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.