September 29, 2006

Euthanasia: sugar coated extermination

As anyone who has read some of my articles knows, I have an aversion to the term "euthanasia" when referring to the killing of dogs that fit a certain physical profile.

Michael Bryant (Attorney General of Ontario), with the support of various Animal Rights groups, has repeatedly used the word to soften the impact of the Ontario breed ban.

I prefer the terms destruction, annihilation, extermination, eradication, or killing.

Various dictionaries define "euthanasia" as:

The act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment.
The act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition.
The act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.
The killing of someone who is very ill to end their suffering.


Friendly, healthy, adoptable dogs do not fit this definition.


I suppose you could argue that killing "pit bulls" is euthanasia, if you believe that "pit bulls" are a disease, a genetic abomination, a Frankenstein of the dog world. If you believe that, then you could argue that they suffer from the "incurable condition" of being a "pit bull" or that they are hopelessly "pit bull".

If, however, you have met, played with, or lived with one of these dogs, you already know that destruction and extermination are much more accurate descriptions of what is being done on a daily basis to these animals.

The source of the word "euthanasia" is the Greek "euthanatos" (eu + thanatos) meaning "easy death". It's supposed to mean that the act is performed in a painless manner.

Maybe we should use it to mean that the mass killing of dogs is EASIER than doing the real work of public education, effective enforcement, and deterrent punishment.

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Our minds are made up - don't confuse us with the facts

After listing every vote on the amendments to Bill 132 by the members of the committee, I was thinking that readers might be interested to read the entire discussion that took place on February 10, 2005, as each of these amendments were considered.

Four people presented amendments:

Norm Miller and Joe Tascona for the Conservatives
Peter Kormos for the New Democrats
David Zimmer for the Liberal party, the creators of the legislation
It's a long read, but worthwhile. Here are some of my thoughts after reading it again:
  • David Zimmer only confirmed his status in my mind as a weasel of the highest (lowest?) order.
     
  • The lawyers who worded this legislation, and the government amendments, DON'T HAVE A CLUE! I could have written better stuff on the back of a napkin in Tim Horton's!
     
  • A number of the suggestions by the non-government members were symbolic in nature, designed to allow further comments to be placed on record by the person making the motion. They should not be criticized individually, but should be considered as pieces of a whole strategy.
     
  • A simple review, as I did earlier, of only the motions themselves and their success or failure, misses most of the point. The accompanying comments and arguments show, in detail, the reasons for suggesting each amendment and, even more so, show the attitude of the government to clearly be one of "our minds are made up - don't confuse us with the facts".
     
  • Many of the other parties' recommendations were designed to reduce dog bites or to eliminate unfairness and vagueness, whereas all of the government recommendations were clearly to cover their legal behinds, to enable them to include more dogs (and their owners), or to make it easier to prosecute.
Here is the full text of the clause-by-clause discussions and voting.

February 10, 2005

And here are the four days of presentations by the public. Each time I re-read these, I am struck again by the massive amount of information and suggestions that were made available to the government, ALL of which were ignored.

January 24, 2005
January 27, 2005
February 2, 2005
February 3, 2005

Read the rest of this article

And people worry about "pit bulls"?

I never cease to be amazed at the inhuman acts one man will do to another man or, in this case, to a woman.

Wife abuser deported to Canada - National Post, September 29, 2006

In case the article disappears, here are some highlights:

A Canadian man who spent six years in a Washington state jail for keeping his wife on a squalid sailboat for years and forcing her to fight with German shepherds for food has been deported to Canada.

By the time police in Everett, Wash., found Linda David stuffed into the bow of the boat amid seven growling dogs in early 1997, she was covered in vomit and faeces. She had suffered brain damage and could barely move. Her ears looked like those of a boxer and scars from scrapping with the dogs crisscrossed her face. She weighed 105 pounds.

Her husband -- Victor David, 66, a Canadian citizen -- told social workers his wife had multiple sclerosis, and he had been collecting government cheques as her caregiver.

Mrs. David's brain is so badly damaged she barely remembers the abuse.

After years of therapy, Mrs. David can still only walk a few steps. She suffers from dementia and can barely see because her cataracts went untreated.

"Her brain was pulverized in some places," said Lynne Fulp, executive director of Partners In Care, the guardianship firm that oversees Mrs. David's trust. Almost every bone in her body had been broken, she said. "Those bones were allowed to heal without medical attention, so there's deformity from bones being healed improperly."

Experts say her brain has shrunk up to 40% from repeated blows.
Now, after only SIX years in prison in Washington State, this man is free to roam Canada. To borrow a phrase from Ontario's dog legislation, he is clearly a "menace to the safety of persons and domestic animals".

Read the rest of this article

September 28, 2006

Bill 132 Amendments

Here is a list of every amendment to Bill 132 proposed by every party on February 10, 2005 during the clause-by-clause voting.

All Liberal amendments were carried (accepted).
All Conservative and New Democrat amendments were lost (rejected).

The transcripts of the four committee hearings held prior to this clause-by-clause voting are at the following links:

January 24, 2005
January 27, 2005
February 2, 2005
February 3, 2005

The transcript of the clause-by-clause voting is at:

February 10, 2005

The text of the bill after these amendments is at:

Bill 132 Third Reading



STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Thursday 10 February 2005
PUBLIC SAFETY RELATED TO DOGS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 2005

Liberals: Mr. Kuldip Kular, Mr. Tim Peterson, Mr. Shafiq Qaadri, Mr. Mario G. Racco, Mr. David Zimmer
Conservatives: Mr. Norm Miller, Mr. Joseph N. Tascona
New Democrats: Mr. Peter Kormos

All Liberals voted in favour of their own amendments and against all others.
All Conservatives and New Democrats voted against all Liberal amendments and in favour of all others.

All Liberal amendments were carried (accepted).
All Conservative and New Democrat amendments were lost (rejected).



SECTION 1

1 Tascona: I move that the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out.
LOST

2 Miller: I move that clause (b) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
LOST

3 Kormos: I move that clause (c) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is American Staffordshire Terrier.
LOST

4 Kormos: I move that clause (d) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is American Pit Bull Terrier.
LOST

5 Kormos: I move that clauses (b), (c) and (d) of the definition of "pit bull", as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and American Pit Bull Terrier
LOST

6 Kormos: I move that clauses (b) and (c) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier.
LOST

7 Kormos: I move that clause (b) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be amended by adding, at the end, "except a Staffordshire bull terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club."
LOST

8 Kormos: I move that clause (c) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be amended by adding, at the end, "except an American Staffordshire terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club."
LOST

9 Kormos: I move that clause (d) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be amended by adding, at the end, "except an American pit bull terrier that is registered with the United Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association."
LOST

10 Kormos: I move that clauses (b), (c) and (d) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(b) a Staffordshire bull terrier, except a Staffordshire bull terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club;
(c) an American Staffordshire terrier, except an American Staffordshire terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club;
(d) an American pit bull terrier, except an American pit bull terrier that is registered with the United Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association.

LOST

11 Kormos: I move that clauses (b) and (c) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(b) a Staffordshire bull terrier, except a Staffordshire bull terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club,
(c) an American Staffordshire terrier, except an American Staffordshire terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club.

LOST

12 Zimmer: I move that clause (e) of the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(e) a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to those of dogs referred to in any of clauses (a) to (d); (`pit bull').

CARRIED

12A Miller: I move that the definition of "pit bull," as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be amended by adding the following closing flush after clause (e):
but, despite clauses (a) to (e), does not include any dog that is registered as a purebred dog by the Canadian Kennel Club.

LOST

13 Zimmer: I move that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
(2.1) Section 1 of the act is amended by adding the following subsection:

Same

(2) In determining whether a dog is a pit bull within the meaning of this act, a court may have regard to the breed standards established for Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers or American pit bull terriers by the Canadian Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association.

CARRIED

13A Kormos: I move that government amendment number 13, amending subsection 1(2.1), be amended by deleting the word "may" and replacing it with the word "shall."
LOST

14 Zimmer: I move that the heading immediately before section 4 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(4) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted: "Proceedings -- Part IX of the Provincial Offences Act".
CARRIED

15 Miller: I move that clause 4(1)(b) of the act, as set out in the bill, be struck out. Clause 4(1)(b) is "the dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals."
LOST

16 Miller: I'd like to move that subclause 4(1)(c)(ii) of the act, as set out in the bill, be struck out; and that is, "behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals."
LOST

17 Zimmer: I move that section 4 of the act, as amended by subsection 1(5) of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:
Standard of proof

(1.3) Findings of fact in a proceeding under this section shall be made on the balance of probabilities.

CARRIED

18 Tascona: I move that subsection 1(7) of the bill be struck out. That deals with dog behaviour posing a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.
LOST

19 Tascona: I move that subsection 1(11) of the bill be struck out. It deals with pit bulls and the breed ban, and we don't support that.
LOST

20 Tascona: I move that subsections 4(8) and (9) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(12) of the bill, be struck out. My comments are the same that we used with respect to the previous amendment, because we're dealing with mandatory orders with respect to pit bull destruction.
LOST

21 Zimmer: I move that section 4 of the act, as amended by subsection 1(12) of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:
Onus of proof, pit bulls

(10) If it is alleged in any proceeding under this section that a dog is a pit bull, the onus of proving that the dog is not a pit bull lies on the owner of the dog.

CARRIED

22 Tascona: I move that clause 1(13)(b) of the bill be struck out. Once again, it's dealing with dog behaviour posing a menace to the safety of persons.
LOST

24 Zimmer: I move that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
(13.1) The act is amended by adding the following section:

Precautions by dog owners

Owner to prevent dog from attacking

5.1 The owner of a dog shall exercise reasonable precautions to prevent it from, (a) biting or attacking a person or domestic animal; or (b) behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.

CARRIED

25 Kormos: I move that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
(13.1) The act is amended by adding the following sections:

Duty of dog owner

Spaying, neutering

5.2 (1) The owner of a dog shall ensure that the dog is spayed or neutered.

Exception

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of a dog licensed or registered as a show dog or as a breed dog.

LOST

26 Tascona: Tascona: I move that sections 6 to 11 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. Each one of those provisions specifically deals with the pit bull ban.
LOST

27 Tascona: I move that clause 13(3)(b) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. This deals with the warrant provisions, specifically dealing with a dog that's behaved in a manner on more than one occasion that is menacing conduct.
LOST

28 Tascona: I move that subclause 13(3)(c)(ii) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. It's dealing with the warrant provisions again and the dog behaving in a manner that is posing a menace.
LOST

29 Tascona: I move that clauses 13(3)(d) and (e) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. That's dealing with the warrant provisions again, and specifically dealing with the pit bull breed ban.
LOST

30 Tascona: I move that clause 15(1)(b) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. This deals with the seizure of a dog in a public place and deals specifically with the dog's behaviour posing a menace to a person or a domestic animal.
LOST

31 Tascona: I move that subclause 15(1)(c)(ii) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. This deals with seizure in a public place and the conduct of a dog behaving in a manner that poses a menace.
LOST

32 Tascona: I move that clauses 15(1)(d) and (e) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. It deals with seizure in a public place, dealing specifically with the pit bull breed ban.
LOST

33 Kormos: I move that subsection 18(3) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
Offence of absolute liability

(3) An individual owner of a dog that bites or attacks a person or domestic animal is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or both.

Same

(4) A corporation that owns a dog that bites or attacks a person or domestic animal is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $60,000.

Order for compensation or restitution

(5) If a person is convicted of an offence under this act, the court making the conviction may, in addition to any other penalty, order the person convicted to make compensation or restitution in relation to the offence.

LOST

34 Zimmer: I move that the heading preceding section 19 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
Identification of pit bull

19(1) A document purporting to be signed by a member of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario stating that a dog is a pit bull within the meaning of this act is receivable in evidence in a prosecution for an offence under this act as proof, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the dog is a pit bull for the purposes of this act, without proof of the signature and without proof that the signatory is a member of the college.

Immunity

(2) No action or other proceeding may be instituted against a member of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario for providing, in good faith, a document described in subsection (1).

Onus of proof

(3) For greater certainty, this section does not remove the onus on the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

CARRIED

35 Tascona: We move that section 19 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. This is dealing with the reverse-onus provision.
LOST

36 Tascona: I move that section 20 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
Regulations

20(1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make such regulations as the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable for the purpose of effectively carrying out the intent and purposes of this act.

Same

(2) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,
(a) ensuring that municipalities have the resources they require to enable them to provide effective municipal dog control in the interests of public safety;
(b) providing for the development and implementation of a comprehensive program, including education, training and other measures, to encourage responsible dog ownership;
(c) providing for the development and implementation of a comprehensive dog bite prevention strategy to encourage dog owners to take all reasonable steps to prevent their dogs from biting persons or domestic animals;
(d) providing for the establishment and operation of a province-wide dog bite registry."
LOST

ACCEPT SECTION 1 AS AMENDED
CARRIED



SECTION 2

37 Tascona: I move that subsections 2(2) to (5) of the bill be struck out. This is dealing with the Animals for Research Act in specific reference to the pit bull breed extinction.
LOST

ACCEPT SECTION 2 UNAMENDED
CARRIED



SECTION 3 AND SECTION 4 - NO AMENDMENTS

ACCEPT SECTION 3 AND SECTION 4 UNAMENDED
CARRIED



ACCEPT TITLE OF THE BILL: "BILL 132 AS AMENDED"
CARRIED



ACCEPT BILL 132 AS AMENDED
CARRIED

REPORT BILL 132 TO THE HOUSE AS AMENDED
CARRIED



FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Our minds are made up - don't confuse us with the facts

Read the rest of this article

We told you so!

Caveat has hit the nail on the head (again) in an article so subtly entitled DUDES, YOUR STUPID BAN ISN'T WORKING!

Every one of these problems was predicted BY EXPERTS during Ontario's sham committee hearings on Bill 132.

Can you say, "we told you so"?

Read the rest of this article

September 27, 2006

Phantom "pit bulls" in Sudbury

Here we go again with another article from the Sudbury Star. What is it with this newspaper? Have they forgotten that they're supposed to be reporting the news, not making it up as they go along just to fill in space?

This is the second dog attack incident in two weeks that the Sudbury Star has rushed to report as a "pit bull", only to discover that the dog was NO SUCH THING! You can read my comments about the first incident here and here.

Ignoring, for the purposes of this discussion, that no breed of dog can be identified as a "pit bull", we can certainly assume from this story that the reporter intends to insinuate that the dog is one of the breeds targeted by the Ontario government.

Where on earth did she get that idea? Who identified this dog's breed?

This is another example of a reporter who, in a frenzy to report a "pit bull" attack, madly repeats the first words that come out of people's mouths, without any attempt whatsoever to verify their reliability.

A ten-year-old girl, for Pete's sake, described the dog as "looking like Don Cherry's dog". Any self-respecting dog owner who's seen Don Cherry with his dog on TV would recognize it as a Bull Terrier, a unique purebred dog that was specifically excluded by Attorney General Michael Bryant from his definition of "pit bull".

In fact, in his press conference filled with falsehoods, discrepancies, and fantasy, the Attorney General of the largest province in the country made it clear that he was keeping the Bull Terrier off the list in order not to enrage Don Cherry himself. Little did he know that Don Cherry would still be enraged and would be fully supportive of the constitutional challenge to Bryant's legislation.

How, in God's name, is it possible that a ten-year-old, in the middle of the insanity of one dog attacking another, can accurately identify the breed of the attacking dog and an adult reporter, with every investigative and journalistic tool available to her, cannot?

The phrase "pit bull" blinds many people, especially journalists. It drives them to "get the story", no matter what. It goads them into asking leading questions, making assumptions, and misinterpreting responses that, in any other circumstance, in any other story, would not only be unacceptable journalism, but would be called tabloidism or even fiction.

Look at this story.

The dog is initially described, ONCE, as "an apparent pit bull". This is the only phrase you need in order to know that the reporter does not actually have a clue what the dog is. The purpose of including the word "apparent" is purely to PROTECT HER ASS, while allowing her to delve into utter speculation for the rest of the story.

Throughout the rest of the article, the reporter (her name is Laura Stradiotto, by the way) doesn't even pretend to be tentative about the breed. The dog is now a "pit bull" and she has no qualms about calling it that for the entire story.

The headline screams "Pit bull". Six times, the phrase is used in the story.

Guess what, Ms. Stradiotto? Guess what, Sudbury Star?

YOU WERE WRONG! AGAIN!

Turns out the dog WAS a Bull Terrier and the ten-year-old was right!

Now what?

When is the Sudbury Star going to apologize, in writing as big as the originals, for two articles with significantly incorrect and misleading information in them?

What will the editors, and the reporter, say to all the responsible "pit bull" owners who now have to endure even more verbal abuse for walking their dogs on Sudbury's streets because readers believe that story?

You want to be a REAL journalist? Here are some tips:

1. Get the FACTS.
2. Report EVERYTHING you know to be true.
3. Report ONLY what you know to be true.
4. DON'T GUESS AT THE REST!

Read the rest of this article

September 26, 2006

SEARCH & RESCUE dog not allowed in Ontario

An American recently visited Ontario to vacation and to train with his SEARCH & RESCUE American Pit Bull Terrier. This gentleman called Canada Customs prior to his visit and was assured that he could bring his dog into Ontario or vacation in Ontario with his dog as long as he complied with the leash and muzzle requirements.

This error by Canada Customs could have cost the life of his dog and he could have faced fines of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to six months.

After returning home and discussing the issue with Canadian dog owners, he wrote a letter to the Attorney General of Ontario, requesting clarification.

Here is an excerpt from the response from the Attorney General's office.

(Emphasis mine)

Dear Mr. X:

Thank you for your correspondence...

...

Except for some narrow exceptions allowing temporary entry for dog shows, importing pit bulls into Ontario is prohibited. Pit bulls not legally resident in Ontario prior to August 29, 2005, are subject to seizure. Individuals found to have imported a pit bull into Ontario will be in violation of the law and may be subject to fines and/or jail. There are no exceptions for tourists, including those simply passing through Ontario with their pit bulls. To be clear, it is this Ministry's view that individuals merely traveling through Ontario with pit bulls-even for short periods of time-would be in contravention of the DOLA.

The Ministry cannot provide opinions as to whether or not individual dogs are included in the definition of pit bull set out in DOLA. The legislation specifically indicates that a pit bull is (a) a pit bull terrier, (b) a Staffordshire bull terrier, (c) an American Staffordshire terrier, (d) an American pit bull terrier, (e) a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to those of dogs referred to in any of clauses (a) to (d). Section 1(2) of DOLA provides that when making determinations as to whether or not a dog is a pit bull within the meaning of DOLA, the courts will be able to have regard to the breed standards for Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers or American Pit Bull Terriers as established by the Canadian Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association.

Thank you for contacting the Ministry in regard to this issue.

Policy Division
Ministry of the Attorney General

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September 25, 2006

Help needed in Ontario NOW!

PLEASE FORWARD THIS INFORMATION TO ANYONE YOU WISH.

The link is http://chicobandido.blogspot.com/2006/09/help-needed-in-ontario-now.html



Ontario.

Twice the size of Texas.

Three times the size of Germany.

Five times the size of the United Kingdom.

Home to a breed-specific legislative ban covering the largest geo-political area in the world.

A ban that discriminates not by action or deed, but by physical appearance.

A ban that targets not only "pitbulls", American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers", but haunts *ANY* pure-or-crossbred canine bearing a substantial physical resemblance to one of the aforementioned. The 2004 brainchild of the province's Attorney General, Michael Bryant, the now-infamous Bill 132 was conceived as a vote-grabbing safety measure; a poorly designed and ill-appointed law geared to target the public's visceral fear of dog attacks. Implemented in August of 2005, retribution against innocent canines and their owners was swift.

Walking your pet without a muzzle now means risking seizure without warrant. Visitors and residents alike travelling without certified documentation face the spectre of breed (mis)-identification looming around every corner.

Pets showing natural protective tendencies within the boundaries of their home turf may now be turned in on the suspicion of being 'menacing'. This last is particularly frightening; simple barking at passers-by can be interpreted as 'threatening behaviour' by control officers with no training in either animal behaviour or breed identification. Failure to pass muster on any of the above can and will result in a one-way trip to the official's choice of humane society, pound or research facility. There are few second chances.

This ban has raised both the conscience and ire of dog lovers from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island . It's not just a 'pit-bull' issue. It's a Rottweiler issue, a Doberman issue. It's about Boxers and Bullmastiffs, Bull Terriers, Neapolitan Mastiffs and Boston Terriers, Great Danes and Vizslas... are you surprised? These are but a handful of breeds that have come under scrutiny and endured public censure following the implementation and subsequent over-broad interpretation of A.G. Bryant's Bill.

From the beginning, concerned groups and individuals questioned the feasibility of a legal challenge - a challenge directed at the violation of constitutional rights, yet still allowing for the punishment of those who willfully put animals and people in harm's way. Prominent trial and constitutional lawyer Clayton Ruby was immediately retained.

With the help of the American Staffordshire Terrier Club of Canada, the Golden Horseshoe American Pit Bull Terrier Club, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Canada and Advocates for the Underdog, a coalition was formed including the Dog Legislation Council of Canada and aptly named "Banned-Aid". This group was to play a prominent role in the ensuing months, bringing the plight of Ontario's dogs to those who otherwise might never have considered the gravity of the situation. Their determination paid off; the spring of 2006 saw a trial date set, and on May 15th, 16th and 18th, Justice T. Herman heard final arguments from both sides in Ontario's Superior Court.

The battle, however, is not quite over. Government-initiated delays have resulted in the near-doubling of our legal fees, which have long passed initial "guesstimates" and are closing in on the 1/2 million mark. In this we are running out of time. Generous time allowances by Clayton Ruby's offices have merely slowed the inevitable, that being we *MUST* come up with $ 100,000 in two weeks' time for this case to continue.

The importance of being present to rebut this new motion cannot be overestimated. Lacking an opposing legal presence gives government lawyers carte blanche while countering from our side greatly increases the chances of any further introductions being struck down as frivolous. Ruby strongly believes this attempt to be a last-gasp 'smoke screen' effort by our opposition, carefully orchestrated to bring us to our financial knees. We cannot let this happen. If we have come this far, it is in large part due to the faith of our members, friends and allies - individuals who possess the same gritty determination hallmarking the breeds this Bill seeks to eliminate forever.

We are so very, very close. For the latest updates and news briefs, we urge you to visit the Dog Legislation Council of Canada website at:

www.doglegislationcouncilcanada.org

If you believe - as we do - that victory is a mere leash-length away, then please help by donating to the Ontario Legal Challenge of Bill 132 through the following agents:

Banned Aid Coalition - www.bannedaid.com

Send a cheque or money order payable to Banned Aid to:

Cathy Prothro
National Secretary/Treasurer - Banned Aid Coalition
351 Pleasant Street
Dartmouth NS B2Y 3S4

Mark a cheque "Banned Aid - In Trust' on the memo line; make payable to "Ruby and Edwardh" and send to:

Ruby and Edwardh
11 Prince Arthur Avenue
Toronto, ON M5R 1B2

No donation is too small, no suggestion unimportant. Each and every contribution is humbly appreciated - indeed, more than can be possibly expressed. We know the dogs this saves would thank you if they could.

Respectfully,

Banned Aid Coalition
351 Pleasant Street
Dartmouth NS B2S 3Y4
Canada

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September 22, 2006

Worthington: Objective reporting is not possible!

Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun has finally stunned me more than I thought possible.

After reading and responding to his columns in May and July, articles that I truly believe incited hatred and vigilantism towards responsible dog owners, my opinion of him as a balanced and fair journalist pretty well went out the window.

In his latest rant against the CBC, however, Worthington makes one of the most outrageous statements I have ever read. If ever there were even a glimmer of hope that he had not completely descended into tabloid fantasy, it died with this column.

"Objectivity is impossible in journalism."
— Peter Worthington - Toronto Sun - September 14, 2006
Yes, Peter Worthington believes that a journalist or reporter cannot report on the news without injecting their own personal biases.

My first thought, first question, one that Worthington does not address in any meaningful way, is "Why not?"

Why is it impossible for a journalist to report objectively, without bias? Cambridge's Dictionary of American English defines the adjective "objective" as "not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings; fair or real". The antonym is "subjective". Worthington even admits as much in the ending sentence to that same paragraph: "The reporter, subjectively, chooses what is newsworthy". He also states, "But while objectivity is impossible, fairness is attainable by all."

The definition of "objective" above includes the word "fair". They are one and the same. An objective reporter is, by definition, fair.

Judges act objectively and fairly every day. So do accountants, lawyers, tax auditors, systems analysts, business leaders, police detectives, and others. People whose occupations require them to receive, analyze, and act on facts and evidence, must, by the very nature of their jobs, be objective and fair.

I do not deny any of these people their own personal beliefs, opinions, and biases. They would not be human without them. But that is no excuse for lack of objectivity within the framework of their jobs.

What makes journalists so special? Why is Worthington so willing to allow them their subjectivity when, by all accounts, the purpose of journalism is to INFORM, not to persuade?

The Society of Professional Journalists, North America's most broad-based journalism organization with over 10,000 members, has a Code of Ethics. I quote parts of it here.
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.

Journalists should:
- Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
- Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
Clearly, the Society believes that not only are journalists capable of objectivity, but that it should be a standard towards which they should always strive.

Even though I agree with Worthington in his criticism of the CBC and in his support of Christine St-Pierre, I cannot and will not use her situation as an excuse for fatalism and lack of responsibility.

Just like everyone else in this crazy, mixed up world, journalists with character, integrity, and honesty must be objective. They are not perfect nor should we expect them to be. But they have a goal, a set of ethics, by which they try to judge every word that they write or speak.

Perhaps Worthington's attempts to justify bias and subjectivity reflect an underlying laziness, a "shrug of the shoulders", a lack of fortitude to put the time and effort into sifting through the chaffe. Perhaps this is why his earlier articles irked me. In those, it seemed to me like he just didn't care enough to even try to dig for the truth. Maybe now we know why.

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September 12, 2006

It's not my fault!

I have no intention of starting a debate as to the merits or dangers of wolf-hybrids.

That just happens to be the type of animal that bit two children in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, on Thursday. It could just as easily have been any other dog.

The word "mauled", as used in the article, might be a bit much since the young girl received three stitches and the word "gash", although undefined and unquantifiable, seems to have come into vogue as the new description of someone's injuries.

Caveat has done a good job of showing the owner's stupidity and blindness. I won't repeat that effort here.

I'd just like to point out some quotes from a second article about the same incident and let you draw your own conclusions.


The owner of what's been called a husky-wolf-cross says it's not her family's fault.
"We're not to blame. We didn't ask for this to happen," said Jeanette McIvor.
The last time her son saw the dog it was chained up in the backyard.
Mystique's owners believe she may have been protecting her offspring. She gave birth to a litter of seven puppies a few weeks ago, and two were with her when the attack happened last Thursday.
The McIvors are fighting to make sure their pet isn't put to sleep. "I really don't want that to happen. It goes against our religion," McIvor said.
Tim Dack, chief operating officer for Winnipeg's animal control agency, said the city doesn't have a wolf-hybrid ban, either. Regardless, Dack advised people not to make pets of the animals. "Evidence and studies have shown that these types of hybrid dogs can be quite difficult to handle and quite dangerous," said Dack. "When they get nasty, they get nasty."
I'll make one comment about this owner. As far as I'm concerned, when you leave a dog unsupervised where someone else, particularly a child, can get to it, you ARE at fault. Expecting other people's children to stay away from your dogs is not realistic. At least one third of all children killed by dogs in this country wandered unsupervised into chained dogs' territory or were inside that territory unsupervised. In at least another quarter to one third, dogs had broken loose from their chains or yards.

I wouldn't put a whole lot of faith in Tim Dack's description of any breed's temperament. He was one of the architect's of Winnipeg's "pit bull" ban and testified at Ontario's hearings in favour of that province's ban. The man admits that the "pit bull" has been replaced in Winnipeg by other breeds (not wolf-hybrids, by the way), even though the "pit bull" type dog was not the number one biter when that city's ban was implemented. He now seems to be an expert on wolf-hybrids.

Considering how rare a true wolf-hybrid is, I'm not sure how Mr. Dack is able to make such a blanket statement. Seems to me like he took the same words he used for "pit bulls" and just changed the breed name.

Read the rest of this article

Therapy dogs? No thanks. Not here.

This Hamilton Spectator article demonstrates the absurdity of Ontario's "pit bull" ban.

A friend of mine has a 10-year-old "pit bull" type dog who is easily one of the best dogs I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

  • He has almost no teeth left from chewing on rocks and diving for them in Lake Ontario.
  • He is people-friendly and dog-friendly. He was a leash-free park dog for his whole life.
  • He has been assaulted numerous times by human "pit bull" haters without any aggressive response from him.
  • He watched his owner be severely assaulted and did nothing (some say this is bad, but that is his temperament).
  • He has been attacked by other dogs, including having his side ripped open by a German Shepherd, without responding.
  • He is not a wimp or fearful. In fact, he's the opposite. Very proud and regal, very much in control of himself and aware of who and what he is.
  • He was a therapy dog at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and at another children's hospice. He would thread his way through IV tubes to climb up on the bed and lie down with the kids.
He can't do therapy work any more because the new legislation has created fear as well as legal and liability issues. The kids cried when he had to leave. Now, after ten years of service to his owner and his community, he has to wear a muzzle in public.

Another friend of mine has a dog that helps with developmentally handicapped children. She works for a government organization and looks after these kids in her home. She was told to get rid of her dog or lose her job. Every parent of every child wrote letters of support saying that they wanted the dog to be with their children. The organization eventually backed off, but the dog still has to be muzzled inside her house when the children are there.

A number of therapy dogs have been "ejected" from the St. John's and Therapeutic Paws programs, not because those organizations feel there's anything wrong, but because of public fear and because of an inability to get insurance companies to provide liability insurance. Somehow these dogs, that have been working so diligently and reliably with children or in retirement homes, will suddenly turn into raging monsters just because Dalton McGuinty, Michael Bryant, and their hacks say so.

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September 11, 2006

Tribute to Search and Rescue dogs

As I take a moment to reflect on the events five years ago and what's happened to our world since that moment, I'd like to pay tribute to the four-legged rescuers who save lives and give families closure, not just at that one tragedy, but on a daily basis throughout the world.

World Trade Center Dogs:

Dogs in the News

DogSpeak Public Relations

Connecticut Legal Guide's Canine SAR Tribute


Cheyenne and Dakota (Columbia Space Shuttle):

For Pits' Sake - see Kris' tribute to the SAR dogs of 9/11

Missouri Pit Bull Rescue

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What Michael really believes

Browsing back through some of the Hansard documents from the time when the Ontario Liberal government was introducing Bill 132 to the legislature, I came across a quote from Michael Bryant during the November 4, 2004 debate of Bill 132.

I grew up with big dogs -- German shepherds. We had three in our house at one time. They scared some people, there's no doubt, when they barked and someone showed up at the door. They were trained. They never attacked. They never hurt anyone.
Really, Michael, there are some days when you should have just kept your mouth shut, like the time when you thought you could "pick the pit bull" in five seconds when seasoned American Pit Bull Terrier breeders had to think carefully when viewing the same pictures!

There is a phrase in mathematics: "If A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C". You can take that one step further by saying, "If A equals B and B does not equal C, then A does not equal C".

Same goes here. The logical conclusion from Mr. Bryant's statement is that his German Shepherds (assuming that they were purebred GSD's, of course) did not attack anyone and did not hurt anyone BECAUSE THEY WERE TRAINED.

Conversely, from his own statement, we can assume that, if they had NOT been trained, it is possible that they could have attacked someone and perhaps hurt them.

Therefore, despite the fact that, on camera, Mr. Bryant has stated that German Shepherds are not dangerous dogs, his own argument leads us to conclude that those dogs were inherently dangerous and had to be trained in order to not attack or injure someone.

Now, this is not my own personal point of view about his family's dogs. They were probably really nice dogs. This is what I say we could conclude from Michael Bryant's own statement in the legislature.

Even as a dog trainer, I believe that most dogs settle into their families just fine. They may have been formally trained using traditional correction methods, they may have been formally trained using positive motivational methods such as clicker-training, or they may have been informally trained by the owner, who might have owned dogs before or who might have followed a neighbour's advice or who applied the same rules to the dog as they did to their kids.

My belief is that most dogs don't threaten or bite, very few are really dangerous, and even less bite seriously.

But, it appears that Mr. Bryant's belief is that his own family's German Shepherds would have been dangerous had they not been trained.

So, Michael, is it really the breed or is it the owner, the environment, and the training? Sounds to me like your true beliefs slipped out of hiding for a second.

Read the rest of this article

Is this lady being quoted correctly?

Further to the story of the five-year-old boy bitten on the lip by a nine-month-old "pit bull / husky cross" (whatever that is).

In my earlier article, I failed to mention an important point. I had included it in a letter to the editor of the Sudbury Star, but forgot about it when writing the more detailed analysis of the news report.

Ms. McIntyre, the mother of the boy who was bitten, had been severely injured herself when she was eleven years old. Not by a "pit bull" nor by a "pit bull / husky" cross, but, according to her own testimony, by a German Shepherd. This incident resulted in FIFTY-FOUR stitches compared to the SEVEN received by her son.

Now, keep in mind that I am always suspicious of breed identification. Any dog that is brown and black with hair longer than a Rottweiler and with remotely pointy ears is called a German Shepherd, any dog with shorter hair and bigger muscles, but still brown and black, is called a Rottweiler, and anything with a big head, very short hair, and a muscular body that's any colour other than brown and black is called a "pit bull".

How they determined "pit bull / husky cross" with any degree of reliability is anybody's guess.

So, since nobody seems to be satisified with simply calling a mutt by its real name (MUTT), we should at least call that dog a German Shepherd TYPE of dog, until such time as someone, somewhere, can prove what it was.

Ms. McIntyre is quoted as follows:

  • She is in favour of the current "pit bull" legislation;
  • She is concerned about "pit bull" owners failing to muzzle their dogs in public (even though the incident to her son happened on private property);
  • She thinks that "pit bulls" should not be around kids;
  • She questions whether or not people should own "pit bulls" at all.
Yet she was badly hurt as a child by a dog that looked like a German Shepherd, one that would not have been targeted by the current legislation.

So the questions have to be asked:
  1. Is Ms. McIntyre being quoted correctly, especially when it appears that her quoted attitude is not logical considering her own experience?
     
  2. Is she being quoted fully? Does she perhaps want ALL large dogs specially legislated? Did the reporter, Jordan Ercit, ever ask her how she feels about dogs that look like German Shepherds?
     
  3. Is the reporter choosing, perhaps from many sentences, only the phrases about "pit bulls"?
     
  4. Despite the FIFTY-FOUR stitches Ms. McIntyre received as a child to repair the damage caused by the dog that looked like a German Shepherd, she appears to have gone out of her way in this interview to say that she still did not hate dogs. Is it logical to believe that she fails to hold a similar view regarding the nine-month-old puppy that gave her son only SEVEN stitches? Is it possible that the reporter asked leading questions, expertly guiding a traumatized and nervous interviewee, one who is unfamiliar with interviewing tricks and traps, down a garden path that ends in the phrase "I think pit bulls are dangerous and should be banned"?
As an example of a similar approach, I go back to the presentations to the committee hearings on the current Ontario legislation. David Zimmer was a member of that committee and is a Michael Bryant henchman that, in my opinion, is the type of person that gives lawyers their bad reputation. It was clear that, despite the Utopian ideal that a group of committee members could be brought together to hear expert witnesses and make informed decisions based on that testimony, David Zimmer's only objective was to trap people into saying things they didn't mean and to make them look stupid.

Mr. Zimmer managed to do this to two very well respected and educated individuals who have more knowledge about dogs and dog behaviour in their little fingers than he could hope to obtain in his entire lifetime. Instead of hearing their expertise, their experience, and their suggestions, all he wanted to do was embarrass them. To those of us watching who knew anything about dogs (or about politics, for that matter) and certainly for those of us who believe in honesty, integrity, and fairness, Mr. Zimmer was the embarrassment.

The point of that digression was that even very smart, educated, and experienced people who have been in the public eye many times, on television, on radio, in newspapers, and as witnesses in court cases, can be trapped into saying something they didn't intend if expertly led down that path by an unscrupulous guide.

I would like to delve deeper into this story because it is entirely possible that we're only getting a fraction of the truth through this reporter and even that fraction may have been distorted.



FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Phantom "pit bulls" in Sudbury

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September 08, 2006

Boy survives pit bull attack - back on bike eight hours later

The headline of a recent Sudbury Star news report screams "Boy survives pit bull attack". Here are the facts that are available from the news report which, of course, doesn't mean that they're the only facts.

  • Dog is nine months old.
  • Boy is five years old.
  • Dog is owned by boy's neighbour.
  • Boy enters front door of house (after being told to do so by the CHILDREN in the house).
  • Dog jumps up and bites boy on face.
  • CHILDREN in the house get a cloth and ice for the wound.
  • Boy gets seven stitches to lip.
  • Dog is going to be killed.
Take away the inflammatory and incorrect use of the word "pit bull" in the headline and what we have left is an all-too-familiar refrain: "unsupervised young male child bitten by neighbour's unsupervised young (possibly male) dog". According to multiple research papers by professional organizations over a number of years, this is probably the most common situation in which a dog bite occurs. It doesn't have anything to do with the dog's breed, at all!

So, at the risk of repeating myself from comments about previous newspaper articles, here is my in-depth analysis of this poorly researched and sensational bit of fluff written by Jordan Ercit of the Sudbury Star.
  1. A "centimetre-long gash" (also described as "tore his lip a quarter of an inch open"). Please grab a ruler and see how long a centimetre is. While you're at it, flip the ruler around and see how long a quarter of an inch is. They're not the same, are they? On my hand, a quarter of an inch is less than the length of the fingernail on my little finger. Under what possible circumstance does this get called a "gash"? When a dog did it?
     
  2. "Boy survives pit bull attack", "gash", "mauled", "eight hours in the ER", "lunged", "tore", "ripped". My God, this sounds like the child almost died! Do me a favour, reporter, and go back and see how long the "gash" was. A centimetre, you said in one spot. A quarter of inch, you said in another sentence.
     
  3. Nine month old dog. Five year old boy. Do you think maybe this wasn't even an "attack"? Is it possible the dog just jumped up and decided to play tug-of-war with the kid's face? As horrifying and traumatizing as that experience might be, that's what happens with kids and dogs, particularly when they are BOTH unsupervised! How do I know they were unsupervised? Read the next point.
     
  4. Kyle went to his neighbour's home, knocked on the door, and was told to enter. Notice the article doesn't say who told him to enter. After the bite (and I quote), "the kids at the house were quick to react, grabbing a cloth and ice, and then rushed him to his mom". Where were the owners of the dog? Why did the kids have to get the cloth and ice and take Kyle back to his mom? BECAUSE THE OWNERS WEREN'T WITH THE DOG AND THE KIDS!
     
  5. Eight hours in the ER. Again, this sounds horrible, traumatic, scary. Wait a second. Eight hours for seven stitches? That's less than one stitch per hour. So we can pretty well assume that seven and a half of those eight hours were spent waiting, registering, explaining, reporting to police and animal control, etc, etc, etc. From my experience with Toronto hospitals, that's a little long to wait, but then it was a DOG BITE, so they probably paid a little more attention to Kyle than to the child next to him with the concussion and broken leg from skateboarding.
     
  6. The dog had never been aggressive before. Define "aggressive". Was this even aggression? Had the dog jumped on people before? On kids? Every puppy I know does that (or did until it was trained not to or grew out of it)? Did the dog chase kids and nip and even bite, all in play, fun and games? Many puppies I know do that. Did the owners discourage it? Did they talk to a professional, perhaps take the dog for training? At nine months old, if trained, he should no longer be jumping and nipping and biting.
     
  7. The dog will be put down. Make no mistake about it - this dog is being put down because of its breed. I place FULL responsibility for the death of that dog and the injuries to the child on the shoulders of the owners. This dog should not have had to die and that boy should not have had to get stitches to his face. It was unnecessary, it was foreseeable, and it was preventable. The dog and multiple children were unsupervised together.
     
  8. I'm also not too thrilled with the mother for letting her five year old go anywhere unsupervised. Too many children get hurt and killed in this country, in many circumstances other than dog bites, simply because they're not being watched.
     
  9. The dog came from a questionable environment. What does this mean? Shouldn't the reporter investigate that a little further instead of just throwing it out there? I have no idea why that's even in the article, but it certainly raises further questions about how responsible these owners really were.
     
  10. Last, but not least, the "pit bull" issue. Let's start with the descriptions and phrases used by the reporter (and perhaps by the mother, although I'm not certain that she used these exact phrases). Pit bull mix (once), pit bull-husky cross (once), pit bull (seven times). Do you think maybe this reporter has an agenda? Why the focus on "pit bulls" when one half of the dog was supposedly husky? If the reporter didn't have such tunnel vision about "pit bulls", whatever they are, a little research on dog bite related fatalities and injuries in Canada could have given this story a whole different slant. It could have been about huskies or husky crosses or sled dogs or northern dogs or farm dogs. Or it may have ended up simply being about dogs, kids, and what happens when they get together without an adult.
The reporter's final comment is a quote from the mother complaining that the pit bull legislation in Ontario is not being enforced.

"There are two pit bulls in this area that are constantly outside without muzzles. I think it is a good idea, but I don't think it is enforced."

Guess what, Ms. McIntyre? That wouldn't have helped your kid. Not one bit. The dog that bit your child was inside its own house. No muzzle required. I'm really sorry, but that legislation wouldn't have protected your child.

Point the finger upwards until you get to the human end of the leash. Oh, and look in the mirror as well. Those are the only two people who could have prevented this.



FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Is this lady being quoted correctly?

FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Phantom "pit bulls" in Sudbury

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September 05, 2006

Canadian Breeds and Restrictions

A recent article on Dog Politics discussed a proposal in New Jersey to require all "pit bull" owners to be photographed, pay an extra registration fee, and have signficant personal information recorded in a central database.

I have been going through all the bylaws and ordinances for many cities and towns throughout Canada, including a number that restrict or prohibit certain breeds. Below is a summary of the various types of restrictions or prohibitions I have found.

Keep in mind two things:

1. These are ONLY in Canada.
2. Every one of these restrictions or prohibitions is BY BREED.


Mobility Restrictions

  • 3 ft leash

  • muzzle

  • muzzle/leash in vehicle

  • minimum age of person walking the dog

  • enclosed pen (with top and sides and lock) or tethered with a chain

  • crate or pen the dog if children under 14 are in the house

  • not allowed in off-leash dog parks

  • automatically declared dangerous or vicious
Ownership Restrictions
  • limit on number of dogs

  • dogs from out-of-town not allowed in town

  • in some towns, no grandfather clause - all existing dogs must leave immediately

  • non-transferable licence (no transfer of ownership allowed)
Owner Tracking and Registration
  • mandatory microchip

  • mandatory spay/neuter

  • mandatory immunization for rabies (specifically listed for restricted breeds)

  • special "restricted or dangerous dog" licence (with a higher annual fee)

  • special application fee

  • must apply in person with dog

  • signed and sworn statement that dog is legal and that the dog you are applying for is the dog you are with

  • photograph taken by Animal Control Officer

  • notification of change of address, change of ownership, death of dog

  • special dog tag

  • no replacement for special dog tag (unlike regular dog tags) - must apply for new licence

  • warning sign on premises

  • one million dollars liability insurance

  • visiting dogs required to register with city and pay a registration fee
Penalties
  • higher penalties for noncompliance

  • entry/seizure without warrant specifically allowed for certain breeds

  • law can be enforced by ANY town employee, not just law enforcement or animal control

  • owner is responsible for all kenneling costs after impounding
Destruction of Dogs
  • town will not return impounded dog (regardless of reason for impounding)

  • destroy prohibited breeds on sight with no notification to owner

  • mandatory death of dog if owner fails to comply

  • mandatory death of puppies if discovered

  • owner is responsible for cost of destroying the dog

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© Copyright 2007 Steve Barker