Thursday, December 18, 2008

Animals in Canada need your help more than ever!

Animals in Canada need your help more than ever!

Many of you may have signed previous Animal Cruelty Petitions and may remember our last Canada wide Stop Animal Cruelty C-373 Petition presented to Parliament which garnered 111,896 sig’s!

To date, well over 150,000 sig’s have been gathered and yet the Gov’t continues to ignore our wishes!

C-373 had the support of ALL NDP, most LIB’s, Bloc and Green. Only the Conservatives went against what in recent polls approx 90% of Cdns support and have been asking for, effective animal cruelty legislation!

After many previous letters to constituents stating the opposite, the Conserv ALL voted for useless S-203 which we asked them NOT to support in lieu of effective C-373.

With our new Govt about to get back to work, it’s more important now than ever to let them know we’re not settling for a placebo Bill like S-203 and that we will cont to fight for effective legislation based on C-373!

Again we were so close to passing these much needed changes after more than a century of wasted time and debates! Everytime an election is called or Parliament is prorogued, ALL Bills are dropped and we have no choice but to start over!

Please know that we and animals all across Canada appreciate your support on past petitions, but once again due these events in our Govt we need your help!

Thousands more animals have recently suffered due to Parliaments inaction, when will it be enough!? Our voices have to be louder than ever to get these much needed changes so please help how you can!

Please Print this NEW Petition!

Gather as many sig’s as you can and return to address on bottom by June 30/09! THANK YOU!

Can’t sign the paper petition? Then try the online version found here..

PLEASE NOTE! Paper and ink petitions are way more effective and carry much more weight in the House of Commons! The online petition is in support of the legal paper petition so that our animal friends from around the world can also have their voices heard!

Canadian residents over 18, please be sure to print, sign and send in paper petition as well if at all possible!

Don't forget to write, call or email your MP! More info here..

Letters to editors help also and are a great way to spread awareness! More info can be seen here..

Wordpress- Stop Animal Cruelty in Canada

Facebook group- Stop Animal Cruelty in Canada with Bill C-373

Facebook cause- Stop animal cruelty in Canada with effective legislation!

Please help protect animals in Canada from neglect and abuse by taking a moment to have your voices heard!

Please help spread the word and pass this message and petition/rally info on! We need all your support to get this done! Thanx for supporting effective animal cruelty legislation in Canada!

Daisy-Duke, dog who was beaten with a shovel, had legs and mouth duct-taped, put in a bag, tied 2 a rope, towed behind vehicle and left for dead before she was finally found and euthanized.

Please attend IMPORTANT animal cruelty protest in Didsbury- Wed Dec 17th!!

REMINDER! There is a VERY IMPORTANT RALLY happening on Dec 17th!
9:30am - 12:00pm
Didsbury Courthouse
1611 - 15 Ave
Didsbury, AB

This is the last and final protest against Haskett! This case has been going on for almost 2 1/2 yrs and Haskett will finally be sentenced. His friend previously received probation and a spank for his part in Daisy-Duke's death.

She was beaten with a shovel, had legs and mouth duct-taped, put in a bag, tied to a rope and towed around Didsbury until she fell off. A young girl found her, called the vet, and she was immediately euthanized.

Haskett better get the max for this horrific death of the family dog, which sadly, will probably be a slap.

We need EVERYONE to attend if possible on Wed Dec 17th in Didsbury!

We need to NOT let this dog be forgotten and show why we need these laws in place! If people were actually punished for these terrible acts, perhaps they would be deterred, esp before they start on human crimes!

It's goin to be cold, about -15, so dress warm and bring all your friends who agree that animal cruelty needs to be prevented w effective legislation! Please attend this very important last court date and have your voices heard! We need to make sure the Govt doesnt forget again- why we need animal cruelty laws that work!!

This will also be the official NEW petition launch, a variety of animal groups will be there and we hope you are too!! We need a big rally to help spread awareness on the issue to the public, show the Govt we're not giving up even though they do, and at the same time, hopefully media will help us get the word out about the new petition, update people on what happened with the last Canada wide one and why we need your help again!!


Media please contact:

Heather McClure Anderson (D.A.I.S.Y. Foundation) 403-475-0120

Tamara Chaney (Stop Animal Cruelty w C-373 Daisy-Duke Petition Initiator) 403-335-8152

Paula James (Stop Animal Cruelty in Canada with Bill C-373/effective legislation) 403-928-5369

Friday, December 05, 2008

If Looks Could Kill

I spoke to a woman only the other day that has owned a Boxer X for 7 years. This year ACC changed her dogs breed to Pit bull.

Suddenly she had to get her dog micro chipped with proof, show original proof of rabies, original spay receipt, 2 pictures to show markings of her dog, fill out the inquiry form with description, age, province or non-province born, etc. and appear in person with all this proof before being allowed a Pit bull license, which is a higher rate than other dogs.

She now has to muzzle and leash her dog at all times in public and abide by the Pit bull Law. To us, the dog looks like a Boxer, but ACC says other wise and can change your dogs breed as easily as that and at any time.

With Canada fallen on hard times and in turmoil, the cities have to get their money wherever possible. After all, the Ontario Liberal government has cities and towns flipping the bill for all the expenses and burdons it takes to enforce the ban in their cities.

I expect ACC in Ontario will be changing many dogs breeds for the extra money the licences bring in. I also wonder if a younger mutt gets changed to Pit bull, does it become illegal and put to death because of age?

She (the dogs owner) is now bound under the law that if her dog does anything against the law or by hear say, she can pay a fine up to $10,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail and her dog killed.

If you own a purebred, you better have the proper papers to prove it, otherwise your dog is in danger too no matter at how hard you argue. That would be the majority of pet store dogs which many aren't aware come from puppy mills at extraordinary prices. Yes! Your amazing, hilarious purebred Jack Russel Terrier that you paid $700 for, but no papers to prove it, could turn out to be a Pit bull.

Of course, just like the Pit bulls, parliament might decide to ban all dogs 20 pounds or more. Yes, that has also been suggested in council.

Are you wondering now about your own dog or someone you know? Read the post.

If Looks Could Kill

Remember the old saying, "If Looks Could Kill"?

These days in Ontario, they can and do.

Do you own a short-coated dog with a boxy snout?

Is he brindle, white, brown or red?

Then you may very well own an Ontario "pit bull".

Everything from Boston Terriers to Great Danes, purebred or mixed, have been identified by those enforcing the Dog Owners Liability Act (DOLA) as "pit bulls".

Due to the anxiety and confusion this law has created, many national breed clubs have asked for official exemptions from Ontario's Attorney General. In fact, people are writing to the Attorney General before they get a dog to make sure they are making a safe choice.

For owners of mixed breed dogs (in other words, most people), the confusion means that they are unaware of how this ban directly affects them. After all, there is no valid method to test the breeding of a mix and there is nothing the law that says how you prove your dog is not a "pit bull" - yet the onus is on you, the dog owner, to do just that.

The latest decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal states that if even a tiny risk exists, it is the responsibility of government to regulate it by whatever means possible - even if this means exterminating it.

In restoring the law to its original form, the Justices told all Canadians that despite credible research and evidence proving otherwise, the mythology surrounding the "pit bull" is taken at face value by our courts.

In other words, uneducated opinions, gossip and hearsay from any source (such as news reports) can be used to prove anything - and worse, such flimsy evidence can influence our rights and freedoms in all aspects of our lives.

Do you now see that this not just about dogs anymore?

In the words of Clayton Ruby,"According to the Court of Appeal, so long as the government puts forth some evidence in support of its legislative decision, regardless of its credibility, reliability or value, it cannot lose. And it's not just about dogs anymore. This ruling, if left unchallenged, will become case law and as such can be applied to anything, from dogs to donkeys."

Ultimately this means that the life of every dog and every breed is just a pen stroke away from extinction. All it will take is a little bad press.

We refuse to quit. We must take this case to the Supreme Court of Canada so that dog (and all property) owners can take back control of their and their dogs' lives.

But we have a problem...In order to move forward, significant financial obligations must be met. The Banned Aid Coalition must raise $100,000.00 within two weeks in order to pay for the outstanding costs to date and to finalize our application to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The DLCC and Banned Aid Coalition firmly believe in the importance of this cause. We are prepared to carry this burden farther but we need your help. Don't sit this one out because the future of dog ownership, if not all property ownership, is what's at stake.

Many have stepped up to help us along the way but we are again in a crunch for time and money. Please join dog owners and others from across our great country in standing up for fair and equal treatment for all.

Most of all, stand up for your best and only friend, your beautiful dog. He is depending on your help during his darkest hour.

Thanks to everyone for your ongoing support. Together, we can win.

Please donate today - every dollar counts.

"We must all hang together, or, assuredly, we shall all hang separately." - Benjamin Franklin

There are several ways you can donate.

You can mail your cheque payable to the DLCC to:
Cathy Prothro
351 Pleasant Street
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 3S4

PAY PAL. Please go to and click on the "Donate!" link for the Pay Pal tool.

For your convenience you can deposit from any bank directly into the Banned Aid Legal Fund by depositing to:
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce,
Penhorn Mall,Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Account 00513 010 1526839

You can also make an online payment from your financial institution's website by sending a bill payment to

Send cheques or money orders directly to Mr Ruby at the following address,
Ruby & Edwardh
11 Prince Arthur Ave.
Toronto, Ont.
416 964 9664

*If you aren't a resident of Canada and would like to help, Pay Pal is set up for all over the world. Thank you!*
* 1. added by Conners

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Little Litter Dog: Pit Bull Doing Its Part to Keep City Clean

All to often many articles in the media about the Pit bull breeds are negative, even to the extreme of claiming a breed as Pit bull when it's not.

Well, this article is one of the most positive and humourous articles I've ever read.

People will ask us Bullie owners why a Pit bull? You could go on for hours how loyal, intelligent and comical they are and all they ask of us is for love. A bullie will out do itself to meet with your approval, laughter and hug.

It's for this very reason we want people who only know what the media has brainwashed them with to see for themselves with an open mind why we love our dogs so much and why we fight so hard to get the truth out to them.

I received an email from one of my friends that told me her dog Emma, a bullie was in the news and no, not in a bad way. It was in November, but I'd like to share it with you. This article in the WEAU News.

Little Litter Dog: Pit Bull Doing Its Part to Keep City Clean
Nov 26, 2008
Reporter: Mary Rinzel with Photographer Jeff Ralph
Email Address:

Video: Little Litter Dog

You sometimes can't help but attract attention if you're a dog...

"No, she doesn't get ice cream if she does a good job," Anne Vaini tells the three kiddos clustered around her dog, Emma.

But when you're a dog that picks up litter from the sidewalk, runs to the nearest garbage can and drops it in, you're pretty much guaranteed instant fame.

"I just wondered what it was doing,” says Justin Webb, the owner of Midwest Tattoo on Water Street. “I’d just see it walk up and down the street and pick up trash."

"The first reaction is always 'oh my gosh! Did I just see that?' Yeah, you did. She does that and puts it in there by herself," Vaini tells us laughing.

You're best bet to catch Anne and Emma walking Water Street: Friday or Saturday nights when there's more people and more litter.

"When the students came back, I noticed the street was looking really trashy and really dirty,” Anne tells us. “I though 'hey, I have a dog that can pick things up and put it in the trash cans.’ I thought it'd be good training.”

Vaini’s hope: That Emma will one day leave her trash tasks to help someone in a wheelchair.

"I love it because a lot of people think American pit bull terriers can't be trained and I can show them very quickly, without having to pull their leg or tell them that whole story that 'yeah, it's a dog and it can be trained."

And trained well. Emma was a little out of practice after a recent surgery. But, after a couple seconds of prodding she picked right up on her litter picking skills; much to the delight of the Water Street faithful.

"At least somebody is picking up the trash," laughs Webb. “There's a lot of it left here at night. Maybe we can get some more dogs down here picking up the trash." But, it's not all work for the little litter lady....

"Emma is absolutely a love bug. She's always ready to give kisses," Anne says cuddling her pup.

Making Emma one itty bitty pit bull with an extra large heart.

If you'd like to get in touch with Anne about training, we have a link to her Canine Command website below. It’s under Related Links.

Related Links
Canine Command

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Health Dept. looking for white, tan pit bull

This was in the Mansfield News Journal. I wonder if the woman knows her breeds of dogs, or is she just assuming it's a Pit bull...or by discribing it, did the Health Department come to this conclusion? After all, if it bit, it must be a Pit bull. Other dogs don't seem to bite.

Health Dept. looking for white, tan pit bull

The Mansfield/Ontario/ Richland County Health Department is looking for a dog who bit a 26-year-old woman. The white and tan pit bull was last seen Nov. 15 near Circle K on Lexington Avenue.

Report any dog that fits this description to the health department at 419-774-4500. If it is observed running loose, it is best to call the dog pound at 419-774-5892. Do not attempt to restrain it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pit Bulls Banned in Ontario

The only ones that don't get it is the Ontario Liberal Party.

Pit Bulls Banned in Ontario
October 26, 2008

A spokesperson with an animal shelter in St. John's doesn't feel it is necessary to enact dog specific bans.

This after an Ontario court recently upheld its ban on pit bulls after the law was challenged for being unconstitutional.

St. John's SPCA Executive Director Debbie Powers says a ban on pit bulls, or any other breed, is placing the blame on the animal, and not the owner.

Ontario is the only province to ban the breeding, selling or importing of the Pit bull class of dog.

The city of Winnipeg has a similar law.

Rambo still out as court upholds pit bull ban

The biggest crime coming from the Liberal government in OnScario is not only murdering innocent dogs (of all breeds of dogs they label as Pit bulls), but the lack of socialation which is very important to raising friendly dogs.

Our new Ontario, Attorney General Chris Bentley is copy catting the exact words that all Liberal voice. Do they not have opinions of their own or do they all use the exact wording as what Michael Bryant says.

Ontario has turned into a dictatorship province and no longer for the people. Their primary function is to ban as much as possible rather than looking for working solutions.

We and the other parties gave them a workable solution, but they hold tight to their faulty reasoning and won't bundge from it. It's a matter of control and power, not fairness and certainly not what 70% of what Ontarians want.

Rambo still out as court upholds pit bull ban
By: Julia Le
October 25, 2008

Rambo won't be returning from Nova Scotia to his former Mississauga home any time soon.

Rambo the pit bull-cross had to leave the province or face euthanasia under the Ontario pit bull ban. An appeal court has upheld the ban.

In a ruling yesterday, an appeal court is upholding the provincial ban on pit bull breeds.

Rambo, a 10-month-old pit bull cross, captured the city's attention after being caught running at large last Christmas day. After a court battle to prevent him from being euthanized under the ban, owner Gabriela Nowakowska agreed to ship him to a province that doesn't have the ban.

The Ontario Court of Appeal said the ban on pit bulls, which was enacted in 2005, does not violate any constitutional rights. The judges said the total ban on pit bulls is not 'arbitrary' or 'grossly disproportionate'.

"Pit bulls have a tendency to be unpredictable and that even apparently docile pit bulls may attack without warning or provocation," they said in their decision.

Lawyer Clayton Ruby, who challenged the law in March 2007, said it was a "sad day" in Ontario.
In a statement he said these kind, loving, gentle dogs are being killed in the province for no reason.

"The provincial government should focus their efforts and resources on identifying truly dangerous dogs rather than apprehending and killing dogs that pose no threat at all," said Ruby, who is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley however, said he believes upholding the legislation is important in keeping Ontarians safe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Puppy Mills in Canada and Don't be conned

The reason I've decided to write on this subject is so many people aren't aware of when they buy from a Pet Shop, in most cases, they are actually supporting the puppy mills and buying years of problem dogs that have been raised in the most unsanitary and dangerous conditions. It's not uncommon for the pup to be sickly and most likely an inner bred pup.

As you and your family each have your share of holding the puppies and a sales clerk approaches you, your heart has melted and perhaps found your favorite of the bunch.

As you ask the price of the pup and the clerk give you a high fetched price, such as $600.00 or $700.00, you ask the breed of the dog. The clerk tells you the breed and right away you are assuming you are buying a purebred pup for that price.

Unknown to you, papers come with purebreds and as the pup grows, suddenly that tiny lap dog that was suppose to stay within a certain size grows way beyond that. You also notice that as the pups looks changes, often it looks more like another breed rather than what the clerk has told you.

By this time though, you and your family have totally fallen in love with the pup and don't want to take it back.

You notice the pup isn't doing well with training, so you take it to Puppy Obedience classes, but it can't seem to keep up with the others. You assume you have spoilt the pup so much, that now it's your fault the pup is not trainable or the school is being to hard on them and take them out angry with the trainers. In your mind, they just don't understand how high strung your precious baby is. It isn't used to be to being trained in that manner, because your dog is SPECIAL and it probably is as it's neurotic from the way it was bred.

As much love as your family has shown it all the love a puppy would needs, you find the pup either get aggressive with you and starts to snarl or nip or even aggressive especially to children or infants as well as other dogs and trying to house break the pup is a never end of 'accidents'.

Though you are getting frustrated, you did put a huge investment into the pup and you assume your dog is very high strung because it's a purebred and so now you are making all kinds of excuses why your pup, now a dog isn't growing up well mannered as all your friends dogs are. They are everything from mutts to purebreds too, but not having any of the problems you are. They tell you they are used to being the BOSS in the family and have to hide the dog away when people come over.

When you ask if they socialize their dog, they say they can't because it wants to fight every dog they have contact with, so to avoid the embarrassment, they take their dogs out when no other dogs are around. 

In many cases, the neighbours have complained about the constant barking of your dog that is holding you prisoner in your own home because you can't leave your place with it without a scene and if you do, the complaints come in and you find your place a disaster with dog feces, pee and destroyed furniture. Oh, but it loves you so much that it can't bare to be without you, you convince yourself.

Not once do you think your dog has mental problems that think most inner bred dogs do. You're basically a first time owner and you blame all the dogs problems on yourself, after all, with a purebred, the blue blood it comes from must make it need extra care that other dogs don't require.

Do they consider the Dog Shows where purebreds have been trained to strut their stuff and have to stand, walk and prance around the ring under strict scrutiny of judges? Why don't these dogs have the same problems?

As they grow older, they find their beloved has more health problems and they pay out more money on getting the well more than they had paid for them several times over.

Please, before you and your family decide to get a dog, especially first time owners, do your homework prior to making that decision. There are Pet Stores that have cats and dogs that aren't sold in the stores and only displayed there. These animals are usually shelter animals and to be able to adopt them, you go through the Humane Society or Animal Aid Rescue and go through the adoption program to see if you and the animal are right for each other.

They won't cost you $600 or $700 to buy, but they will already have their shots and the fee's for having them fixed are included if too young or already to go.

If you MUST have a purebred, check out your local breeders and ask for their credentials and ask around about them. The reputable ones don't want their names tarnished and they will take care to have you thoroughly checked prior to you even seeing their animals. You will receive papers of their lineage with pedigree papers to go with them.


Puppy Mills in Canada

Dogs at a puppy mill, crowded into cages.

With hundreds of thousands of dogs born into puppy mills each year, Canada has become a haven for the puppy mill industry—and for unimaginable cruelty against our best friends.

It’s all about profit.

A puppy mill is a breeding operation in which puppies are mass-produced in substandard conditions. The goal is to produce as many puppies as possible with minimal cost to—and maximum financial gain for—the operator. The puppy mill industry has grown exponentially in Canada, and it is now a multimillion dollar business in this country.

Puppy mills cannot meet the needs of a dog. These dogs live in insufficient housing that are overcrowded with poor sanitation, and are under-fed and denied proper veterinary care. The majority of the breeding females spend their entire lives in small, filthy cages without exercise, love or human contact. They are bred continually until their tired, worn bodies finally give out and they can no longer produce enough puppies (usually at four to six years of age.) At this point, they are no longer deemed profitable and are simply killed, as are unsold male dogs

While many are located in Quebec, puppy mills operate in many other provinces, from coast to coast in Canada. Notably, at least 90 percent of puppies sold in pet stores in Canada come from puppy mills. Puppy mill pups are advertised in local newspapers and sold through the Internet, at flea markets, or directly from the mill. Generally, visitors are not allowed inside the facility to see the conditions in which the dogs are kept.

Quebec is Canada’s puppy mill centre.

Although they exist all over Canada, a large portion of Canada’s puppy mills can be found in the province of Quebec due to its particularly poor legislation and enforcement surrounding commercial dog breeding operations. The result has been the creation of up to 2200 puppy mills in this province. Half the dogs bred in Quebec are sold outside the province to pet stores and wholesalers across Canada and (until recently) the US. Furthermore, the Quebec government provides very little funding to animal cruelty investigations compared to other provinces.

Breeding Disease and Heartache

Puppy mill breeders allow over-breeding and inbreeding to occur. Most puppies have, or will develop, genetic defects and/or other health problems sometime in their lives as a result of poor breeding practices and unsanitary conditions at the puppy mill. They often have behavioural and temperament problems as well, resulting from a complete lack of socialization with humans or other dogs.

In May 2008, the US government placed a ban on imports from foreign puppy mills for commercial sale. This will likely have a great impact on the puppy mill industry in Canada, since the US has been a major market for this industry up until now.

What We’re Doing

HSI Canada and our US affiliate, the Humane Society of the United States, are fighting puppy mills on several fronts. From conducting investigations, to rescuing dogs from cruel puppy mills, to lobbying for stronger provincial and , we’ve met with some success—but there is a long way to go and we won't stop until Canada’s puppy mills are shut down for good. Join us in the fight—with your help, we will succeed!

Write to your Member of Parliament to ask for better enforcement of laws and increased penalties to stop puppy mills.

What You Can Do

  • Write to your Member of Parliament to ask for better enforcement of laws and increased penalties to stop puppy mills.
  • Sign our pledge declaring your support for a national ban on puppy mills and stronger laws for animal protection.
  • Live in Québec? Write to your provincial representative and Premier Jean Charest to demand better enforcement and funding of the provincial animal welfare law. Then, download and circulate our petition[PDF] addressed to the National Assembly. en français [PDF]
  • Donate to help end puppy mill cruelty.

Expert Opinion


Video: Cruelty in Canada

Monday, November 17, 2008



Whereabouts Unknown

Somewhere on the Trans Canada highway between eastern Manitoba and the Ontario border a trek for the homeless has taken a slightly different path.Kerry Pakarinen has walked over 2700 kilometres since July in his cross-Canada trek to raise funds and awareness for the plight of the homeless in Canada.Accompanying him for the entire trip has been his faithful friend, his dog Preacher. Various news articles have described him as a "Mastiff" or "Bullmastiff".

The DLCC is working alongside concerned dog owners and banding together to help Kerry and Preacher in any way they can, including clothes, food, blankets, etc, as the pair enter into the winter season crossing Ontario. Estimates suggest that they will be in that province for at least two months, on their way to Prince Edward Island.

Also of concern to dog owners countrywide are the often draconian anti-dog laws -- some of the worst in the country -- that Kerry and Preacher will encounter during his trek across Ontario.

Both the vague provincial law enacted in 2005 and the bylaws of many cities and towns throughout the province may present a serious risk to both him and his dog. Dog owners would like to be there for him in case he runs into trouble.

We are currently in the process of contacting Kerry, but our best guess is that they will reach the border of Manitoba and Ontario (traveling eastbound) around November 12.

This group will keep people updated on the whereabouts of the adventurers, so that they can be greeted with assistance and kindness throughout their journey.As soon as we contact Kerry, this site will be updated.

PLEASE help us locate this man and his dog.

We have set up a blog and a Facebook group for anyone to send in their information should they be able to locate this team.

We need ALL dog owners to be on the look out. If you can find it in your heart to do up a care package for this couple, please do !

If you find him, please report back by submitting a comment here as soon as possible.

Facebook members can join the group at

You may also invite friends who are not on Facebook to read the Homeless Preacher blog instead at

The Preacher's Story

For visiting pooch, law is the pits

Kerry Pakarinen's dog Preacher resembles a pit bull, but no one seems sure exactly what breed he is. The duo are on a cross-country awareness walk for the homeless that will take them to Ontario, which bans pit bulls. (Nov. 12, 2008)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Classy canines: Vick dogs featured on wine labels

What a wonderful way to show how fighting dogs aren't bad even after all the cruelty Michael Vick's dogs endured. Read this absolutely positive article on

Classy canines: Vick dogs featured on wine labels
Georgia, Handsome Dan, Curly and other pit bulls get a shot at fame

Georgia, Handsome Dan, Curly and other pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick's dogfighting operation are getting a shot at fame as stars of a line of boutique red wines.

The Vicktory Dogs Wine Collection features colorful portraits of 22 dogs confiscated from Vick's Bad Newz Kennels that now live at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah.

"As a signature collection, it's through the roof," said Matt Hahn, co-owner of Carivintas Winery, a Southern California company that combines wine selling and philanthropy.

Each bottle includes a portrait of one of the dogs on the label. On the back, instead of a description of the wine, there's a brief story about each four-legged friend.

The pit bulls have been living at Best Friends since January while handlers try to reverse the mental damage done at Vick's 15-acre estate in southeastern Virginia. Vick, a former NFL quarterback, is serving a two-year prison sentence in connection with the dogfighting operation.

Artist Cyrus Mejia, one of the founders of Best Friends, began painting the dogs after they arrived at the sanctuary. Gone in the portraits are any signs of snarling beasts fit for a fight ring. Instead, there are cocked heads, soulful eyes and floppy ears.

"I think he's been able to capture the real personalities of each of the dogs," said John Polis, a Best Friends spokesman.

Hahn and his small winery based in Buellton, Calif., jumped at the chance to use the portraits in creating the Vicktory Dogs collection. He said the goal was to show the dogs in a positive light.

National exposure

Television viewers have come to know many of the dogs through the National Geographic Channel show "DogTown: Saving the Michael Vick Dogs," which chronicles their life after being rescued.

"Everybody has their favorite and people are buying for different reasons," Hahn said. "Some people will drink the wine, some will never open the bottle."

The entire set, including 22 bottles and two others commemorating Best Friends' 25th anniversary, costs $672. The set can also be split and each half sells for $380. Individual bottles go for $40.

Ten percent of each sale goes to Best Friends. The money will be used to oppose dog fighting around the country and to fight laws that target specific dog breeds, Polis said.

Hahn is also hoping the wines, which went on sale last month, are a starting point for people to talk about dogs and protecting animals.

"We really use these things as a way to push the discussion further," Hahn said.

Click for more on the Michael Vick case
Slide show: Vick's dogs get a second chance

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

For visiting pooch, law is the pits

Where is Kerry and Preacher? That's the question many Ontarians are asking each other wanting to get hold of Kerry Pakarinen before he crosses into Ontario with his best friend Preacher.

His cause of walking across Canada for the Homeless with Preacher could end in Ontario because of the Pit bull ban that Pakarinen isn't aware of. Preacher is a Bullmastiff, but will ACC see him as that? Not likely and it could become the end of the road for Preacher.

Kerry and Preacher should be arriving in OnScario approximately today or within a day or so. With no phone there is no way to warn him and nobody is aware of his where abouts to warn him of Ontario Pit bull ban law.

Hopefully, concerned citizens will get to him first before the ACC.

This positive and concerned article is in The Toronto Star today.

For visiting pooch, law is the pits

Kerry Pakarinen's dog Preacher resembles a pit bull, but no one seems sure exactly what breed he is. The duo are on a cross-country awareness walk for the homeless that will take them to Ontario, which bans pit bulls. 

Nov 12, 2008 04:30 AM
Antonia Zerbisias

Somewhere in eastern Manitoba, Kerry Pakarinen and his best friend are headed for Toronto.

On the Trans-Canada from Vancouver for four months, they're equipped with nothing more than a shopping cart and sleeping bags, raising awareness for the plight of Canada's homeless.

They've been welcomed everywhere and even received favourable coverage in print and on TV.

Unfortunately, the moment they cross into Ontario, one of them could face a death sentence.
That's because Preacher, whom Pakarinen identified to the Calgary Herald as a Bullmastiff, looks to many dog experts, like a pit bull cross.

Which means he isn't welcome here.

In Ontario, ever since 2005, when then-Attorney General Michael Bryant cruelly banned the breed – ignoring the expertise of animal organizations, humane societies and veterinarians – any dog born in the past three years that even vaguely resembles a pit bull is guilty until proven innocent.

For them, it's the needle, or the gas chamber.

No exceptions. Not for people who move to Ontario. Not for military personnel transferred here. Not even for Preacher who is just passing through.

In fact, if bestselling author Cesar Millan, star of the hit show The Dog Whisperer, were to bring his popular Daddy here, the goofy-grinned dog would be dead meat.

So, if even a celebrity dog is doomed, what chance does a homeless mutt like Preacher have?

But Pakarinen might be unaware of this idiotic legislation. It hasn't been mentioned in any of the reports on him and, indeed, reporters who interviewed him in other provinces were equally clueless when I asked.

Trouble is, nobody can reach him because he's on the road, and has no phone.

There's no way to warn him of the danger ahead.

Steve Barker, a dog trainer who last year quit Toronto for B.C. where his champions Brooklynn and Star are safe from the law, says all kinds of family pets – including Labradors and Jack Russell crosses – have "have been targeted by authorities since the ban.''

Which is why he fears for Preacher.

He, and other experts who saw his news photos, believe he "could be anything – boxer/pit bull mix, mastiff mix, pit bull/Shar Pei, Rhodesian Ridgeback mix.

"If (we) can look at this dog and be unsure, then so can anyone else in Ontario, particularly those animal control officers who may have a bias against this type of dog.''

Let's not kid ourselves. There's racism – against humans – involved here.

"Pits'' – and I use the word advisedly since, technically, there is no such breed – are the most common inner-city dog in North America. They don't always get the best of care. Sometimes they're used as four-legged guns, and even tortured to become aggressive.

As a result, even the sweetest pooches get an unfair rap.

Remember U.S. football star Michael Vick and his fighting dogs? After he went to prison last year, most of his pits were adopted, and some even went on to become therapy dogs in hospitals.
Still, every time a pit is involved in an incident, the media are all over it. But, just last week, a boxer almost tore the face off a Vernon, B.C., boy and it barely caused a ripple.

Public hysteria based on fear and ignorance always leads to unnecessary tragedy – whether we're talking witch burnings or breed bans. About 100 years ago, the New York Times fuelled stupid rumours that white Pomeranians – now known as American Eskimos – were the cause of rabies. All were shot or clubbed to death on sight, or seized and drowned in steel cages.

Look how far we've come since then.

Not very.

As for Pakarinen and Preacher, I hope they're not at the end of the road.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Proven Human Health Benefits for Our Animals...and yes, that includes the Pit bull breeds too

People often as us Bullie owners how we could love our dogs so much. To them, because of the media hype, all they see are vicious killers. This is what we see as responsible owners of our family members, our fur-kids.

It's not our dogs that fight, but us to try to rid the stigma that has badly tarnished their reputations with misconceptions. To fight against Breed Bans that our dogs have done nothing to deserve it.

I chose this article, not because it was talking about dogs in general, but to show those that can not see or feel as we do, why we love and fight so hard for the Bullie breeds and other breeds of dogs that are being banned because of the breed they happen to be and not by their loving personality.

Denver, CO November 11 2008 
We Love Our Dogs! 

Health Benefits from Pets

Proven Human Health Benefits for Our Animals

DENVER, Colorado, November 6, 2008. Did you know there are proven health benefits to owning a dog or pet? “Studies show there are significant physical, mental and emotional benefits for both pets and pet parents,” said Bill Pearce, chief marketing officer for Del Monte Foods. “It is as easy a taking your dog for a walk. Researchers say you’ll walk farther with your pet than you would if you were walking alone, an activity that benefits you both.”

The human-animal bond encourages people to get active, reduce stress, and live healthier together. There are proven health benefits to owning a pet. Reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, and increasing physical activity are all positive benefits of dog and pet ownership. There are hundreds of stories of how pets have changed people’s lives. Owning a dog or pet can make a person fell loved and appreciated. Pets are good role models of how to live each moment to the fullest. Plus, pets are wonderful listeners.

Here are some interesting studies proving the health benefits of owning a dog or pet.

  • Heart patients with pets are nearly five times more likely to survive a heart attack than those without pets. (Source: Ontario Veterinary Medical Association).
  • Pets can help us humans combat loneliness, depression, and other emotional problems, even something as common as stress. (Source: Generations, vol. XXV, no. 2, Summer 2001: New York Times, July 24, 2001).
  • Cholesterol and triglyceride levels are lower in pet owners than non-owners. (Source: Delta Society/Anderson, 1990).

If those are not compelling and convincing reasons to own and love a pet here are some more:
  • Owning a dog or pet can make a person feel loved and appreciated. 
  • Pets are good role models of how to live each moment to the fullest. 
  • Last but not least, pets are wonderful listeners.

Remember you local shelter has lots of loving animals hoping for an owner just like you!

Debbie Holte is a frequent contributor of articles on our dog's health and happiness for whose company's mission is to improve the quality of life for our beloved animals.

To learn more about Buddy Beds, orthopedic dog beds or read about the industry and customer accolades Buddy Beds has received, visit the website at or email

Contact Information:

875 South Colorado Blvd., Suite 701,
Denver, CO 80246

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pit bull ban 'sad day' for dog owners

Letters to the editor In the Owen Sound Sun Times

Pit bull ban 'sad day' for dog owners

In the words of the esteemed lawyer Clayton Ruby, Oct. 24 was a "sad day" indeed for all dog owners and non-dog owners alike in Ontario.

The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a move to repeal Ontario's Bill 132, which bans pit bulls in the province. Under the ban, "restricted" pit bulls are those who were born (and living in Ontario) before Nov. 27, 2005. These dogs can be kept by their owners but must be sterilized and muzzled and leashed at all times when in public.

All other dogs of this type must be euthanized, sent out of province or sent to animal testing facilities. It also states that officers (police, municipal bylaw enforcement and animal control) can enter the premises of an owner, without a warrant, and remove the dog if the laws are not being met. Fines include up to $10,000, jail time and/or extermination of the animal.

Due to lack of education, media hype and bias, pit bulls have become the most misunderstood breed in history. I believe a great deal of clarification on both pit bulls and this legislation is necessary in light of the fact that the majority of the general public could not identify a pit bull.

In fact, when this ban was proposed by the attorney general (Michael Bryant) in 2004, he could not identify this breed amongst 26 other breeds. The vast majority, more than 75 per cent, of experts including veterinarians, behaviorists and animal support workers were opposed to this ban.

The term pit bull is often given to three different breeds of dogs: the American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier and American Staffordshire terrier.

Bill 132, however, applies to these three breeds as well as any dog that has traits which are "substantially similar" to these breeds. This could therefore apply to boxers, mastiffs, ridge-backs, bull dogs, cane corsos, Rottweilers and numerous other breeds and mixed-breeds that have some similar traits. A stocky mixed breed dog, a Labrador retriever and bulldog combination for example, would fit into this category. A Lab with a short statue and definition of muscle tone would also fit the stereotype.

Furthermore, the burden of proof has now been reversed, leaving it in the hands of the owner, not the court, to prove that their dog is not a pit bull.

The media are largely to blame for the misconceptions surrounding these wonderful dogs. Tales of attacks on humans, by 150-pound pit bulls with locking jaws, circulate throughout the papers on a regular basis. The reality is that the average American Pit Bull Terrier is 65 lbs and there is no physiological structure in any dog's jaw that would allow it to lock.

The fighting history of pit bulls is largely what supports the hype around these dogs. There is, however, a huge difference between animal and human aggression. They were bred to fight other dogs and therefore should and can be socialized and trained with other animals. Aggression towards humans was actually bred out of fighting dogs. Any dog that could not be pulled out of a fight by a human or bathed by the opponents owner (to ensure no poison was placed on the dog's fur) was a bad fighting dog.accurate dog bite statistics. Generally, the larger the population of a dog breed, the more bites there will be by that breed.

Dog bite reports, however, do not even list pit bulls in the top five breeds that bite, yet according to the National Canine Research Council "a fatal dog attack by a non-pit bull is much The reality is that there are no accurate dog bite statistics. Generally, the larger the population of a dog breed, the more bites there will be by that breed.

Dog bite reports, however, do not even list pit bulls in the top five breeds that bite, yet according to the National Canine Research Council "a fatal dog attack by a non-pit bull is much less newsworthy than a non-fatal attack by a pit bull."

It has been estimated that less than one per cent of dog attacks are by pit bulls, and over 90 per cent of these are by unaltered males, however, over 90 per cent of media coverage on dog attacks are about pit bulls. Ignorance is fed by media horror stories in spite of the fact that in dog temperament tests, these three breeds scored an average of 83 per cent, six per cent higher than the overall average of all breeds of 77 per cent.

Breed specific legislation does not result in fewer dog attacks. It is discriminatory, punishes good dogs and their owners, and does nothing to deal with the problem of dogs that have proven to be dangerous. The same people continue to raise, abuse, neglect and own dogs.

The city of Winnipeg noticed a sharp increase in attacks after they put a ban in place, as did the Netherlands who recently reversed their 15-year ban because it was ineffective. The city of Peterborough reported an increase in dog attacks recently.

All dog owners need to be responsible for all dogs. There needs to be stricter punishment for bad dog owners, and more restrictions on ownership, such as mandatory sterilization for non-breeders and training. This bill is very costly and the money would be more effective if it was spent on education, dog bite prevention and dangerous dog controls which do not deal with breed specifics. We should be safe from dog attacks by any breed.

For more information on BSL and pit bulls go to the Owen Sound Animal Shelter website and check out the Hush, Silence the Rumours Campaign (

Other information can be found at the sites below:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Who's the Hero dog that saved the life of a woman and toddler from an attacker

This is a heart warming story of a stray dog that saves the life of a woman and toddler from an attacker in NBC2 News Online.

I wonder why they never named what kind of dog this gaurdian angel was? No matter, I have the two articles of the same story. Please read on to find out who this hero dog is.

Dog saves woman, toddler from attacker

A woman says a stray dog appeared out of nowhere and rescued her from a man holding her at knifepoint with her 2-year-old son nearby.

"God only knows what would have happened if he didn't show up," said Angela.

Angela and her son were at the playground at Higgs Park on Higgs Drive in Port Charlotte when a man approached her, put a knife to her side and told her not to scream.

Then, her guardian angel came running out of nowhere to fight off the attacker – at full force – and on all four feet.

"As soon as he growled he just let go of me and took off," she said.

Her savior was a 65 pound stray dog.

Angela grabbed little Jordan and ran for safety with her new hero on her heels.

"Before I could shut my son's car door, he jumped right in and I wasn't going to sit there and try to get him out. I just had to leave before that guy came back," said Angela.

But the courageous canine wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.

"After the cops left, we were waiting for Animal Control and he stood by my door and did not leave my door. He sat there and did not leave," said Angela.

Animal Control came and took the dog to the shelter, leaving Angela and her son safe and sound from her attacker.

"I don't know what his intentions were- I don't know why he did it, but I'm glad that- we call him Angel- I'm glad that Angel showed up because I don't know what would have happened," Angela said.

Angela said she will adopt the dog if its owner doesn't come forward to claim it.

Now read the same article as read in Zoo Too News. It shows what the main stream media are trying to hide. 

Stray Pit bull Saves Woman, Child from Attacker
Pet Pulse Staff Reports
November 5, 2008

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The wandering 65-pound Pit Bull mix might have seemed menacing to some passerby, but one woman will always remember him as her "guardian angel."

The dog, which authorities think is lost and not a stray, successfully thwarted a robbery attack on a mother and her 2-year-old son, who were held at knifepoint Monday afternoon.

The Florida woman, who has been identified by authorities simply as "Angela," was leaving a playground with her toddler son in Port Charlotte when a man approached her in the parking lot with a knife and told her not to make any noise or sudden movements.

Angela didn't have to do either to protect herself and her child -- a dog mysteriously ran to the scene and charged the man, who quickly fled.

"I don't think the dog physically attacked the man, but he went at him and was showing signs of aggression, just baring his teeth and growling and barking. It was clear he was trying to defend this woman," Animal Control Lt. Brian Jones told Pet Pulse.

"I don't know what this man's intentions were, but it is very possible this dog saved her life."

The exceptional part of the story, Jones said, is that the dog had never met or even seen the people it quickly jumped to defend.

"You hear about family dogs protecting their owners, but this dog had nothing to do with this woman or her kid," Jones said. "He was like her guardian angel."

After the alleged thief ran away, Angela quickly placed her son, Jordan, in the car and tried to drive off. Before she could, though, the dog jumped into her backseat, waiting with her for the police and animal control officers to arrive at the scene.

The dog was transported to a local shelter and if his owners don't step forward within five days, Jones said, Angela and her family plan to adopt the savior she named "Angel.

Animal control officers and shelter workers believe Angel is lost, and not a stray, because of his good health, sturdy weight and mild temperament.

"It's funny, that someone's irresponsibility could have saved someone's life," Jones said of Angel's possible owners.

For Angela, it doesn't matter where the dog came from, just that he was there when she needed him most.

"I don't know what his [the thief's] intentions were -- I don't know why he did it, but I'm glad that -- we call him Angel -- I'm glad that Angel showed up because I don't know what would have happened," Angela told NBC2 News.

For a small town with a population of 46,452, animal control officers were kept busy Monday afternoon. Jones says they department also responded to a report about a boa constrictor in a church parking lot.

The snake found its way into a car engine and was able to be removed without being harmed. It took three people to move the massive, seemingly random placed snake.

"It's funny, because we aren't a big place," he said of the Gulf Coast town. "And we can go for four or five months without the media contacting us about a story. It's been a busy week."

Officers from the responding county sheriff's office canvased the area and were unable to locate the suspect described as being in his 20s, tall and dark haired.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How an attempt to help could have meant her life

Just the other day, Shasta and I heard what sounded like a puppy in distress outside. Before I could even think, Shasta had bolted opened the screen door and ran in the direction of the distress cries. I ran right after her totally afraid as she wasn't muzzled or leashed.

This is not abnormal for the Pit bull breeds to save people and animals. If you look back at some of the Hero Dogs, you will see many that have been honoured and given awards for their bravery. Some even gave their lives to save others. Take a look at Positively Pit Hero's and see for yourself.

Unfortunately, here in Ontario with the Pit bull Ban, Shasta's attempt to rescue a distressed pup could have meant her life. Her bolting out of the door like a bullet could have been perceived as an aggressive act as she ran towards the dogs. Two Jack Russel's were on the landing on the steps outside barking and growling at her. She wasn't interested in them, but sniffing around for the crying pup. I don't think she associated these two dogs from the dog she heard in distress.

I ran after her and the neighbours that were there told me they had never seen me move so fast. I wasn't thinking pain. My only concern was catching Shasta and getting her into the apartment safely. Naturally, I was in tears crying and finding it hard to breath.

The woman appologized to me for the upset and I doubt she even knew the fear I was feeling or why. Everything was quick and like a blur. My neighbours told me Shasta looked confused, but though the other dogs were barking and growling, Shasta was only sniffing. I said, "Yes! She was looking for the distressed pup we heard."

They told me there wasn't a third dog. It was the two dogs that did everything from whimpering, barking and growling. No wonder Shasta was confused as so was I. I asked the woman who kept on appologizing to me to PLEASE take her two dogs in the doors. I just wanted to lead Shasta back home through the back in through the patio and shut ourselves in.

I'm not worried about my neighbours or the woman with the dogs, but some observer from another building that may have taken the full incident out of context. A knock on the door from ACC and Shasta could be taken away from me and held pending upon a trial.

I would literally be a basket case as Shasta is my life, my service dog that helps me with my daily living as well as my other half and fur-baby.

The Liberal government has put responsible dog owners in a state of panic and fear. That's why we MUST win our case against Michael Bryant and the Liberal government's faulty law.

If you look to Calgary, Alberta's you will see a bylaw that makes sense. You'll find much information in the City of Calgary Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.

There hasn't been a knock at my door and I hope I don't get one. Should I have to be this afraid?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In memory of Spanky

Today has been a very hard and sad day for us. Us, meaning my son, Michael, his fiance, Robin and of course me.

Robin phoned me early in the day. I think it was morning, but what she had to say to me was so unexpected. Spanky, Michael's Pit/Pei hadn't eaten for a couple of days and hadn't drank water for probably as long.

When Michael took him out in the backyard that he loved to play in, he just stood there for awhile before wanting back in to lay down. So unlike him who was full of energy even at the age of 13.

Robin and I took him to our vet's who did a physical with all signs normal except his temperature was low due to dehydration. He also needed a blood test, but my vet said he would fax to the Emergency Clinic as they had all the facility's there, where as it would take days before he got the results back. He didn't charge us for his services and wished us well.

The result of the blood tests showed infections in both the kidney and liver. Had Spanky been a young dog, the results could turn out differently, but because of age, he said it was most probably end of life and extensive exams and medications wouldn't mean Spanky would get better. Possibly it could give him another day or even week.

I try to look into the vet's eyes to see what he would do in this situation. Finally, I'm not sure if it was Robin or myself who asked the question. He had given us three options and the second one would not have helped Spanky. The vet himself told us that and that was to take him home and self medicate him, plus force him to drink water. So we never even considered that.

Robin phoned Michael and he had just gotten home from work, she told him exactly where we were so he could come to make the decision.

Once Michael came he asked more of the 1st option. Him staying for 4 days with IV and given medication. I was glad we got a vet who was sincere and genuinely concerned about Spanky rather than giving us BS. He told him he wanted to be completely straight with us and personally he figured it was end of life for Spank and his kidney and liver showed real signs of wear and tear. As much as he would rather be able to give us a better outcome, he said he couldn't. Spanky had a wonderful life with a lot of love from what he could tell, but it's his time to go.

Michael, as emotional as the two of us told the vet his concern was not money, but for Spanky. He wanted to do the right thing for Spank rather than him having to suffer. To get rid of the infection wasn't going to correct his liver or kidney and asked if he could develope another infection because of them. The vet agreed that the most humane would be the hardest option.

The three of us all wanted to say our good byes to him and be with him until the very end. Robin and I were so happy we didn't put Spanky's muzzle on him today. I was happy that BSL didn't rob Spanker-doodle from us. He was a wonderful boy that gave us years of happy memories and while we grieve today and have a part of our hearts with a vacancy, we have to honour his memory with all the silliness and great times we had together.

Spanky walked in on his own to us and the vet removed the lead. He put a huge comforter folded on the floor and told us to take all the time we needed. This room was for us as long as we needed. We all kissed and patted Spanky, talking to him with tears rolling down our faces. I cried even more as he tried to lick my tears away.

We had unfolded the comforter and it wasn't until he finally went to it and lay down as if to say, it's time now.

Spanky was Michael's very first dog that he got as a young teen. He had never seen a dog put to sleep before, but wanted to be with Spank. The vet explained in detail exactly what he was going to do and what was going on as he went through the process. We all spoke and stroked Spanky the whole time with more tears than you imagine could can come out of you. I've gone through the drill so many times, but it never gets easier as one of your family is leaving you.

Now gone where there lays no more pain for him we only have memories to hang on to. Michael will be reminded the most, especially during times he goes to take him out, or feed him, or simply want to play with him. Knowing he's gone, yet still in disbelief.

Spanky, you gave so many people so much love, but your true love was always Michael. We'll miss you, you Lil' Stinker, but I'll come for you at Rainbow Bridge as we go through heaven's gates together.

Shasta will miss you too, Spanky. She sniffed me when I came home and knows your scent. I believe she knows my tears are for you as she washes them away as you did.

All our love is with you forever.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cochrane v. Ontario (Attorney General) (October 24, 2008)

Cochrane v. Ontario (Attorney General) (October 24, 2008)

CITATION: Cochrane v. Ontario (Attorney General), 2008 ONCA 718
DATE: 20081024
DOCKET: C47649
Laskin, Sharpe and Cronk JJ.A.


Catherine Cochrane
Applicant (Appellant/ Respondent by way of cross-appeal)
Her Majesty the Queen In Right of Ontario, as represented by the Attorney General of Ontario
Respondent (Respondent/ Appellant by way of cross-appeal)
Clayton C. Ruby and Breese Davies, for the appellant/respondent by way of cross-appeal
Robert E. Charney, Michael T. Doi and S. Zachary Green, for the respondent/appellant by way of cross-appeal

Heard: September 15 and 16, 2008

On appeal from the judgment of Justice Thea P. Herman of the Superior Court of Justice dated July 27, 2007, with reasons reported at 2007 CanLII 9231 (constitutional challenge) and 2007 CanLII 29973 (remedy).
Sharpe J.A.:


[1] The appellant attacks the constitutionality of Ontario’s law banning pit bull dogs. As a violation of the law can result in a penalty of imprisonment, the appellant invokes the right not to be deprived of “life, liberty, and security of the person… except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice” guaranteed by s. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She argues that a total ban is grossly disproportionate to the risk pit bulls pose to public safety, rendering the law unconstitutionally overbroad, and that the law fails to provide an intelligible definition of pit bulls, rendering the law unconstitutionally vague. She also argues that a provision allowing the Crown to introduce as evidence a veterinarian’s certificate certifying that the dog is a pit bull violates the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence, contrary to s. 11(d) of the Charter.

[2] In 2005, in the aftermath of a series of highly publicized pit bull attacks resulting in serious personal injury to several victims, the Ontario Legislature amended the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16 to ban the breeding, sale and ownership of pit bull dogs: Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 2. The pit bull provisions allow those who own pit bulls born at the time the amendments came into force or 60 days thereafter to keep their dogs (“restricted pit bulls”). However, owners of restricted pit bulls are required by regulation to have their dogs sterilized and to leash and muzzle their dogs when in public places.

[3] The appellant owns a “Staffordshire terrier cross” that is a restricted pit bull. In support of her overbreadth argument, the appellant submits that the legislature cannot justify the law’s total ban on pit bulls and blanket application to all restricted pit bulls. It is her contention that there is insufficient evidence to indicate that all pit bulls are inherently dangerous and that significantly less drastic measures could satisfy any concern for public safety. In support of her vagueness argument, the appellant contends that the Act fails to provide an adequate definition of pit bulls and that it is impossible to determine whether a dog is or is not caught by the legislation. Finally, the appellant argues that the veterinarian certificate provision denies the right to cross-examine on crucial evidence and creates a mandatory evidentiary burden and thereby violates the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence protected by s. 11(d) of the Charter.

[4] The application judge rejected the overbreadth argument. She accepted the appellant’s vagueness argument but only to a limited extent. The application judge struck down part of the definition of “pit bull” but left the most significant part of the definition intact. She accepted the appellant’s s. 11(d) argument and struck down the veterinarian certificate provision.

[5] The appellant comes to this court asking us to reverse that judgment and to strike down the pit bull provisions as being unconstitutionally overbroad and vague. The Attorney General cross-appeals and asks us to restore the definition of “pit bull” as enacted by the legislature. The Attorney General also cross-appeals the order striking down the provision relating to the use of a veterinarian’s certificate.

[6] For the following reasons, I conclude that the pit bull provisions do not violate any right guaranteed by the Charter. Accordingly, I would dismiss the appeal and allow the cross-appeal.


[7] The pit bull provisions prohibit the ownership, breeding, importation or transfer of pit bulls. Under regulations promulgated under the Act, individuals who own a restricted pit bull are required to muzzle, leash and sterilize their dogs: Pit Bull Controls, O. Reg. 157/05, ss. 1-2. Under s. 18 of the Act, a person who contravenes any provision of the Act or regulations is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to a fine of up to $10,000, six months imprisonment or both.

[8] Subsection 1(1) of the Act defines the term “pit bull” as follows:
“pit bull” includes,
(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); (“pit-bull”)

[9] Subsection 1(2) provides:
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.

[10] The provision relating to the admissibility and use of veterinarians’ certificates reads as follows:
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.
(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).
(3) For greater certainty, this section does not remove the onus on the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.


[11] There was conflicting evidence before the application judge regarding the dangerousness of pit bulls. The applicant’s evidence was to the effect that pit bulls are not inherently dangerous; that Canadian statistics indicate that pit bulls were involved in relatively few reported bites or attacks; and that most pit bulls pose no threat to public safety. The Attorney General relied on evidence of a series of pit bull attacks that had resulted in serious personal injury, including harm to children; expert evidence that pit bulls tended to be unpredictable in their behaviour and susceptible to unprovoked attacks; and evidence from the United States indicating that pit bulls were involved in a disproportionately high number of serious incidents.

[12] The application judge ruled that the applicant had failed to make out a violation of s. 7 of the Charter on grounds of overbreadth. She held that the legislature could act on a “reasoned apprehension of harm” and that conclusive evidence that pit bulls pose a threat to public safety was not required so long as the legislative response was not “grossly disproportionate” to the legislative objective. She found that it was unnecessary to resolve the conflicting evidence as to the danger posed by pit bulls and that the record established a sufficient body of evidence to permit the legislature to conclude that a total ban on pit bulls was required to protect the public.

[13] With respect to the vagueness challenge, the application judge concluded that, when read as a whole, ss. 1(1)(b)-(e) and (2) provide a sufficient definition to survive s. 7 scrutiny. However, she found that as there is no recognized “pit bull terrier” breed, the inclusion of “a pit bull terrier” (s. 1(1)(a)) was unconstitutionally vague. She also found that the use of the word “includes” in the definition of “pit bull” rendered the definition unconstitutionally vague. Accordingly, she struck down the word “includes” and s. 1(1)(a) and read into the opening of the definition of “pit bull” the word “means” in place of the word “includes”.

[14] With respect to s. 19, the application judge found that a trial judge has the discretion to permit cross-examination of the veterinarian and therefore rejected the contention that s. 19 violated the accused’s rights to a fair trial. However, the application judge also held that s. 19 created a mandatory evidentiary burden that violated the right to be presumed innocent guaranteed by s. 11(d) of the Charter and that the violation could not be justified as a reasonable limit pursuant to s. 1. She held that the appropriate remedy was to sever s. 19 and to strike it down.

[15] The application judge also rejected the applicant’s submissions that the pit bull provisions were ultra vires the province and that they conflicted with federal legislation. No appeal is taken from those findings.

[16] In view of the divided success, the application judge declined to award costs.


[17] The appeal and cross-appeal raise the following issues:
(1) Are the pit bull provisions unconstitutionally overbroad?
(2) Is the definition of “pit bull” unconstitutionally vague?
(3) Does s. 19, providing for proof that the dog is a pit bull through a veterinarian’s certificate, violate s. 11(d) of the Charter?
(4) If there are any violations of the Charter, are they justified pursuant to s. 1?
(5) To the extent that the pit bull provisions are unconstitutionally vague, is severance and reading in the appropriate remedy?
(6) Did the application judge err by refusing to award the appellant costs?


Issue 1. Are the pit bull provisions unconstitutionally overbroad?

[18] Overbreadth is a term used to describe legislation that, as drafted, covers more than is necessary to attain the legislature’s objective and thereby impinges unduly upon a protected right or freedom. A law is unconstitutionally overbroad if it deprives an individual of “life, liberty and security of the person” in a manner that is “grossly disproportionate” to the state interest that the legislation seeks to protect. Such a law is said to be “arbitrary” and offends “the principles of fundamental justice” and therefore violates s. 7 of the Charter. A law that restricts the rights guaranteed by s. 7 is also “arbitrary” unless it is grounded in a “reasoned apprehension of harm”. The onus of proving that the law is “arbitrary” or “grossly disproportionate” lies on the applicant: see R. v. Malmo-Levine, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 571, at paras. 78, 133, 143.

[19] The Attorney General concedes that as the Act provides for a potential penalty of imprisonment, the s. 7 right not to be deprived of “life, liberty and security of the person… except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice” is implicated. There is no dispute that the legislative purpose of the pit bull provisions is to reduce, and ultimately to eliminate, the risk of pit bull attacks in Ontario. The appellant concedes that the protection of the public from dog bites and dog attacks is a legitimate legislative objective.

[20] The contentious issue is whether the appellant satisfied the onus of demonstrating that the law is “arbitrary” or “grossly disproportionate” to the legislature’s objective.

[21] The appellant relies on evidence to the effect that not all pit bulls are inherently dangerous and argues that by imposing a total ban on all pit bulls, whether shown to be dangerous or not, the sweep of the law is excessive and not capable of justification as proportionate to the alleged risk pit bulls pose to public safety. The appellant’s evidence may be summarized as follows:
· Expert opinion that most dogs, including pit bulls, are kind and gentle and that many pit bulls have never bitten anyone and that it is not possible to link dangerousness to breed.
· Evidence that a variety of factors other than a dog’s breed determine dangerousness, including: inherited and learned behaviours, breeding, socialization, function and physical condition and size of the dog, reproductive status, popularity of breed, individual temperament, environmental stresses, owner responsibility, victim behaviour, victim size and physical condition, timing and misfortune.
· Statistical and expert evidence that pit bulls are responsible for only a small proportion of recorded bite incidents and fatal dog attacks in Canada .

[22] The Attorney General responds with evidence that pit bulls do pose a serious threat to public safety. That evidence may be summarized as follows:
· Evidence of four savage pit bull attacks resulting in significant personal injury shortly before the enactment of the pit bull provisions and the evidence of several police officers who confronted and shot pit bulls that were attacking someone or that were aggressively threatening police officers.
· American expert witnesses who observed highly aggressive behaviour unique to pit bulls, not exhibited by any other type or breed of dog, and who considered pit bulls to be a recognized danger to public safety.
· An American statistical study finding that pit bull-type dogs were involved in a high proportion of dog bite related fatalities in the United States from 1981 to 1992.
· Expert evidence that pit bulls can be unusually unpredictable and as they have a tendency to attack without warning or provocation, there may be nothing a potential victim can do to prevent or avoid an attack.

[23] The application judge carefully reviewed and analyzed this evidence and concluded as follows, at paras. 74, 79 and 84 of her reasons on the constitutional challenge:
[T]here is inconclusive and competing evidence in the case at hand. However, conclusive evidence is not required before a government can take action. It is also not necessary for the court to resolve the conflicting evidence. There is, in my opinion, sufficient evidence to conclude that the legislature, in enacting these provisions, had a “reasoned apprehension of harm” concerning the dangerousness of pit bulls.

It is my opinion that, in the face of this conflicting evidence, the legislature was entitled to decide that there was a sufficient body of evidence with respect to the inability to identify dangerous pit bulls in advance of an attack so as to justify restrictions that apply to all pit bulls. The recommended alternative approaches to breed-specific legislation largely depend on either a previous dangerous act or a responsible dog owner identifying a dangerous dog and taking appropriate action. Where public safety is concerned, it was open to the legislature to choose the more cautious approach.

It is not my task to substitute my opinion for that of the legislature as to how best to protect the public. It is also not necessary for me to resolve the conflicting evidence as to the role that breed plays in determining whether a dog is dangerous and whether pit bulls, as a breed, are dangerous. The legislature, in determining how to accomplish its objective, is not required to have conclusive evidence before it enacts legislation. The evidence with respect to the dangerousness of pit bulls, although conflicting and inconclusive, is sufficient, in my opinion, to constitute a “reasoned apprehension of harm”. In the face of conflicting evidence as to the feasibility of less restrictive means to protect the public, it was open to the legislature to decide to restrict the ownership of all pit bulls.

[24] The appellant submits that the application judge erred by refusing to make findings of fact and by failing to resolve the conflicting evidence. The appellant submits that the application judge was required to decide whether pit bulls are in fact inherently dangerous and whether a total ban on pit bulls was required to meet the legislature’s concerns in relation to public safety. Without making such findings, the appellant submits, the application judge was not in a position to dismiss the overbreadth challenge.

[25] I disagree with the appellant’s submissions and see no error in the approach taken by the application judge. In my view, the appellant’s submission misstates – and significantly understates – the burden that rests upon a claimant who challenges a law under s. 7 on grounds of overbreadth. As I have stated, the test for a breach of s. 7 on grounds of overbreadth is whether the law is “arbitrary” because there is no “reasoned apprehension of harm” or whether the law is “grossly disproportionate” to the legislative objective. To meet that test, the appellant had to satisfy the onus of demonstrating that the legislature did not have a basis for a “reasoned apprehension of harm” from pit bulls or that the action taken by the legislature was “grossly disproportionate” to the risk posed by pit bulls. Fairly read, the reasons of the application judge indicate that she quite properly focussed her analysis on these issues. In my view, the record amply supports the application judge’s conclusion that the appellant failed to satisfy the onus of demonstrating a breach of s. 7 on grounds of overbreadth.
(i) Ban not arbitrary

[26] The application judge applied the well-established Charter principle that where the risk of harm or the efficaciousness of Parliament’s remedy is difficult or impossible to measure scientifically it is for the legislature, not the courts, to decide upon the appropriate course of action, provided there is evidence of a “reasoned apprehension of harm”. It was not the role of the application judge to make detailed factual findings as that would lead to “micromanagement of Parliament’s agenda”. Her task was rather to apply the “relevant constitutional control”; namely, “the general principle that the parliamentary response must not be grossly disproportionate to the state interest sought to be protected”: see Malmo-Levine, at para. 133.

[27] The Supreme Court of Canada has consistently held that the “legislature is not required to provide scientific proof based on concrete evidence of the problem it seeks to address in every case” and that in the absence of “determinative scientific evidence” it is appropriate for the court to rely “on logic, reason and some social science evidence” to determine whether there is “a reasoned apprehension of that harm”: see Harper v. Canada (A.G.), [2004] 1 S.C.R. 827, at paras. 77-78.

[28] In R. v. Sharpe, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 45, at para. 89, McLachlin C.J. stated with respect to disputed evidence regarding the impact of child pornography that “the courts cannot hold Parliament to a higher standard of proof than the subject matter admits of” and that as “some studies” linked child pornography to the incitement of offences, a “reasoned apprehension of harm” was made out. Similarly, in R. v. Butler, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 452, at pp. 502-503, another case dealing with disputed evidence regarding the effects of pornography, Sopinka J. assessed the evidence as being “inconclusive” but, applying Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Quebec (A.G.), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 927, at p. 990, recognized that the government must be “afforded a margin of appreciation to form legitimate objectives based on somewhat inconclusive social science evidence.”

[29] In each of these cases, the Supreme Court declined to make factual findings on disputed scientific evidence and, once satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to give rise to a “reasoned apprehension of harm”, deferred to legislative judgment. The application judge correctly took the same approach and concluded that there was sufficient evidence of a reasoned apprehension of harm to permit the legislature to act.

[30] I disagree with the appellant’s submission that this reasoning applies only at the minimal impairment stage of s. 1 and that the application judge erred by applying it to determine whether there had been a violation of s. 7 on account of overbreadth. First, as a matter of authority, the Supreme Court of Canada appears to have assimilated the minimal impairment analysis under s. 1 with the overbreadth analysis under s. 7: see e.g. R. v. Clay, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 735, at para. 35; R. v. Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 606, at p. 629. Second, as a matter of principle, I fail to see why the determination of whether legislation is overbroad and therefore in violation of s. 7 should involve a more stringent test than the test to determine whether minimal impairment has been satisfied. The s. 1 minimal impairment test only comes into play when the government is attempting to justify an infringement of Charter rights. If anything, one would expect the test to be more stringent where the claimant has demonstrated a Charter breach and the onus rests with the government to demonstrate that the breach is justified.
(ii) Law not grossly disproportionate

[31] To determine whether a law is “grossly disproportionate” to the legislative objective, one must consider the nature and gravity of the alleged Charter infringement in relation to the importance of the legislature’s objective. As the application judge correctly observed, the right to own a dog is not protected by the Charter. The applicant is able to invoke s. 7 only because of the possibility that a court might impose a penalty of imprisonment for violation of the Act, an unlikely prospect absent blameworthy conduct by an owner leading to personal injury. This possibility of imprisonment must be weighed against the risk that pit bulls pose to public safety. The test of gross disproportionality clearly incorporates a substantial measure of deference to the legislature’s assessment of the risk to public safety and the need for the impugned law: R. v. Heywood, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 761, at p. 793; Clay, at para. 40.

[32] In my view, the reasons of the application judge demonstrate an entirely appropriate and defensible analysis and weighing of these competing factors. At para. 86 of her reasons, she states:
When one considers the interests at stake, that is, the objective of public safety as against the restrictions on dog owners, it is my opinion that this was a choice that the legislators were entitled to make. I conclude, therefore, that the means the legislature has chosen are not too sweeping in relation to the objective and the provisions are not unconstitutionally overbroad.

[33] I also agree with the application judge’s conclusion that the total ban on pit bulls is not “arbitrary” or “grossly disproportionate” in light of the evidence that pit bulls have a tendency to be unpredictable and that even apparently docile pit bulls may attack without warning or provocation. This evidence of unpredictability provided the legislature with a sufficient basis to conclude that the protection of public safety required no less drastic measures than a total ban on pit bulls.

[34] I agree with the Attorney General’s submission that the Charter does not require an individual assessment of each dog before it can be required to wear a leash or muzzle. Evidence of the unpredictable risk of severe harm is sufficient to allow the legislature reasonably to conclude that pit bulls as a group are dangerous because of the risk they pose. Legislatures frequently enact blanket prohibitions on things or activities that may be used or conducted safely because of the risk that severe harm can result from misuse or misconduct. The prohibition and regulation of certain firearms provides an example.

[35] The legislature’s response to the problem posed by pit bulls is not analogous to the legislative responses in the cases relied upon by the appellant. In Heywood, and R. v. Demers, [2004] S.C.R. 489, the impugned laws directly impinged upon the claimants’ liberty interest in a manner more significant than the pit bull provisions. Furthermore, in those cases, there existed adequate and less drastic measures capable of protecting public safety. In Heywood, the impugned law provided a lifetime ban on sex offenders from frequenting all public parks and bathing areas. The court found that the risk of harm could be satisfied by limiting the ban to parks frequented by children and reviewing the need to continue the order from time to time. In Demers, all permanently unfit accused, including persons who were not a significant threat to the public, were consigned to indefinite assessment and review with no possibility of trial or discharge. The court concluded that indefinite incarceration of such individuals could not be justified.

[36] Accordingly, I do not accept the submission that the application judge erred by rejecting the challenge to the Act on grounds of overbreadth.
Issue 2. Is the definition of “pit bull” unconstitutionally vague?

[37] Vagueness describes a lack of precision in legislation that leaves its meaning and application unacceptably uncertain. Legislation should provide fair notice to citizens as to what conduct is prohibited, appropriate limits on the discretion of law enforcement officials and a proper basis for coherent judicial interpretation. A law that implicates the s. 7 right to life, liberty and security of the person will be struck down as being inconsistent with the principles of fundamental justice if it is not sufficiently intelligible to meet these objectives.

[38] On the other hand, certainty is not the standard and legislation is not unconstitutionally vague simply because it is subject to interpretation. As the Supreme Court of Canada held in Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society, at pp. 638-39:
Legal rules only provide a framework, a guide as to how one may behave, but certainty is only reached in instant cases, where law is actualized by a competent authority. In the meanwhile, conduct is guided by approximation. The process of approximation sometimes results in quite a narrow set of options, sometimes in a broader one. Legal dispositions therefore delineate a risk zone, and cannot hope to do more, unless they are directed at individual instances.

Language is not the exact tool some may think it is. It cannot be argued that an enactment can and must provide enough guidance to predict the legal consequences of any given course of conduct in advance. All it can do is enunciate some boundaries, which create an area of risk. But it is inherent to our legal system that some conduct will fall along the boundaries of the area of risk; no definite prediction can then be made. Guidance, not direction, of conduct is a more realistic objective.

[39] It is sufficient for the law to delineate an area of risk. It is only “where a court has embarked upon the interpretative process, but has concluded that interpretation is not possible” that a law will be declared unconstitutionally vague: Ontario v. Canadian Pacific Ltd., [1995] 2 S.C.R. 1031, at para. 79.

[40] The appellant submits that in concluding that s. 1(1)(e) of the Act was not impermissibly vague, the application judge erred for the following reasons:
· The application judge understated the test for vagueness by allowing a law to stand which failed to identify a clear area of risk to dog owners.
· The Canadian Kennel Club does not register any dog as a “pit bull” or recognize the “American Pit Bull terrier” as a breed. There are very few American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Terriers in Canada and the application of the law rests essentially on the “substantially similar” clause which fails to provide sufficient guidance.
· Subsection 1(2) of the Act, which refers to breed standards, is permissive rather than mandatory and as it does not require a judge to have regard to the listed breeds, it fails to provide sufficient guidance.
· The application judge misapplied expert evidence indicating that it was impossible to identify a pit bull.

[41] I agree with the application judge’s conclusion that the definition of “pit bull” in ss. 1(1)(b)-(e) and 1(2) sufficiently delineates an area of risk and provides a basis for intelligible debate and interpretation. The core of the definition is the reference in ss. 1(1)(b)-(d) to the three named breeds that have defined physical characteristics that are accepted by kennel clubs and dog breeder associations. That well-defined core is not exhaustive, but it provides a point of reference that identifies the essential physical characteristics for pit bulls. The phrase “substantially similar” is commonly used in statutes to embrace a somewhat broader class than that captured by an enumerated list of referents. To the extent that the definition of “pit bull” extends beyond the specified breeds, the substantially similar clause is capable of controlling or limiting the reach of the law within constitutionally acceptable limits.

[42] As the application judge stated at para. 176, the breed standards “provide guidance to dog owners and others to assist them in determining whether a particular dog falls within the definition.” While s. 1(2) permits rather than mandates reference to breed standards, the application judge correctly observed at para. 177 that the court “is required to exhaust its interpretative function before it can be said that a law is vague.” I agree with her conclusion at para. 177 that the reference to the identified breeds “provides an interpretive guide and is sufficient… to provide the necessary guidance or benchmarks.”

[43] The appellant’s arguments must be considered in light of the established jurisprudence dealing with vagueness. In my view, the appellant’s submissions assume that a higher degree of precision is required for a law to survive s. 7 vagueness scrutiny than is warranted by the case law. As the Attorney General points out in its factum, the Supreme Court of Canada has upheld a long list of laws that are arguably more vague and uncertain in their application than the pit bull provisions. The statutory provisions upheld by the Supreme Court include:
· A Criminal Code provision creating a defence to assault where the force used is “reasonable under the circumstances”: Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada , [2004] 1 S.C.R. 76.
· A Competition Act offence of entering into an agreement to “unduly” lessen competition: Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society.
· A Divorce Act provision requiring the judge making a custody order to take into account only “the best interests of the child”: Young v. Young, [1993] 4 S.C.R. 3.
· A Criminal Code prohibition against publishing material where a dominant characteristic is “the undue exploitation of sex”: Butler.
· Immigration Act provisions allowing for the deportation of persons who pose a “danger to the security of Canada ” or who are members of organizations who have engaged in “terrorism”: Suresh v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [2002] 1 S.C.R. 3.
· A Canada Elections Act provision limiting the ability of third parties to promote one or more candidates by taking a position on an issue with which they are particularly “associated”: Harper.
· An Environmental Protection Act prohibition against the discharge of a “contaminant” that “causes or is likely to cause impairment of the quality of the natural environment for any use that can be made of it”: Canadian Pacific.
· A Tobacco Act prohibition on the promotion of tobacco products by means that are “likely to create an erroneous impression about the characteristics, health effects or health hazards of the… product or its emissions”: Canada (Attorney General) v. JTI-Macdonald Corp., [2007] 2 S.C.R. 610.

[44] These cases demonstrate that a law will not be struck down as being vague simply because reasonable people might disagree as to its application to particular facts. No doubt individuals, even experts, may disagree about what is in the “best interests of the child”, whether a particular contract would “unduly” lessen competition, whether a specific political issue is “particularly associated” with a given political party, or whether a dominant characteristic of a publication is the “undue exploitation of sex”. Yet each one of those phrases has been held to have sufficient precision to survive s. 7 scrutiny. In these and other areas of social or regulatory policy, the fact that identification and classification does not lend itself to linguistic certainty will not defeat laws which provide a degree of clarity capable of supporting intelligible debate. In my view, given the nature of the subject-matter and the importance of the objective, the Attorney General’s submission that the impugned provision gives sufficient guidance is well supported by the authorities cited.

[45] It is worth noting that while not directly applicable to a Charter challenge, vagueness challenges to similar definitions in municipal by-laws restricting pit bulls have failed in Canada: Madronero v. Lachine (Ville), [1990] Q.J. No. 307 (S.C.); Manitoba Assn. of Dog Owners v. Winnipeg (City), [1993] M.J. No. 661 (Q.B.), at paras. 11-13, aff’d [1994] M.J. No. 643 (C.A.).

[46] I note as well that laws banning or restricting pit bulls have been enacted in many American jurisdictions and American courts have overwhelmingly rejected vagueness challenges to pit bull laws containing definitions similar to the one at issue here. Included in the long list of cases to this effect cited by the Attorney General are: Hearn v. Overland Park, 244 Kan. 638, 772 P.2d 758 (1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 976 (1989); State of Ohio v. Anderson, 57 Ohio St. 3d 168, 566 N.E.2d 1224 (1991), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1257 (1991); American Dog Owners Asso. v. Yakima, 13 Wn.2d 213, 777 P.2d 1046 (1991); Colorado Dog Fanciers, Inc. v. City and County of Denver, 820 P.2d 644 ( Colo. 1991); American Dog Owners Assn. v. Des Moines, 469 N.W.2d 416 ( Iowa 1991); Greenwood v. North Salt Lake, 817 P.2d 816 ( Utah 1991).

[47] I turn now to the issue raised by the Attorney General’s cross-appeal: did the application judge err in holding that the word “includes” in the opening of s. 1(1) and the inclusion of the phrase “a pit bull terrier” in s. 1(1)(a) render the definition of “pit bull” unconstitutionally vague?

[48] The application judge held that it should be presumed that by adding the phrase “a pit bull terrier”, the legislature must have meant to add something to the definition not captured by the balance of s. 1. She found that there is no recognized breed of pit bull terrier and no agreement among the experts as to what dogs are or are not pit bull terriers. At para. 185 of her reasons, she concluded as follows:
[T]he phrases “pit bull includes” and “pit bull terriers” are problematic in so far as they appear to include an undefined number of dogs that fall beyond the three specified breeds and dogs substantially similar to those three breeds. In so far as these terms go beyond the three breeds, they do not, in my opinion, provide sufficient guidance to courts or to those who have to enforce the legislation. They also do not define an “area of risk” for dog owners.

[49] For the following reasons, I respectfully disagree with this conclusion. In my opinion, the definition of “pit bull” as enacted by the legislature survives s. 7 vagueness scrutiny.

[50] There is ample evidence in the record to demonstrate that the terms “pit bull” and “pit bull terrier” are generic, dictionary terms commonly used by members of the public, scholars, veterinarians, animal control officers and humane societies to describe American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, and dogs that are hybrids or mixes of these breeds or that have substantially similar characteristics. The terms “pit bull” and “pit bull terrier” are found in many of the articles and the professional literature cited in the record as well as in the testimony of most of the witnesses. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2001 ed., defines a “pit bull” or “pit bull terrier” as “a dog of an American variety of bull terrier, noted for its ferocity”. The legislature cannot be faulted for using vernacular or generic terms to alert the public to the nature of a prohibition also described in more precise scientific or technical language: Canadian Pacific, at para. 53.

[51] The terms “pit bull” and “pit bull terrier” must also be read in their context as elements of a more comprehensive definition. I do not agree with the application judge that by enacting the phrase “pit bull includes” and including the phrase “a pit bull terrier”, the legislature must have intended to add to the reach of the definition of “pit bull” to include a broader class than captured by ss. 1(1)(b)-(e). Legislatures commonly use repetitive and redundant language, repeating commonly used synonymous words out of an abundance of caution to ensure that the terms of a statute are given a compendious meaning. The test for vagueness is unintelligibility, not redundancy, and the inclusion of repetitive language does not render the definition constitutionally infirm.

[52] In addition, the word “includes” does not necessarily require an expansive interpretation extending the definition beyond the itemized list contained in ss. 1(1)(a)-(e). The word “includes” “may… depending on the context, precede a list that exhausts the definition”: Re Canada 3000 Inc. (Re), [2006] 1 S.C.R. 865, at para. 47. Where possible, legislation should be interpreted in a manner that corresponds to constitutional rights and values. To the extent the word “includes” is susceptible of importing an unacceptably vague definition, giving it narrow import as exhausting the definition is preferable to striking it down.

[53] Accordingly, I would allow this part of the cross-appeal, set aside paragraph 1 of the judgment and restore s. 1 as enacted.
Issue 3. Does s. 19, providing for proof that the dog is a pit bull through a veterinarian’s certificate, violate s. 11(d) of the Charter?

[54] Before the application judge, the appellant made two arguments in relation to s. 19:
(i) the lack of a provision for cross-examination in respect of the document from the veterinarian contravenes the right to a fair trial guaranteed by s. 11(d) of the Charter, and
(ii) the fact that the document is proof that the dog is a pit bull, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, infringes the defendant's right to be presumed innocent contrary to s. 11(d) of the Charter.

[55] On the first issue, the application judge concluded that ss. 39 and 46 of the Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33 give trial judges a discretion to allow for cross-examination of the veterinarian who signed the certificate. She held at para. 215 of her reasons that “it should be assumed that the discretion of the court to give leave to a defendant to cross-examine will be exercised in a way that is consistent with Charter rights and, in particular, with the right to trial fairness and the due administration of justice.”

[56] We agree. This ruling, from which no appeal was taken, is a full answer to the appellant’s first ground of attack on s.19. A trial judge’s discretion to permit cross-examination of the veterinarian is an important safeguard of an accused’s s. 11(d) rights. There is no reason to suppose that leave to cross-examine, if sought, will be improperly or lightly denied.

[57] On the second issue, the application judge concluded that by providing for proof by veterinarian’s certificate, s. 19 creates a mandatory evidentiary presumption that violates the s. 11(d) Charter right “to be presumed innocent until proven guilty”. The Attorney General cross-appeals on this issue. For the following reasons, I conclude that, properly interpreted, s. 19 does not create a situation where the accused is liable to be convicted in spite of a reasonable doubt and therefore does not violate the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. I would therefore allow the Attorney General’s cross-appeal on this issue.

[58] As I read s. 19, it simply provides that as proof of the fact that a dog falls within the definition of “pit bull”, the Crown may introduce a certificate to that effect purporting to be signed by a member of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario. Despite the rather complicated wording of s. 19, in the end, when properly interpreted, its legal effect is to overcome the effect of the hearsay evidence rule that would make a veterinarian’s certificate inadmissible. Allowing for proof by way of veterinarian’s certificate does not create a presumption, nor does it violate the presumption of innocence. Rather, s. 19 is an enabling provision that merely affords the prosecution a more expedient method of proving a fact necessary to sustain a conviction.

[59] In R. v. Downey, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 10, at p. 21, Cory J. referred to the landmark case of R. v. Oakes [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103, at p. 115, where Dickson C.J. identified two types of presumptions:
Presumptions can be classified into two general categories: presumptions without basic facts and presumptions with basic facts. A presumption without a basic fact is simply a conclusion which is to be drawn until the contrary is proved. A presumption with a basic fact entails a conclusion to be drawn upon proof of the basic fact. [Citations omitted.]

[60] Presumptions without basic facts are the legal starting point for the determination of a factual issue. Presumptions without basic facts relate to placement of the legal or evidentiary burden of proof as a matter of law. The presumption of innocence is the classic example. Until the Crown proves the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused is presumed to be innocent.

[61] Presumptions with basic facts operate by either permitting (a permissive presumption) or requiring (a mandatory presumption) the trier of fact to find the presumed fact upon proof of some other “basic fact”. For example, the provision in the Narcotics Control Act at issue in Oakes required the trier of fact to find an intention to traffic drugs (the presumed fact) upon proof of possession of drugs (the basic fact). Similarly, the provision at issue in Downey involved a presumption from basic facts: s. 212(3) of the Criminal Code provided that “[e]vidence that a person lives with or is habitually in the company of prostitutes… is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the person lives on the avails of prostitution”.

[62] As Downey and Oakes make clear, the focus for inquiry in relation to the presumption of innocence guaranteed by s. 11(d) is this: does the legislative provision create a situation where the accused is liable to be convicted despite the existence of a reasonable doubt?

[63] In Downey, Cory J. explained at p. 29 how this concern may or may not arise in the case of presumptions with basic facts:
Legislation which substitutes proof of one element for proof of an essential element will not infringe the presumption of innocence if as a result of the proof of the substituted element, it would be unreasonable for the trier of fact not to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of the other element. To put it another way, the statutory presumption will be valid if the proof of the substituted fact leads inexorably to the proof of the other. However, the statutory presumption will infringe s. 11(d) if it requires the trier of fact to convict in spite of a reasonable doubt.

[64] Thus, in Oakes, proof of possession of drugs did not lead inexorably to proof of an intention to traffic drugs. Similarly, in Downey, proof that the accused lived with prostitutes did not lead inexorably to proof that the accused was living off the avails of prostitution. In both cases, the accused were liable to be convicted in spite of a reasonable doubt as to their guilt.

[65] Does s. 19 create a situation where the accused is liable to be convicted in spite of a reasonable doubt, either through the existence of a basic fact presumption or otherwise?

[66] It is clear that s. 19 does not fall into the category of presumptions with basic facts. The veterinarian’s certificate does not prove a basic fact from which the trier of fact may or must find the presumed fact, i.e. that the dog is a pit bull. The certificate is direct evidence of that fact and its evidentiary force does not depend upon any presumption. Section 19 of the Act simply renders the certificate admissible and capable of being used by the trier of fact as direct evidence of the dog’s breed, not as proof of some other fact that in turn allows or requires the trier of fact to presume the dog’s breed.

[67] Could s. 19 nonetheless give rise to a conviction in spite of a reasonable doubt? By providing that the veterinarian’s certificate is “proof, in the absence of evidence to the contrary”, s. 19(1) is, on its face, perhaps suggestive of a reverse onus. However, in the end, I am not persuaded that it has that effect. The provision at issue in Downey used similar language. However, Downey dealt with a presumption with a basic fact which clearly gave rise to the possibility of conviction in spite of a reasonable doubt. Section 19 does not operate by creating a presumption from a basic fact. As the appellant candidly acknowledged during oral argument, s. 19 is not analogous to the statutory provision at issue in Downey. It follows that the reasoning in Downey is therefore distinguishable. Moreover, s. 19(3) explicitly preserves the presumption of innocence and requires the Crown to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

[68] Once the Crown relies on s. 19 to introduce a veterinarian’s certificate that a dog is a pit bull, it is true that the accused risks being convicted unless he or she offers something, either through cross-examination of the veterinarian or by adducing other evidence, to suggest that the dog is not a pit bull. The certificate creates a situation where the accused faces a tactical burden to point to some evidence capable of raising a reasonable doubt as to the dog’s breed. But to the extent that s. 19 thereby creates what may be described as an evidentiary burden, I do not agree that it violates the presumption of innocence. It is simply the tactical burden that any accused faces once the Crown makes out a prima facie case on an essential element of the offence. Unanswered – for the certificate is only “proof” that the dog is a pit bull when it is unanswered – the certificate is proof that the dog is a pit bull. The provision that the certificate is “proof, in the absence of evidence to the contrary” in this context amounts to a statement of the obvious rather than a legal prescription altering the burden of proof.

[69] Finally, to remove any doubt on the matter, I repeat that s. 19(3) explicitly preserves the presumption of innocence, providing that “this section does not remove the onus on the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.” Nothing in s. 19 relieves against the Crown’s obligation to prove all elements of an offence under the Act to the requisite criminal standard of proof.

[70] Accordingly, I do not agree that s. 19 violates s. 11(d) of the Charter and I would therefore set aside paragraph 2 of the judgment striking down s. 19.
Issue 4. If there are any violations of the Charter, are they justified pursuant to s. 1?
Issue 5. To the extent that the pit bull provisions are unconstitutionally vague, is severance and reading in the appropriate remedy?
Issue 6. Did the application judge err by refusing to award the appellant costs?

[71] As I have concluded that there is no Charter breach, and that the appeal should be dismissed and cross-appeal allowed, it is not necessary for me to consider the issues of s. 1 justification, the appropriate remedy or the application judge’s disposition as to costs.


[72] For these reasons, I would dismiss the appeal and allow the cross-appeal, set aside paragraphs 1 and 2 of the judgment below and dismiss the application. If the parties are unable to agree as to costs, we will receive brief written submissions to be provided by the Attorney General within ten days of the release of these reasons and by the appellant within five days thereafter.
“Robert J. Sharpe J.A.”
“I agree John Laskin J.A.”
“I agree E.A. Cronk J.A.”
RELEASED: October 24, 2008
Cochrane v. Ontario (Attorney General) (October 24, 2008)