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Park incident puts Vader, owner in doghouse

After an incident, Vader and his owners have been banned from the city dog park.

As the Dunkirk Common Council considers the possibility of banning certain participants, a dog and owner who have found themselves profiled over the last few weeks are Vader, a shepherd and husky mix, and his owner, Gary Miller.

Earlier in April, Miller and Vader had an incident occur at the Dunkirk Dog Park on Main Street Extension with dog owner Jade Lowe, and her dog, Corvus, a black lab mix, that has caused a stir over the last few weeks.

“Corvus and I had shown up at the dog park, there was another dog there and a couple, but we didn’t think much of it,” Lowe told the OBSERVER. “We went to the other fenced-in area because I didn’t know this dog or how he played with others. They asked me some questions about Corvus, if he was friendly with other dogs. … There was a shift in the air and then I heard the growling and then Vader was on top of Corvus and he would not get off of him and his owners did nothing.”

Miller, however, has a different recollection of what happened.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” Miller said. “Vader’s very playful and he loves other dogs. There was a girl sitting on a bench and her dog came up to her and sat on the bench. Vader went up and wanted to play. All of the sudden there was a little confrontation. She said Vader bit her dog. I looked at her dog and there were no lacerations, bite marks or any evidence of an attack.”

Miller said that had there been any harm done to Corvus, Miller would have paid for the vet bills, but the vet bills never came, leaving Miller to question why this all has happened.

“Vader is a nice dog, and he’s never attacked,” Miller said. “The council is going to try and change the law at the dog park because of other issues but Vader has now again been profiled. I just don’t understand.”

Miller has trained dogs for a long time, and got Vader, 3, as a rescue from the Lakeshore Humane Society in December. In that time, Miller has only seen a high energy dog that likes to play, and although Miller doesn’t have any other dogs right now, Vader has gotten along well with the other animal in the house.

“Him and our cat, Gabe, play around all the time,” Miller said. “The cat was a little standoffish at first but now they get along. People talking about Vader don’t know his history. He’s just a very playful dog.”

Following the incident, Miller said he has been contacted by Dunkirk police, who told him that he is no longer allowed at the Dunkirk Dog Park, and will be charged with trespassing should he be seen there. While Miller said that he’s willing to comply, and that he has other places to take Vader, he still can’t help but feel that Vader and him are being profiled.

“We’re trying to figure out why Vader is being profiled,” Miller said. “We’ve gotten some positive feedback on the situation, but we’re still trying to figure it out. I called down to the Humane Society and said there’s never been any issues with him. I don’t know why this went this far, I don’t understand it.”

While Miller acknowledges that Vader does jump on the fence at his house, it’s because Vader has relationships with the other dogs on the block. Miller insists there should not be any apprehension about Vader, and had additional input on the Dunkirk dog park in general.

“Maybe we should get rid of the dog park if all of these issues are happening,” Miller said.

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