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

-- END --


7 comments:

kcdogblog said...

Thanks for sharing this story. I love how someone who pays someone $80 to get a dog that is being captive on a barbed wire "collar" and pays $500 for vet bills is a criminal. And worse, is there's a decent chance that if convicted, they would have at least as harsh of a penalty as the orignal owners. They should be classified as a flippin' hero.

Caveat said...

You know, I don't think they would have walked away if I'd seen this.

They would have crawled.

Social Mange said...

Thanks for exposing this, chicobandido. This province has been surreal since 2003.

Is it too much to hope that those two vicious creatures got caught and buried in today's snowstorm?

There should be some justice.

Bless that dog's rescuer for having the guts and heart to help that dog.

Social Mange said...

Aside from the absurdity that the rescuers and the tortured dog would receive stiffer penalties than the abusers...

What happens when these two morons breed, as they eventually will?

Guess we'll be reading about another child dying at its parents' hands.

Thanks, Fibs. This is ever so good for public safety.

Mac`s Gang said...

I wonder if there is any mainstream media out there that has the cojones to publish this story?

Maybe if you threw something in about the "Pit" type dog turning and grinning or looking sideways at his abuser as he was led away by the rescuer.

I`m sure they could parlay that into "menacing behaviour"

How about it London Free Press?

Anonymous said...

As a law enforecement officer, and someone who has worked closely with humane societies, the OSPCA, and animal control, I can safely say that they all enforce the pit bull legislation with common sense. None of them agree with the ban and none of them are eager to charge responsible dog owners under it. I'm confident in stating that in this case, none of the innocent parties involved would have been charged. Just because an officer is technically able to charge someone doesn't mean they actually do. That's where common sense comes in.

Fayclis said...

I am truly sorry to hear the little Pit girl did not make it though her terrible ordeal. However I am grateful beyond words that during the final days/hours of her abused life someone thought enough to show her that SHE did matter, that she did deserve respect. Someone cared enough to defend her. Someone put gentle arms around her and gave her a hint of love and a sense of dignity. I feel sorry for the family that now will never experiance and know the wonderful unconditional love the little pit girl pit could have given them. I am grateful for the angel friend that showed up in the park that day. This story broke my heart.

 
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