Killing puppies because they can
Further to my earlier story regarding the confiscated mother and puppies in Sarnia.
The following letter was issued today by the president of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada. Permission was given to distribute widely.
ALERT: CROSS POST PLEASE TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!June 15, 2007 1:30 PM EDT
On June 6, 2007 animal control officers in Sarnia, Ontario seized a mother dog and her three 7-week old puppies from the home of Brian Edwards Jr. and Cassie Bates.
The dogs’ offence? Solely that an animal control officer identified them as “pit bulls” under the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act (“DOLA”). This breed identification has subsequently and conveniently been changed by the authorities; the puppies and mother are now claimed to be Staffordshire bull terriers or have the appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar.
According to the owners, the dogs in question are neither.
On March 23, 2007 Madam Justice Thea Herman, a judge of the Ontario Superior Court, issued a decision that we understand renders the DOLA classifications “pit bull” and “pit bull terrier” unconstitutionally vague. If our understanding is correct, the seizure of the mother and her pups on the basis that they are “pit bulls” would have been unconstitutional.
As for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier identification, there is no proof of that breed identification. It is merely the word of an animal control officer, not a breed expert. The mother dog is not a registered Staffordshire Bull Terrier; she does not have registration papers, a microchip or an identifying tattoo.
At the time of the dogs’ removal from their home, the owners stated they were given two options: hand the mom and her puppies over, or be charged because the dogs were not licensed and the female is not spayed.
This is a scare tactic frequently used by animal control officers to intimidate those who do not know the law into giving up their property – their dogs – without the municipality having to deal with the inconvenience and expense of a court case. This scare tactic unfortunately often works. Of course, threats of pepper spray and arrest work just as well. That’s what happened when Brian approached the animal control van to calm the mother dog.
On June 13th, the media reported that these dogs were given a stay of execution.
On that same day, however, the City of Sarnia issued a letter stating that “the pound operator will exercise certain options set out in Section 20(7.4) of the Animals for Research Act,R.S.O. 1990 ( the “ARA”).” Four options were cited. Only one allows the dogs to live.
The ARA specifically states that the puppies and their mom can be safely transferred to a person who is resident outside Ontario.
Knowing of this option, Advocates for the Underdog, a well known and respected rescue, has offered at their own cost to take this task upon themselves.
The Advocates offer was declined by Sarnia pound officials.
The City Solicitor for Sarnia has filed documents claiming that the seven-week old puppies and their mother pose “a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals”.
Therefore, under the provisions cited, the City of Sarnia has decided that the mother dog and her puppies will be killed.
Not only does Sarnia animal control apparently not understand the law that they are supposed to be enforcing, but the Sarnia legal department also apparently does not have a clear understanding of the law.
Or perhaps they understand it too well. Could it be that the Ontario Attorney General’s office is once again wielding the same bloody pen used to write Ontario’s breed-specific legislation? One has to wonder why the Ontario government’s highly paid constitutional lawyers, who presented during the recent Superior Court case, sat in on less well-known municipal cases pertaining to “pit bulls”. One also has to wonder why the City of Sarnia has recently announced that it will be performing door-to-door checks on all homes for the presence of dogs.
The constitutional challenge to DOLA is back in court for the remedy hearing at the end of this month. Until that time, it is our understanding that this law is in limbo and subject to misinterpretation and mistakes.
Without judicial clarification, it is hard to see how the City of Sarnia can justify the killing of innocent puppies. One would think that prudence would cause the City to put a moratorium on further actions until the courts clarify whether the law is enforceable.
One would also believe that any municipality or agent of the municipality that destroys the property of a citizen under DOLA before the final ruling is made, may well find themselves legally liable for those actions.
The back-door legal tactic used by the City of Sarnia to kill unoffending puppies and their mother should be seen by all dog owners as a purely vindictive measure. The classification of “substantially similar physical characteristics” could easily be applied to tens of thousands of Ontario dogs.
The City of Sarnia, of which animal control is an agency, is not (as claimed by one city councillor) just “acting on provincial law”. The City of Sarnia, of which animal control is an agency, has made its own decision to kill these dogs.
There is a huge gray area of options, some of which are within DOLA and others that do not require the use of that particular law. Killing these dogs is not required or mandated.
The DLCC asks that you take five minutes from your day and write, call or fax the members of Sarnia City Council. You don’t have to live in Sarnia, or even in Canada, to write the mayor and councillors.
Ask that they allow these dogs to live and be placed in the competent, caring hands of the Advocates for the Underdog. If you wish to see the correspondence from the City of Sarnia to the lawyers for Brian Edwards Jr., please visit the DLCC website:
The next meeting of Sarnia City Council is scheduled for Monday, June 25th, 2007
Mayor: MIKE BRADLEY
255 N. Christina Street
Sarnia, ON N7T 7N2
Phone: 519 332-0330 ext.312
TTY#: 519 332-2664
Fax: 519 332-3995
155 N. Front Street, Apt. #705
Sarnia ON N7V 7V5
City and County Councillor: DAVE BOUSHY
1413 Lakeshore Road
Sarnia ON N7S 2M3
Home: 519 542-3109
Fax: 519 542-0868
City and County Councillor: JIM FOUBISTER
1937 Buena Ventura
Brights Grove ON N0N 1C0
Home: 519 869-4701
Fax: 519 869-8625
City and County Councillor: BEV MACDOUGALL
228 Maria Street
Sarnia ON N7T 4T1
Home: 519 344-0768
Business: 519 344-5543
Fax: 519 332-0916
City and County Councillor: ANNE MARIE GILLIS
65 Ashby Crescent
Sarnia ON N7S 4L5
Home: 519 542-9728
Business: 519 542-0554
Fax: 519 542-0554
City Councillor: ANDY BRUZIEWICZ
665 Stonecrest Avenue
Sarnia ON N7V 2K3
P.O. Box 2373
Sarnia ON N7T 7S6
Business: 519 332-2639
Fax: 519 337-7855
City Councillor: JON MCEACHRAN
978 London Road
Sarnia ON N7S 1N7
Home: 519 337-7200
Business: 519 383-7200
Fax: 519 383-7800
City Councillor: MIKE KELCH
324 Tawny Road
Sarnia ON N7S 5J6
Home: 519 542-5682
Business: 519 339-4003
Fax: 519 542-8827
City Councillor: TERRY BURRELL
954 Champlain Road
Brights Grove ON N7V 2G2
Home: 519 542-8826
Business: 519 336-5545
Fax: 519 336-2130
Please copy your correspondence to the Sarnia City Solicitor:
City Solicitor/Clerk – Brian W. Knott
255 N. Christina Street
Sarnia ON N7T 7N2
Phone: 519-332-0330 ext 262
Phone: 519-332-0330 ext 263
TTY#: 519 332-2664
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