and daughter Kelsey Peng filed a civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court Feb. 2022 against the farm and its owners for allegedly failing to ensure the property was safe for visitors and for failing to warn Guo of the possible presence of dangerous animals.

They said Guo was invited to the farm to go berry picking.

In their response, the farm and its owners denied it contributed in any way to Guo’s death and that it breached any duty of care owed to Guo.

The claim also alleged the owners of the dog, identified initially as Jane Doe and/or John Doe, were negligent in allowing their dog to be at large and display aggressive behaviour causing injury and death to Guo. The claim was later amended in July 2023 naming Baljit Haer as the owner.

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Haer, represented by an insurance lawyer, denied the allegations in his response to the suit.

The civil suit also accused the City of Pitt Meadows of negligence for failing to enforce the city’s dog control bylaw in the area of the farm when it knew or ought to have known of an aggressive or vicious dog nearby.

The city denied the allegations, saying it was unaware of any aggressive dogs owned or kept by Haer.

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