Thursday, July 08, 2010

Death-row dog gets a reprieve

Death-row dog gets a reprieve
Barbara Brown
Special to the Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 7, 2010)

Princess, formerly called a prohibited pitbull terrier, has a new lease on life.

The dog was ordered destroyed by Hamilton Animal Control last month after escaping her home and attacking a smaller terrier, causing bruising and puncture marks to the other animal.

The pitbull was seized and brought to the Dartnall Road pound, where a veterinarian estimated the dog was three or four years old. That would put Princess in the category of a prohibited pitbull under Ontario's 2005 Dog Owners' Liability Act and was an effective death sentence.

Princess, it turns out, was a lucky dog.

Fate, in the form of a more mature age, intervened to save her hide and set the dog on a new path to life outside the province, where pitbulls are not outlawed.

Jaime Stephenson, a Hamilton lawyer and animal advocate, stepped in to fight for Princess and was partly responsible for her stay of execution. She offered to pay for the dog to be spayed and shipped to an animal-rescue group in western Canada.

Jim Gillis, supervisor of municipal law enforcement for animal control services, agreed to postpone the animal's destruction pending an investigation into the dog's background and applicable legislation. The probe turned up a record that indicated Princess had been licensed as a pup five years ago.

The Dog Owners' Liability Act, which took effect in October 2005, banned the breeding, sale and ownership of pitbulls after several incidents in which the dogs attacked people. The law stipulated that a pitbull born within 90 days of the legislation being enacted would be grandfathered and could remain in Ontario as a restricted pitbull.

These pitbulls were required to be licensed, spayed or neutered and muzzled in public.

The new information changed Princess's status from a prohibited to a restricted pitbull.

The dog must still be removed from the province, Gillis said, because her owner had not been in compliance with the law.

He said a staff member trained in animal behaviour tested Princess under the SAFER (Safety Assessment for Evaluating Rehoming) criteria and found she was not aggressive toward humans or about food. The dog did behave aggressively toward other animals, however.

Stephenson met Princess for the first time yesterday at a Burlington veterinary clinic where the dog was taken to be spayed. She said the dog was relaxed and friendly and licked her face when she bent down to pet her.

In addition to a sizeable vet's bill, Stephenson has agreed to pay $15 a day for Princess to be boarded at the pound, pending her removal from the province.

The lawyer said she is in touch with several animal-rescue operations, but added Princess is less of a priority now that she is no longer slated for destruction.

"It's unfortunate that we don't hear about these situations more often because these animals are being put down in this province every day," Stephenson said.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Lawyer fights city to save dog's life

In TheSpec is an article where a lawyer is trying to save an illegal pit bull and sending it to another province. Did the government of Ontario actually believe that all Ontarian citizens would abide by the law, let alone even understand it?

Last summer the only bullie I saw muzzled was Shasta and one other, only because somebody reported them and then they were enforced to comply. The reason that they thought their dog didn't need to be muzzled was because he was an AmStaff and not a pit bull.

There are so many misconceptions and here's another example.

My mom say a woman with her bullie muzzleless. When she remarked that all pit bulls were to be muzzled by law, the woman replied, 'that's only for purebred pit bulls. Mine isn't.' My mom cautioned her to becareful and perhaps she should look closer into Ontario's Pit bull law.

Last summer, a friend ran in holding the cutest little puppy. She was going to ask her hubby for $50 for it.

I asked her what breed was it and she confessed she didn't know. I asked where it came from and she said there was a guy in the car selling pups.

The pup had all the features of a pit bull. Looked so much like Shasta as a pup except for different colouring. I told her what breed of dog I thought it was and also said the people selling out of cars are either back yard breeders or the dogs have come from a puppy mill where they can't be traced.

I explained a bit about the Pit bull law and the hardships she would be facing buying an illegal pup, especially when there are so many dogs in the Humaine Societies. SPCA's and rescues.

I was so happy, yet saddened as I watched her take the pup back.

So many illegal bullies and crosses that their owners aren't even aware of. One day, there's a knock at the door and suddenly the family pet is carted off and the family are in disbelief. They claim, 'but he's never harmed anyone or anything!'

Out of all this, who is the only one's that are really suffering as they go to their doom? They feel fear, yet don't understand. Some stranger is carting him off from the family he called his own.

Dog's have high intuition and know danger is approaching. Just like the dog in the article when being examined by the vet. She wasn't with a family member to reassure her the vet would not harm her. She's been taken away from all that she knows. Strangers are suddenly examining her. The vet says, she showed aggression. SHE WAS AFRAID!!!

 Lawyer fights city to save dog's life
Aggressive pit bull 'deserves chance'

Barbara Brown
Jun 30, 2010

A three-year-old pit bull terrier called Princess is on death row at the municipal pound, awaiting a decision of the City of Hamilton's legal department.

Princess has several strikes against her.

First, she is alleged to be a prohibited pit bull under Ontario's Dog Owner's Liability Act.

Second, she has not been spayed and is too young to have been grandfathered when the province enacted the law in 2005.

Third, she is accused of attacking and mauling a smaller dog.

At the heart of the legal battle are provisions of animal-control legislation, which stipulate pit bulls that bite humans or domestic animals must be destroyed.

Jaime Stephenson -- a criminal lawyer who is also an animal advocate -- believes Princess deserves a chance to live in another province.

The Hamilton lawyer, who has a purebred male boxer, said Princess should have an opportunity to show that in the right environment with the right kind of supervision, she can become a properly behaved dog.

"I try my best to be an animal advocate and I'm not blind to the fact that, unfortunately, some of these animals cannot be rehabilitated. But I believe they deserve a chance," said Stephenson.

The lawyer contacted animal control authorities and offered to pay to have Princess spayed and to be shipped to an animal-rescue organization in western Canada.

The dog belonged to one of Stephenson's clients until two weeks ago, when she was seized by Hamilton animal control officers after escaping her home and attacking the other dog.

A veterinarian, who examined Princess at the Dartnall Road pound, determined the dog was a prohibited pit bull terrier of between three and four years of age.

Stephenson was advised by staff at the pound that the dog would be destroyed by order of a veterinarian under the Animals for Research Act.

The dog also became subject to this legislation after being seized.

The lawyer fired off a letter to Jim Gillis, supervisor of municipal law enforcement for animal control services, stating her intention to bring an application before a Hamilton court for a stay of execution.

Gillis confirmed yesterday that the destruction of the animal has been delayed, while the city's legal department looks into the different pieces of legislation and the history of the dog.

He said Princess continued to show aggressive behaviour while being examined by the veterinarian.

The Ontario government enacted the Dog Owner's Liability Act in 2005 to ban the breeding, sale and ownership of pit bulls, after several incidents in which the dogs attacked people.

The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the law in 2008, finding that pit bulls were dangerous and unpredictable dogs that had the potential to attack without warning.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Michael Bryant's pit bull ban fails to totally eliminate dog-on-human violence: THS report

Michael Bryant's pit bull ban fails to totally eliminate dog-on-human violence: THS report
by John Michael McGrath
April 30, 2010

Man's best friend or worst enemy?
(Image: audreyjm529)

In 2005, after a few headline-grabbing incidents of pit bulls mauling small children, the Ontario government moved to ban any new pit bulls in the province. (Being anti-child-mauling is an easy call for a politician.)

It’s now five years on—is the ban working? Predictably, the Toronto Humane Society (THS) says no.

Reports the Toronto Star:

There were 5,714 incidents in 2004, the year before the Liberal government rolled out breed-specific legislation to ban the sale and importation of pit bulls. Owners were required to get their pit bulls spayed or neutered, and must muzzle and leash them in public.

Despite the law, the Humane Society found the number of dog bites dropped slightly to between 5,350 and 5,500 in the last four years.

“It is clear that the new law has not worked. It has not reduced the number of dog bites and increased public safety. All it does is punishing one breed of dogs,” said society spokesman Ian McConachie.

That law was pushed through by Michael Bryant, the former attorney general who now faces serious charges related to the death of a cyclist.

The law was opposed by, among others, the THS, which has spent the last year battling charges of animal cruelty. If it was possible for Bryant’s reputation to be even more tarnished, this might do it. (Though the Globe points out these numbers are hardly iron-clad.) Of course, THS isn’t a neutral party in this, seeing as they just recently had to put down Bandit, the dog whose attack on a child started all this.

In an argument between a disgraced AG and a scandal-plagued animal shelter, is there a way they could both lose? We can’t think of one, but we’re confident they’ll both find a way.

Pit-bull ban hasn’t reduced bites: THS [Globe and Mail]
Humane society says new law doesn’t nip dog bites [CBC]
Pit bull ban hasn’t cut dog bites [Toronto Star]

Friday, April 23, 2010

Media down plays dog bite causing car crash

The reason I'm sharing this story from the Ottawa Citizen is the difference it makes between if these were dogs of the Pit bull breeds, the heading would have been more along the lines in bold lettering, 'Pit bull attacks man, causing car to crash in to Gleb coffee shop'.

It would have included the Ontario ban with all the same fan fare that really grabs your attention. When they were banned. Why they were banned. Every juicy tid bit they could glorify their story with.

These dogs were down played whereas had they have been of the Pit bull breeds, the dogs would have been the main focus of this accident.

We already know that the media is one of the breeds worse enemies slandering their reputations and putting fear into the hearts of those that read the articles.

Obviously these dogs, breeds unmentioned simply bit a driver badly enough to cause this collition, but there was no Animal Control officers present and why would there be? For the simple fact that they simply weren't Pit bulls or any type of dogs remotely close to their breeds that could compare.

It only goes to show that the media isn't stating facts as they are suppose to do to inform the public, but rather dramatizing stories to make headlines otherwise why the downplay of these dogs.

Of course, this comes to no surprise to us who are already educated about the Pit bull breeds and stories like this are a dime a dozen rather than a headline breaker.

Dog bites man, car hits Glebe coffee shop
One driver injured, store patrons unscathed
By Tony Spears, The Ottawa Citizen
April 22, 2010

Reader Rich Redmond witnessed a two-car collision at Bank Street and Second Avenue which culminated in one car striking the window of a Bridgehead coffee shop, Ottawa,
Police said the driver of one car — who was bitten by a dog in his vehicle — was treated by paramedics for a dog bite. No others were injured.
Photograph by: Rich Redmond, Reader photo
Do you have pictures of the accident? Share them with us at

OTTAWA — A dog bit the driver of a moving car in the Glebe, sending it careening into a second car and a coffee shop Thursday afternoon.

The driver, a man in his early 20s, was assessed at the Bridgehead coffee shop on Bank Street between Second and Third avenues for a dog bite, paramedics spokesman J.P. Trottier said.

His female companion, in her early 20s, and the other driver — a woman in her 50s — were also assessed, but no one was taken to hospital, said Trottier.

Two dogs in the man's car were unharmed, he said.

The coffee shop suffered "no real discernable damage," Trottier said, adding it appeared the male driver had only "nudged" the Bridgehead building.

Bridgehead's clientele also escaped unscathed.

Chris Robinson witnessed the "tail end" of the crash and e-mailed the Citizen.

I heard this big booming sound," he wrote. "Then I turned and saw a black car smashing a car from behind … almost nailing this pedestrian (that guy was lucky)."

Paramedics said the original 911 call had been for a struck pedestrian, but that no pedestrians had actually been injured.

Police were investigating late Thursday afternoon. Staff Sgt. Gerry Sabourin said it was too early to say if charges would be laid.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dogs pass pit bull test, head home

Dogs pass pit bull test, head home

Brittany and Rambo are home — and for the record, they’re not pit bulls.

More than three months after the City of Brampton took two dogs from their owners, charging that they were illegally bred pit bulls, the city conceded this week that the dogs were indeed not pit bulls and returned them to their owners Monday.

It was welcome news for the Branco and Gaspar families who say they burned through thousands of dollars in legal fees to get their pooches home — something they say should have happened months ago.

It was Jan. 13 that Brampton Animal Services officers seized the two-year-old siblings from their homes.

Officials alleged the dogs’ father, Tyson, was a registered pit bull. Moreover, the city had a veterinarian sign a certificate stating his opinion that Brittany and Rambo were pit bulls, the city’s lawyer, Barnet Kussner, said Tuesday.

Pit bulls were banned in Ontario in 2005.

But Rui Branco, who owned Tyson until July 2008 and whose sister, Inez, owns Brittany, contended Tuesday that Tyson was never registered as a pit bull. He and lawyer Megan Burkett, who represented the owners in a dogged battle with the city, said the city never showed them the evidence that Tyson was a pit bull.

Branco, along with Maria Gaspar, 75, who owns Rambo, maintained that their dogs are part boxer, part American bulldog.

Though the owners also had a veterinarian agree the dogs were not pit bulls, they faced a deadline to send the dogs to a province that accepts pit bulls. That deadline was pushed aside pending the legal battle.

Under provincial legislation, pit bulls were banned in Ontario in 2005.

“(The Dog Owners’ Liability Act) doesn’t really provide any clear process on how a municipality can determine a breed,” Kussner said. “There’s no formal avenue of appeal by an owner when the breed determination is in question. So really, we were sort of into uncharted waters in certain respects.”

After months of back-and-forth between the city and the owners, the two sides agreed to bring in an independent veterinarian.

The vet examined the dogs Friday and “concluded that the dogs are not pit bulls under DOLA,” a City of Brampton press release said.

“We’re elated,” Branco said Tuesday. “(Brittany) gave the entire family what we call a European wash, which is where she licks us from head to toe ... Her little (tail) was going crazy.”

At the Gaspar home, owner and dog couldn’t be happier, family friend Nelio Dacomceicao said.

“She’s finally smiling,” Dacomceicao said of Gaspar. “Her dogs are like her kids.”

As part of the agreement between the owners and the city, the dogs must be designated and licensed as “potentially dangerous dogs,” which means they have to be microchipped, sterilized and leashed and muzzled in public.

Kussner called the designation an “appropriate compromise” that balances the rights of the owners against the need to protect the community under the dog owners’ legislation and city rules.

“It can still be a dangerous dog or a potentially dangerous dog even if it’s another breed other than a pit bull,” Kussner said. “(The city) has got to be proactive to protect the community under the provincial legislation.”

The Gaspars are concerned about whether Rambo was injured while in the shelter for more than three months as he came home with a bite mark on his head, cuts on his ears and a lump on his ribs, Dacomceicao said. The injuries will be checked out when the family brings Rambo in to be sterilized Thursday, he said.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cross post freely; Philip and Ginger need your help!

Cross post freely;
Philip and Ginger need your help!

The Government is at it again, we need to fight for our rights in court.

THE DLCC's second annual " DOLLARS FOR DOGS" Campaign on behalf of Phillip and Ginger, the Huggins family.

Law abiding citizens are not being targeted by the ban". Former Attorney General for Ontario, Michael Bryant Sept 2005.

Nothing could be further from the truth if you happen to own a dog of unknown genetics in Ontario.

Knowing that any dog born with the wrong 'look' , Phillip Huggins made sure his best friend, an 8 year old " brown-haired" girl named Ginger was in full compliance with the regulations of DOLA.

On November 29, 2005, while Phillip's Mother was walking Ginger, leashed and muzzled, in a Toronto park, Ginger was savagely attacked by an unleased dog.

So savage was the attack on Ginger, that Buddy ( an alleged border collie/shepherd cross ) tore Ginger's muzzle off and inflicted severe injuries to both Phillip's mom and Ginger. Ginger now has permanent damage to her left eye.

Now you think that it would be the owner of Buddy, that would be charged.
But not so. Buddy's owner walked away VIRTUALLY scott free

Ginger wasn’t so lucky. The City of Toronto Animal Control Officers seized Ginger illegally, without warrant or consent of Ginger's owner.

Within hours, a 'destruction' order was placed on Ginger's life while Phillip was charged with 3 counts under DOLA. .Prosecutors attempted to strike a deal with Phillip, offering to drop all charges if he ' simply ' handed over Ginger to be killed. Phillip would have nothing to do with it and said he would fight to the end.

Ginger spent 3 ½ years incarcerated simply for defending herself and Phillip's mother.

As a result of the charges and the battle in court, Phillip lost his job, ended up on welfare and now suffers with depression.

Out of money and time, Clayton Ruby, an established Human Rights lawyer, took over the case. He knew the City of Toronto was wrongfully holding Ginger in the pound. Within days, Clayton Ruby went before a judge and Ginger was released back to her loving home until the next court date.

Despite a ruling which allowed Ginger to be free, the City of Toronto was granted an appeal on the ruling.

Phillip is yet again scheduled to appear in court again on May 26, 2010 at 10:30 AM The Court of Appeals for Ontario. Ginger is still at risk of losing her life.


As a result of the city of Toronto being granted an appeal, it is costing a lot more than what was anticipated.

If Phillip doesn't raise the funds, he may lose his appeal, Ginger will lose her life.

He has come this far, if he stops now the city will be granted the destruction order and Ginger will be destroyed.

Your financial help would be greatly appreciated.

Go to to donate


Please send payment in trust for Ginger to:

Ruby and Shiller
11 Prince Arthur Ave,
Toronto, ON
M5R 1B2

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Boxer mixes caught up in pit bull controversy

Boxer mixes caught up in pit bull controversy
Timothy Appleby
Toronto — From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Published on Wednesday, Feb. 03, 2010

Ontario's pit bull law claims more victims, including Rambo, a Brampton dog whose vet says he's a boxer. The city says he's a pit bull.

One veterinarian's boxer is another vet's pit bull.

As a result, Rambo and his sister Brittany are languishing behind bars at the City of Brampton's animal shelter, possibly headed for the death chamber.

Their aggrieved owners, meanwhile, complain that whatever the city may say, neither beast is a pit bull at all.

Pit bulls are a type of dog rather than a breed and have garnered numerous headlines and a couple of high-profile court hearings since an amendment to Ontario's Dog Owners' Liability Act took effect four years ago.

Under the new rules, pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers are outlawed; those already here were allowed to remain, providing they be muzzled and leashed.

Straightforward enough. However, the legislation also contains a clause banning any dog “that has the appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to” those specified.

For Rambo and Brittany, born in separate litters to the same parents, that inclusiveness has spelled bad news and their future looks bleak: If homes are not found for them outside Ontario they may be euthanized, though no execution date has been set.

Rambo belongs to 75-year-old Maria Gaspar. Brittany's home is across town with the Branco family.

Both were seized Jan. 13 by city animal control officials who said they believed the dogs were pit bulls.

Not so, says Rui Branco, who will host a press conference outside his Reeve Road home Wednesday morning in efforts to highlight the plight of the two siblings, neither of which is known to have attacked or threatened anyone.

Rather, their perceived sin rests with their lineage.

The dogs' mother was Jersey, a purebred boxer. No problem there.

But their dad was Tyson, born shortly after the pit bull law took effect in late November, 2005, and a survivor of the ban, apparently through an oversight. He was, nonetheless, classified as a pit bull, although Tyson's family vet disagrees, calling him “a healthy and well-socialized pet … a cross between an American bulldog and a boxer.”

Either way, Tyson's label as a pit bull means his offspring are deemed pit bulls, too.

“Animal Services has documentary and veterinary evidence that (Rambo and Brittany) are pit bulls,” city spokeswoman Mariam Mesbah said.

“The bottom line is that if the mother or the father is a pit bull and documented as such, any of their brood would be considered pit bulls. We are required by law to follow the legislation.”

Lawyer Megan Burkett, acting for the Brancos, is preparing a court motion to get both dogs back on grounds they were improperly seized, and says the law casts too wide a net.

“Tyson is an American bulldog and a boxer and if they wanted boxer to be in the legislation, it should have said boxer,” she said.

“That's what's causing the problem. Our position is that he looks like a boxer. A lot of breeds are being caught up in this that shouldn't be.”

Rambo's troubles began when he was spotted atop his doghouse in his fenced yard, and his detention left his elderly owner, Ms. Gaspar, distraught.

For the previous two years the city had licensed him as a boxer/American bulldog cross, she told a local newspaper, and his vaccination certificate states that.

Brittany was picked up later the same day. And her vet, Dr. David Kirkham, voices the same complaint of mistaken identity. “I don't understand why (city officials) are fighting me so hard on this,” he said.

“Brittany doesn't look anything like a pit bull.”

Last June, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to consider whether the four-year-old law is unconstitutional.