Saturday, April 4, 2009

Just another Pit Bull story

If this happy girl looked like any other dog, she would've been adopted already. I can't remember the details exactly, not sure how she arrived at Toronto Animal Services but later her owner was contacted and he said he didn't want her anymore. He didn't have any paperwork for her either or wasn't interested in looking for it and so now she's considered a prohibited dog and can't be allowed to stay in Ontario.

Bullies in Need rescue will be coming by to pick her up and transport her out of province where she'll make someone a wonderful pet. It's too bad that someone isn't going to be here in the city. It's too bad she can't just go out onto the TAS adoption floor and wiggle her butt into someone's life.

As I leave Toronto Animal Services, a couple come up to me with a midsized, black, muscular dog. The couple are young, well-dressed, happy. I'm thinking maybe they're going to pick up a lost pet or do a meet and greet. I crouch down to pet their dog.

"We just found this Pit Bull and we're bringing it in," they say. "Is this the right place?"

"Yeah, it's the right place," I say but really I'm thinking, No, it's the wrong place.


Ian said...

Sad,just plain sad

It`s too bad she can`t be adopted out through T.A.S.

You do such a great job of showcasing and promoting your dogs.

YesBiscuit! said...

It is lucky for me there isn't such a thing as a magical "click to adopt immediately" button because I'd adopt this dog (and thousands of others) in a tail wag.

Caveat said...

Well, since there's no such thing as a 'pit bull', I'd tend to call short-haired mutts something else and put the little guys up for adoption.

No ID marks, no owner registration, it's a mutt. Period.

No, I'm not dense, I'm just really tired of all the people who are 'only following orders' in this benighted Fiberal-infested province. The DOLA amendments (which achieved nothing but a discriminatory two-tiered justice system using dog owners as a test population) are completely optional in terms of enforcement. And that's straight from the horse's ass of a former AG's mouth.

Add to that the fact that most of the people burdened by their munis with enforcing this piece of garbage know little about dog breeds, rarely see purebred dogs that come close to the correct appearance and are looking for a needle in a haystack since the banned breeds are so rare most people have never seen them (and they sure aren't turning up at animal shelters) and you have a situation so disgusting it makes the Inquisition look tame by comparison.

Fred said...

Caveat, I figure as long as the DOLA exists in its present state with all its vagueness and prejudice against certain breeds, there's going to be someone somewhere up the ladder who will want to enforce it as they see fit. Dogs like this one will unfortunately have to wait and see how the BSL challenge fairs in court.

It's too bad she'll have to shipped out of province but I suspect she'll end up in a far better place than with her previous owner.

Ian said...

I`m curious about something.
Can a representative from T.A.S or a Rescue get a decision from a Judge or someone authorized to make that decision on whether this dog(or any other dog that is picked up or surrendered) falls under that Legislation?

Wouldn`t that be the simplest way?

Or is it simply a guessing game?

Fred said...

Ian, as far as I know, it's a guessing game. Court challenges can be made and I guess sometimes they are by individual owners but all that involves significant time and money and I'm not sure what the success rate is.

Better to just rewrite the law completely.

Ian said...

I agree about the law needing to be rewritten but I was just wondering how people are supposed to know if a dog presently falls under this legislation and if there was someone that you can ask and get a definitive answer without going to court and incurring that expense.

This dog doesn`t have an owner to go to Court unless it is adopted out in Ontario first.

The whole thing is bizarre to say the least.

What about that 2nd dog that was dropped off by the couple?

Calsidyrose said...

She's so lucky a rescue is coming for her...

I live in Texas, and at my county's Animal Shelter, pit bulls (and other bully breeds) often make it into the Adoption Room (A.R.)

However, it takes, by my unofficial data-keeping, an average of 3-5 months to get a pit bull into a home.

When I take my current favorite, JoJo, a fawn male pit bull with a lover-boy heart and sad eyes, to off-sites, people either point him out like he's an abomination and tell me pit bull horror-stories, or they comment on how beautiful he is and move on to get all mushy over the generic lab-mix puppies.

It is good that we can put the bully breeds into the A.R., but it is not fair for them to have to wait so long because people are mis-informed about how to handle a bully breed dog.

You can read more about JoJo on my blog,
and you can see more photos of JoJo on my Flickr page: :

Your blog is great--I read through many of the "popular posts" and agree with your thoughts. Keep up the good work in your part of the continent!

Fred said...

Ian, no there is nowhere to go for an easy decisive decree on whether or not a dog is a "Pit Bull" because I don't think an exact definition exists, at least not in the context of the present law. It can be pretty arbitrary. I'm no lawyer but it seems to me that as with many legal definitions, things need to be applied "reasonably". What "reasonable" means is often up to a judge to decide.

Calsidyrose, yes she is lucky. As long as there are saner provinces in Canada where BSL doesn't exist, there will hopefully always be some chance at a new life for these dogs. And thanks for visiting.

Fred said...

Ian, no further news on the second dog. It's entirely possible its owner went and picked it up. I'll probably find out tomorrow if I get a chance to go in.

Caveat said...

Ian, you raise a valid point. No, there is no pre-screening process so that owners have a clue that they may own Ontario 'pit bulls'. The only way they find out is when some cowboy of an AC officer who thinks he really knows his stuff points and says "that's a 'pit bull' who is too young, isn't wearing a muzzle, isn't neutered, blah blah blah".

There is no appeal of this arbitrary, subjective (and if you know dogs, usually hilarious in a gallows-humour kind of way) decision outside of the courtroom. There is nothing in the law about behaviour, it's all about looks. Not breed, mind you, looks.

In some cities, for example, AC officers hunting 'pit bulls' have targeted (both purebred and mixed) Viszlas, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Boxers, Boston terriers, Bullmastiffs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, French Bulldogs - there's more, but you get the picture.

Incidentally, nobody is obligated to identify a dog as a 'pit bull' or to enforce these regulations. Cities such as Ottawa have refused to try to enforce it and there are others. The only reason to ID a dog as a 'pit bull' under the law is because they want to kill the dog. There were already enough [unenforced] laws around to protect people from dangerous dogs but that's not what this is about.

There are fewer than 50 registered American Staff terriers in Ontario. There are about 300 each of Staff Bull and American Pit Bull terriers.

To get an idea of how rare they are here, there are roughly 3.5 million dogs in the province.

Once the magic words, 'pit bull', have been uttered by some flunky with no credentials, experience or training, the dog owner is presumed guilty. Wam bam, got ten grand? They must prove their dog is something that the govt can't define and that doesn't actually exist. There's no such thing as a 'pit bull' and while the law says 'substantially similar in physical characteristics' to the 3 (very different) banned breeds, it doesn't say how you prove your dog is not SS to those breeds. It even advocates using breed standards to identify mongrels, when they aren't used to identify purebreds.

This garbage is a classic example of when people should know what they don't know. It's too bad only smart people understand that concept.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Fred - great post. Thanks for publishing. I didn't think TAS sent dogs through breed rescue but am so glad to hear that I was wrong.

From what I've gathered, many rescues/shelters in Ontario are trying to ship their acquired Pit Bulls (or PB "-Like Dogs") out of the province. We do that with any Am.Staff or Pit Bull that doesn't get claimed by its owners. The exception to that rule would be the senior ones that we feel shouldn't be making such a long trip (like the 10+ years). For those, we usually do as Caveat suggests - name them lab mixes, find a good home (very specific and usually through certain people that are "advocates for the underdog") and waive the adoption fee.

Fred said...

DDF, TAS South (don't know about the others) has great connections with a lot of rescues in Ontario - just another one of those things they never publicize (because they don't publicize anything) but which they should - and will quite often place dogs with them. Given the people that work at TAS South and their rescue connections, their total rescues contacts in Ontario are extensive.

If the dog in this case were actually an older dog, TAS would've been able to put it on the adoption floor as older "Pit Bulls" are allowed to stay in province.

I've often joked about just calling all unknown breed dogs "Labs" but that can only pushed so far before someone, anyone from janitor to councilor, lodges a complaint and all of a sudden all eyeballs are on the facility and any leeway it may have had is suddenly gone.

Can you imagine the field day organizations like The Sun or THS would have if they found out TAS was adopting out prohibited Pit Bulls? They wouldn't even have to prove anything with regards to breed. All they'd have to do is put "Pit Bull Adoptions at TAS" in the headlines and everyone would be screaming bloody murder.

The only real way to cure this prejudice is to kill breed specific legislation. It needs to go before dogs can be truly safe in Ontario.

Ian said...

I hesitate to comment again because this law is just so insane but

Wouldn`t older dogs that someone has tagged as Lab mixes also be at risk of being called pit bulls by someone?

Then that owner would have to try and prove that that dog is not a pit bull?

If they can`t then they would be guilty of not complying with this insane law and the Rescue or facility would be guilty of adopting out a pit bull that had simply been tagged as a Lab mix and the dog would be killed(?)

Or does the Gov`t only go after people with young dogs?

Do they think this supposed dangerousness decreases with age?

How can the Gov`t take this seriously?
It makes absolutely no sense to a thinking person over the age of perhaps 6.

Fred said...

Ian, you're right. This law doesn't make any sense. In principle - ie. protecting people from dangerous dogs - it doesn't work because it focuses on looks/breed not deed, and in practice it doesn't work because it's open to too broad interpretations and thus extreme prejudice and abuse can occur.

One of the scary things about this law is that it's open ended which means that at any time, additional breeds can be added to the banned list. It would be no big surprise to wake up one day to find more large breed dogs suddenly prohibited in the province.

The age thing isn't a measure of possible aggression. It's a grandfathering clause so that people with targeted breed dogs at the time of the enactment of the legislation are able to keep their dogs. So, basically any dog that was in the province before 2004 (not sure if I have the date correct) is considered "restricted" and allowed to stay.

Caveat said...

You got it, Ian. And Fred.

One classic case of an obvious Lab cross being labeled a 'pit bull' (after the fact) was Munchie. If that dog was a 'pit bull' then we're all SOL. In Mississauga, they seem to think just about any short-haired mutt with a boxy snout is a 'pit bull'. You should see their latest target - don't make me laugh, the dog in no way resembles the three purebreds banned in Ontaristan (as we call it these days).

And btw, it isn't 'grandfathering' as our former AG said it was. It's the exact opposite, in fact.

The new rules were brought in to specifically target an existing class of dog owner.

And yeah, they can 'keep' their dogs - as long as they muzzle them (no age cutoff there at either end), get them neutered, keep them leashed, don't go to dog parks, don't let them act like dogs in any way shape or form and are 100% perfect in every way - then it's all hunky-dory. Some insane towns say that if a 'pit bull' (LOL) is in a car with non-family members, he/she has to be muzzled.

These people are completely insane or maybe just so arrogant that they think everyone else is stupid. Self-serving and given to pandering to the cheap seats goes without saying. Hey, that's the majority - ding-dongs who pay no attention to what their so-called 'government' is doing.

They knew absolutely nothing about dogs, dog owners, dog breeds, mixed breeds, dog behaviour, which dogs bite, or any of the rest of it yet went ahead in the face of overwhelming opposition from all educated corners and pass it with a whipped vote. Even some of the Fiberals left the House prior to the vote.

Saddest of all, legislation to control dangerous owners already existed, for decades. Like most regulations including leashing and licensing, it was never enforced or taken seriously. To my knowledge, there was only one instance of the Dog Owners' Liability Act being invoked at all - in 1995.

The whole thing makes me sick. Seriously, I'm not the person I was before this BS started in August, 2004. None of us are and the funny thing is, I've never even owned a bulldog x terrier type although I've known a lot of them over the years and still do.

We have filed for leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to get this piece of disciminatory, counter-productive, totally useless piece of garbage struck down.

Wish us luck.

Michelle said...

So sad.

One of Dinglehopper's best friends is a pitbull. He just loves her.

If I had to say which dog would be more likely to be viscious (if I had make a guess, since neither of them are)... Dingle, for sure.

Anonymous said...

post her over night express to me, i live in south africa and we can keep our pitts, get new pitts, walk our dogs unleashed and unmuzzled in the streets, what a world, we only have a law about how many dogs of any kind on one property. my girl is a year and a half and no one can take her, send me the little one