August 31, 2006

Neighbour hates neighbour

To the young dog owner in this Winnipeg Sun story, welcome to the world that Ontarians are living in every day! Owners of ANY breed in Ontario should be afraid of losing their dogs because of vindictive or fearful neighbours.

Interesting statement by the city councillor, Gord Steeves:

The pound requires bite victims to sign sworn statements in case judicial action follows. "If we don't, anybody could just phone us and say, 'Joe Blow's dog down the street bit me,' because they don't like Joe Blow. That's not right," he said.
I don't know if that's the policy of every municipal pound here in Ontario, but I highly doubt it.

In Ontario, your dog doesn't have to bite to be taken away. If someone complains that your dog "menaced" them, police can come to your house and, in some cases without a warrant, enter your home (whether or not you are there), seize your dog, and you could face up to $10,000 in fines and up to six months in jail. Your dog does not have to be identified as a "pit bull" for this to happen. And trust me, when they have your dog, getting it back is no easy task!

Strange quote from Tim Dack of Winnipeg Animal Services:
Animal services chief operator Tim Dack said the Labrador was seized for a 10-day quarantine -- a precautionary measure following any such apparent attack -- after his employees found that "a bite has occurred."

The pound's action, however, is not an indication that the girl was left with a clear wound. "There doesn't have to be a mark. There doesn't have to be a scratch," Dack explained. "The biting doesn't have to break the skin or leave a mark. It's the action of biting."
So what the heck does it mean, that "a bite has occurred", if there isn't a mark and there isn't a scratch and the skin wasn't broken? Can you imagine falling off a bike, sustaining no injuries, no skin scrapes, no cuts or bruises, no broken bones, and then suing the bike manufacturer because you fell off?

GIVE ME A BREAK! Everybody needs to relax about dogs. PLEASE.

Although I think it's absolutely wrong and a perfect case of an innocent person being penalized without having broken the law, Ms. Ogal is lucky she only has to pay $200 in pound fees to get her dog back.

She is more fortunate than she realizes. Labrador retreiver mixes are among the types of dogs most commonly misidentified as "pit bulls". If, whether in Winnipeg or here in Ontario, God forbid her dog had been identified as a "pit bull", the only thing she would have received back would have been a box containing her pet's ashes.

And last, but definitely not least, another quote from Councillor Steeves encapsulates much of what is wrong with the way dog legislation is headed.
They are still dogs, but they are also innocent, I think, until proven guilty.
Even though Mr. Steeves is defending this particular dog, the problem is in the assumption that a DOG can be guilty or innocent, or that there is any such thing as morals or conscience or any such human concept within the dog world. This is not about the dog being innocent or guilty.

It is the dog OWNER who has to pay the $200 fine.
It is the dog OWNER who has to spend 10 days without her dog.
It is the dog OWNER who has to go through the stress of being charged and not knowing whether she'll get her dog back.
It is the dog OWNER who has to fight for her rights, even though she did nothing wrong.

It is the dog OWNER who, in this case, is presumed guilty until proven innocent.

It is the dog OWNER whose rights are being trampled on, while the alleged victim can scream obscenities, spray paint someone else's property, make false accusations, and generally make another person's life hell, with impunity.



I've included the entire story below because of the Sun's money-making insistence on requesting fees for archived articles. I don't want this story to disappear, like so many others.

The original article is at:
http://winnipegsun.com/News/Winnipeg/2006/08/30/1786048-sun.html

or possibly at:
http://winnipegsun.com/News/Winnipeg/2006/08/30/pf-1786048.html


August 30, 2006

Big bucks to spring puppyOwner says bite call was a spite call
By ROSS ROMANIUK, CITY HALL REPORTER

A North End woman is livid after seeing her dog seized and quarantined -- saddling her with a nearly $200 pound bill -- only because someone cried wolf.

At least that's what Shannon Ogal insists happened when a teen girl complained to animal services officials last week that she had been bitten by the eight-month-old Labrador-cross on Manitoba Avenue.

Ogal lost her male pup, Ruffus -- at least temporarily -- last Wednesday when pound employees nabbed it as a result of a confrontation between her and a couple of teens in front of her house the previous evening.

The girls were "drunk or on something," Ogal said, when one of them taunted the animal.

"The next thing you know she screams, 'Your dog bit me!' " Ogal, a 27-year-old hotel desk clerk, told the Sun.

"She made it up. Then she just said she's calling the cops. She didn't show me the bite at all."

Dogcatchers showed up the next day to apprehend Ruffus, despite the owner's insistence there was no such attack or visible injury.

"There was nothing at all," Ogal said. "The worst he would do is maybe lick someone to death."

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE

Animal services chief operator Tim Dack said the Labrador was seized for a 10-day quarantine -- a precautionary measure following any such apparent attack -- after his employees found that "a bite has occurred."

The pound's action, however, is not an indication that the girl was left with a clear wound.

"There doesn't have to be a mark. There doesn't have to be a scratch," Dack explained.

"The biting doesn't have to break the skin or leave a mark. It's the action of biting. People could be just lucky to not get bitten -- they could move their arm just in time, or it could just get their coat instead of them."

The 10-day confiscation, Dack said, protects the public in case the quarantined animal is rabid and costs the pet's owner $18 per day.

Even if Ogal retrieves Ruffus this weekend as she hopes, it will come with a bill of about $180 plus tax.

She wants the pound and police to listen to her argument that the teen complainant is a troublemaker allegedly responsible for a spray-painted slur, "Dead dog & dead bitch," scrawled on her rear shed since the incident.

"She's been harassing me. She drives by, swearing," said Ogal, who also owns Ruffus' mother Attila.

"She said, 'It would be sad if your other dog is taken away, too.'"

Coun. Gord Steeves, head of city hall's protection committee, said he has confidence in the pound's ability to do the right thing.

"But hopefully they'll look at the injury. You don't want a dog picked up unless the dog has actually bitten someone," Steeves (St. Vital) said.

"It's just like a human. They are still dogs, but they are also innocent, I think, until proven guilty."

The pound requires bite victims to sign sworn statements in case judicial action follows.

"If we don't, anybody could just phone us and say, 'Joe Blow's dog down the street bit me,' because they don't like Joe Blow. That's not right," he said.

"I'm not saying people don't lie on statements, but we've never, to my knowledge or my memory, had a case when somebody has lied on a statement for a quarantine of an animal."

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