Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Rambo goes to court and Death row dog offered new lease on life

Rambo goes to court

Is he a pit bull? Rambo, seen here in a recent picture taken at the Mississauga Animal Control Shelter, is on trial for his life starting today.

By: John Stewart
October 8, 2008

The case of Rambo, the puppy who stands accused of being a pit bull and is on trial for his life, returns to a Mississauga court this morning.Rambo's owner, 20-year-old Gabriela Nowakowska, spent last Christmas in tears after her beloved puppy escaped from the backyard where she lives in east Mississauga and was picked up by a municipal animal control officer.

Nowakowska was eventually charged with owning an illegal dog, since Ontario residents are no longer allowed to acquire dogs defined as pit bulls by legislation that was approved in 2005. That law is still under appeal.

The case became a lightning rod for opposition to the legislation, especially after Ward 6 Councillor Carolyn Parrish championed Rambo's cause. She challenged the City's policy to automatically put down dogs who are identified as pit bulls by staff and insisted that owners be given an option to send the dogs to new homes outside Ontario.

Council agreed to Parrish's suggestion that Nowakowska be granted weekly with Rambo visits at the animal control shelter before the case came to court. The scheduled three-day trial is to begin this morning at 10 a.m. at the provincial courthouse at 975 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W.

Negotiations have been ongoing between the crown and Nowakowska's lawyer, Anik Morrow, towards a possible resolution of the case.

You've heard me write about the case of Rambo. Rambo is a mutt that the ACC labeled Pit bull. Rambo did no crime that he was aware of. He didn't attack or show any aggression towards anyone. Rambo's crime was he accidently got out of the yard and was picked up. The owner broke no law until ACC labeled Rambo a Pit bull.

Ontario's law states that a Pit bull MUST be muzzled and leashed when in public, which Rambo didn't abide to. After all, he is a dog and does what dogs do. I've yet to meet a dog that can read, so accidents do happen even to the best of us.

Rambo had be locked up for so long with many court cases with more to come. He has already spent his time locked up since last Christmas. The most probably outcome was that Rambo would be murdered by ACC for breaking the Pit bull law.

Genuine love for Rambo gave Gabriela the sad courage to put Rambo before herself and allow Rambo to be given away to a home outside of Ontario where he could live a full, happy life. How true is that saying, 'If you love someone so much, let it go.' Unfortunately, unless we win in court having BSL taken out of Ontario's law, the last part of that saying can never come true, 'If they love you back, they will return to you.'

Here is the story of sacrifice and true love in The Mississauga News.

Death row dog offered new lease on life

File photo
Rambo, seen here in a recent picture taken at Mississauga Animal Control, is on trial for his life starting today.

By: John Stewart
October 8, 2008

Rambo, who has been living on doggie death row at the Mississauga Animal Shelter for the past nine months, will get a new lease on life if a proposed deal is approved in court this morning.

Gabriela Nowakowska has agreed that her dog, who is accused of being an illegal pit bull, can be shipped to a new home in Nova Scotia, where an adoptive home for him has been found through a dog rescue group.

The dog, picked up while running loose by the City's Animal Control department last Christmas Day, was accused of being an illegal pit bull under provincial legislation. He could have been executed if Nowakowska and her lawyer, Anik Morrow, had lost their case.

With the dog already having been confined for so long in the animal shelter and the possibility of more court delays looming if the case was not settled in the three days set aside for it this week, the 21-year-old woman decided to send the dog to a new home rather than risk having it killed.

Ward 6 Councillor Carolyn Parrish, who has championed Nowakowska's case and helped find and hire a lawyer for her, says it was an agonizing decision for the young woman to make."Gabriela is very sad," Parrish told The News. "But, in the end, she was more concerned about the dog than she was about making a point."

The controversial legislation that bans Ontarians from acquiring and owning new pit bulls was recently the subject of an appeal hearing in Toronto, where famed lawyer Clayton Ruby led the argument against it. A decision is expected in January at the earliest."

What good would it do if the legislation is struck down and Rambo is already dead?" asked Parrish. "If the object was to try to save a good pet, that's what has been done," the councillor added. Nowakowska has said all along that she wanted her dog to live but she also wanted him to stay with her. She has been visiting Rambo regularly over the past few months after City council amended its regulations to allow owners to visit animals expected to be incarcerated for lengthy periods.

Parrish said the dog has grown considerably and might be difficult to handle in a small apartment such as Nowakowska's. The deal between the crown and Nowakowska's lawyer was to be finalized today in a municipal courtroom on Burnhamthorpe Rd. W.

Parrish said that although there will be no court ruling stating that Rambo is not a pit bull as she had hoped, the fight has not been in vain. The City has made significant changes as a result of the Rambo case, she said, including the granting of "visiting rights" to incarcerated dogs and the requirement to offer owners the chance to have the dogs shipped out-of-province in similar circumstances in future.

Selma Mulvey, an advocate for dog owners' rights and blogger on animal issues who is supporting appeal of the pit bull legislation said, "I guess this means that either they didn't want to kill a good dog or they didn't think they could prove that Rambo looked like one of the rare breeds targeted for extinction in Ontario. We all know that there is no such breed as 'pit bull' and that there is no such thing as a 'dangerous breed.' The Rambo case shows that the provincial law is vague, inhumane and unnecessary."

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