Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Profile: B

B had a bad record. Her owner let her off leash at a park and B started a dog fight. The owner was warned by city officials to keep B on leash and muzzled when in public. Maybe the owner misunderstood the instructions because he brought B to another park and let her off leash where she got into another dog fight. This time B was taken away from the owner. The owner wanted B back but before that could happen, he had to once again promise to keep the dog on leash and muzzled. Once he agreed to this, B was returned to him. He then took B to a park and released her off leash. B got into another dog fight. B was once again taken away from the owner and placed in confinement at Toronto Animal Services where she was due to be euthanized. She was one of the first dogs to fall under the provisions of Ontario's new pitbull law. But again the owner wanted B back and decided to appeal the decision.

An appeal can be very drawn out and since it didn't cost the owner anything, he delayed the process as long as he could by not returning phone calls, not showing up for court appearances.

So, B was kept at TAS for over three years. Her owner has never visited her. She had no visitors at all and, due to her legal situation, she was never allowed outside. She spent almost all her time locked in a 1 meter by 2 meter concrete pen. Occasionally, one of the sympathetic staffers would take her into one of the empty rooms in the facility and play with her for a few minutes but other than that, B was alone.

I didn't know any of this the first time I accidently stumbled upon her. I walked into the wrong room trying to find a vet tech and instead I saw a big Staff Terrier wagging its tail and quietly looking up at me as I walked up to her kennel. She looked like a mass of muscle stuck on four spindly legs with a football for a head. When she saw I wasn't going to leave right away, she wagged her tail harder and her hind end wiggled like a puppy's. I extended my hand and she tried to nudge it with her nose through the mesh of her door. I patted her nose a bit and then turned away to leave. Usually, when a person walks away from a kenneled dog, the dog will bark hoping for more attention but she just looked at me and kept wagging her tail.

Later, I asked about the Staff Terrier and got B's history. I wanted to take some photos of her so I asked if I could be there when she was taken out of her kennel for her next playtime.

She turned out to be a playful dog, very happy to have someone keeping her company. B proudly carried around her only toy, a squeaky ball, and dropped it at my feet and waited for me to kick it so she could fetch it again. She was full of pent up energy and the only time she stayed in one spot was when I scratched her back and then she happily wiggled her hind quarters. When her time was up, she obediently followed the staff member back into her cage and only gave a single cry of disappointment when her cage door was shut.

I had a hard time reconciling the behaviour of this dog with its living situation. If I were left in solitary confinement for months on end with nothing to do except stare at the walls and floor, I'd go crazy. I'm not sure, but I think that holds true for most warm blooded animals. The grace with which B handled her isolation truly amazed me. Not only did she not go cage crazy, she remained calm and friendly and her constantly happy wagging tail was a sure sign of her resilient personality.

The case dragged on until, finally, it was discovered that the owner had left town with no forwarding address and had basically abandoned B to the city. The staff at TAS tried to get the kill order reversed, saying that B was not a threat to people and would be sent to a pitbull rescue facility where she would be properly supervised. For a while, there was hope. But in the end, with pressure to adhere to the breed ban, the request was turned down.

On a cold afternoon in February, after spending the last three years of her life in solitary confinement, B was euthanized.


Ian said...

This just shows the foolishness of this law.
This dog would have been perfectly fine with a good responsible owner who knew their own dog and didn`t set it up to get into trouble.
Good dog dead and owner free to get another dog and do the exact same thing all over again.
How sad for this little dog.

Lynda said...

How very sad and unfortunate for this dog, who did not deserve to live for three years locked up, only to die in the end. Unbelievable.

Ian said...

I read somewhere(can`t remember where)that of the 4000+ dogs killed so far due to this law there was only 1 Pure Breed (Staffordshire Bull Terrier) caught up.
Was this the one and why was this owner given so many chances?
I thought there were no 2nd chances or does it depend where you live and who picks up your dog?
There`s an alleged illegal dog being held in Mississauga for simply being loose for a bit and there seems to be no 2nd chances for that Owner.
That case is before the Courts.
This case makes that case seem even more bizarre.

Fred said...

There were some extenuating circumstances about her case which complicated things a bit (one being that she was one of the first to fall victim to Ontario's Breed Specific Legislation) and that may have accounted for the differences in how her case was prosecuted.

I never gave too much thought to BSL until I met B. Her time in limbo really personalized the unfairness of the law for me. You can see in the photos how much joy she had in her face whenever she was around us and yet we failed her.

Caveat said...

It's unlikely that B was a member of any of the banned breeds because they are very rare. She looks like a mutt but I can't be certain. She is not an AmStaff, there are no more than a handful of those in Ontario - around 30 in total.

What's particularly annoying about this story is that the owner deliberately allowed the dog to get into trouble - three times. No owner should be allowed to do that and the dog should not have been returned to him after the second 'mistake'.

The existing Dog Owners' Liability Act covered these kinds of cases, ie, a dog owner was always responsible for anything their dog did. That could be vet bills, replacing clothing or other property, etc.

The only thing added by the Ontario Fiberals (despite overwhelming opposition) was discrimination against owners of dogs of a very vague appearance and the setting of a legal precedent to be used against other property owners - as we have seen.

The Rambo case will be in court next Wed and Thursday. He's the pup who escaped his yard when a guest left the gate open. We are hoping for a win in that case and will be in court.

We also await the Court of Appeal decision on our case to have the entire 'pit bull' portion of the law struck as unconstitutional, rather than just the parts we had struck last year at Superior Court.

And I hate to say it, but B wasn't euthanized. She was put to death. There's a huge difference.

Another lovely dog killed due to human stupidity.

Katie said...

This post made my stomach hurt. Poor pup. She deserved better than that.