December 18, 2007

Sad, angry, and frustrated

The pit bull puppy in my earlier story Animal cruelty and the Ontario government is now on her way to be cremated. She died this morning at the vet's office.

She never left the vet's office from the time my friend brought her in, torn and bleeding from a barbed wire "collar".

Her body simply gave out. She had spleen problems, probably from being kicked so hard or so much. She had a bladder infection, as well as infection in the neck wounds. Apparently, there were other things wrong as well, too much and too many for her five-month-old body to handle.

The man who was to be this pup's final home is still going to take her, along with the remains of his old boy who is going to be put down tomorrow after living a long and happy life.

So this little girl, nameless to the end, becomes just another statistic in this war on dogs. But not in my heart, nor in the hearts of her rescuers.

There are so many of these stories, so many of these dogs.

I want so much to blame the Ontario Liberal government for this dog's death, and perhaps there is some part of this tragedy that can be pointed at them. Certainly, the "pit bull ban", and the fear it created in this dog's rescuer with its insistence on killing unoffending, non-biting dogs, is the reason these owners were able to walk away and the reason they'll be free to get another dog tomorrow.

But the reality is that, no matter what laws are in place, dogs will always be dying because of stupid, irresponsible, negligent, or just plain abusive owners.

I blame the breeder who created and sold this little girl to live her entire life in pain and fear.

I blame the dog's owners for taking out their hatred of the world on a dog that wouldn't fight back.

I hope I run into them one day.

I really do.

Nobody knew this girl's name, so I think I'll call her Dolores (sorrow, pain).

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December 17, 2007

Another great tribute to the Dog

When I found Eulogy on the Dog, I felt that I had found one of the best descriptions of dog's devotion to man.

Now, I have been sent this wonderful piece, which is more about man's devotion to dog, after his dog has died. It is written for a setter, but is applicable to all.

We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub is an excellent place to bury a good dog. Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorous bone, or lifted his head to challenge some intruder. These are good places in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else. For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture lane where most exhilarating cattle graze, it is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, nothing is lost, if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.

If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call - come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death and down the well remembered path and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they shall not growl at him, or resent his coming, for he is yours and belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing. The one best place to bury a good dog is the heart of his master.

Courtesy of Kris K.

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December 15, 2007

Animal cruelty and the Ontario government

I am hesitant to write this article because the dog in question appears to be of the "pit bull" type. I appreciate the sympathy that such stories generate. I am also aware that this type of incident might encourage an image of "pit bull" owners as abusive drug addicts.

It is not my intention to highlight the abuse, horrific as it is. Nor is it my intention to stereotype the owner, although there are similar dog owners out there. Nor is it my intention to focus on the breed as the reason for the abuse or as the reason for the article.

The case of Michael Vick, and others like it, seems to confirm the opinion of the uneducated public that there is something different about these dogs, that only these types of dogs endure this, that only these types of dogs are owned by idiots.

I want to stress that I have seen similar atrocities committed against all types of dogs, by all types of owners. This is not just a "pit bull" problem.

The difference, in this case, is that, because the dog is illegal in Ontario, the Ontario Dog Owners' Liability Act (also known as the "pit bull" ban) prevented appropriate action by the rescuers, threatened the wrong people, and protected the abusers.

Recently, a friend of mine was walking at mid-morning in a park in Toronto. The friend's name shall remain private. The name of the park and the date shall also remain private to avoid identification of my friend and of the veterinary clinic.

A young couple, approximately 20 years old, one male, one female, were in this park. The temperature was approximately -4 Celsius with a -9 wind chill (25 F, 16F). This couple were wearing T-shirts and were barefoot.

My friend's description of them included the phrase "seriously whacked out on something", particularly the man.

With the couple was a dog. The dog appeared to be a female pit bull type, approximately four to five months old. Around the dog's neck was barbed wire fencing, attached to a chain. The snow around the dog was bright red.

The man was lifting the dog into the air by the chain (and hence by the barbed wire "collar"), yelling at her, punching her and kicking her. Blood was pouring out of holes in the dog's neck.

My friend, who has seen many injured dogs, described the screams of the dog as "nothing like I've ever heard before".

My friend intervened, attempting to persuade the young man to stop. He turned his attention to my friend, who was then physically assaulted and knocked down on three separate occasions. Finally, my friend turned to the young girl and offered money for the dog, which was accepted.

As a final gesture before leaving, the young man opened his pants zipper and proceeded to urinate on the dog, with some of the urine entering the holes in the dog's neck. This generated further screams from the animal.

The couple walked away, sans dog, but eighty dollars richer.

Now, my friend is standing in the middle of a Toronto park with a seriously injured, probably dying, dog. What next?

Can't call the police. Couldn't even have called the police earlier prior to intervening. Can't call the Toronto Humane Society or the SPCA. Can't call Toronto Animal Services.

Why not?

Because the dog is illegal in Ontario and any involvement by authorities pretty well guarantees the death of the dog.

Any pit bull type dog born in Ontario after November 26 2005 must either be adopted (by Animal Services) outside of Ontario (not much chance of that), sold to a "research facility", or killed.

There are no other options.

So my friend took a cab, with a bleeding dog, to a veterinary clinic (which shall remain nameless). The surgery cost $500 (forty stitches) and, with the subsequent medications and follow-up medical care, the total bill will easily top $1,000.

My friend also found a home for this dog in northern Ontario, with someone whose dog had recently died of old age and who will care lovingly for this dog for the rest of her life. That person must also remain nameless.

Here are the laws that were broken in this incident.

The young people abusing the dog:

Criminal Code of Canada, Section 446 - Cruelty to Animals.

The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Own an illegal pit bull.

The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Breed a pit bull.

The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Transfer a pit bull by sale.
The original rescuer:
The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Transfer a pit bull by sale.

The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Own an illegal pit bull (including fail to transfer the pit bull to the pound for "disposition").

The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Transfer an illegal pit bull by gift.

Criminal Code of Canada - Failure to report animal abuse.
The veterinary clinic:
The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Own an illegal pit bull (including fail to transfer the pit bull to the pound for "disposition").

The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Transfer an illegal pit bull by gift.

Criminal Code of Canada - Failure to report animal abuse.
The final rescuer and home for the dog:
The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Own an illegal pit bull (including fail to transfer the pit bull to the pound for "disposition").

The Dog Owners' Liability Act, Section 6 - Transfer an illegal pit bull by gift.

City Bylaw - Fail to register the dog with the city.

Criminal Code of Canada - Failure to report animal abuse.
The original rescuer must remain nameless in this article for fear of prosecution under the Ontario Dog Owners' Liability Act.

The park name and the date and time of the incident must remain private to avoid identification of the rescuer and of the veterinary clinic for fear of prosecution under the Ontario Dog Owners' Liability Act.

The veterinary clinic must remain nameless in this article for fear of prosecution under the Ontario Dog Owners' Liability Act.

The final rescuer and home for this dog must remain nameless in this article for fear of prosecution under the Ontario Dog Owners' Liability Act.

I can assume that I also am party to all these law-breaking activities, since I know the names of everyone involved (except the abusers).

On the other hand, the original abusers walk away, not only richer, but without fear of animal cruelty charges, because, in order to charge these people with animal cruelty, the dog would have been seized under the Dog Owners' Liability Act and killed.

Oh, and one more thing. They can get another dog tomorrow.

Does this make sense to anyone except Dalton McGuinty and Michael Bryant?

UPDATE DECEMBER 18: Sad, angry and frustrated

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