He’s Solo, our singleton French Bulldog puppy, born last fall. He was cute then, and he’s still cute now – a happy little bundle of cream, with a big grin and even bigger ears.
Unfortunately, to the city of London, Ontario, Solo is just one more ‘potential Pit Bull’ – and they’re not taking any chances on him rampaging around the town, savaging stuffed animals and viciously attacking sticks.
After a few recent posts to the Frenchie mailing lists about the possible risk to French Bulldogs because of Ontario’s so-called ‘Pit Bull’ ban, I received an email from Solo’s mom. Solo lives with his family in London, Ontario, where he shares the house with two kids, his mom and dad and assorted small animals.
Solo’s mom, who has asked to remain anonymous for fear that they’ll be targeted by London Animal Control, related to me what had happened when she attempted to purchase a City of London Dog License for Solo.
Solo’s mom (whom I’m just going to call ‘dog mom’ from now on, for the sake of brevity) says she’d called Animal Control to ask about licensing her new dog, which she mentioned was an un neutered French Bulldog. AC told her that she should neuter him asap, in order to take advantage of their altered dog discount, but she told them that her breeder had advised her to wait until he was at least six months old. After providing her payment information, Dog Mom hung up and assumed that the license was all taken care of, and would be arriving in the mail.
A short time later that same day, Animal Control called her back, to say that there was a ‘problem’ with her application. Dog mom assumed she’d given them the wrong credit card number, but AC corrected her – the problem wasn’t with her card, it was with her dog. They were going to have to come to do a ‘personal inspection’ on him – and, in fact, someone was on their way as they were speaking. Dog mom mentioned to me that she’d had dog licenses from the City of London in the past with no problems, and that her black Lab had been licensed every year, without an inspection. This time, it seemed, an inspection was absolutely essential – and apparently urgent – to the London Animal Control.
Dog mom had her parents’ cats staying with her at the time, and since she knew the cats weren’t licensed (they weren’t hers, and they’re indoor cats, but the City of London is apparently inflexible about this rule, as well) she rushed to stash them away in an upstairs bedroom, all while frantically looking for the folder with Solo’s paperwork in it.
It suddenly hit her, as she was running around in a panic – why are they coming to inspect her dog? What were they expecting – or hoping – to find? Worried thoughts were passing through her head as she waited for the knock on the door. Was there something she didn’t know about French Bulldogs? What could they do to her dog if he was found to be the ‘wrong kind’ of breed?
An Animal Control van arrived in front of her house, and a uniformed female officer knocked on the door. She was greeted by a jumping, drooling, happy French Bulldog puppy who was busy trying to pull her jacket off.
The AC officer crouched down and ‘inspected’ Solo thoroughly, looking over every inch of him with due diligence. What could she have possibly been looking for so carefully, on a twelve pound puppy? Locking jaws? A hidden switchblade? Who knows. Finally, she mentioned that he was cute. At this point, Dog Mom had regained enough confidence to ask why he needed to be inspected, and was told that they “had to make sure he wasn’t a Pit Bull”. Dog Mom offered to provide his paperwork, but apparently the ‘inspection’ holds more weight than any mere ‘registration’ papers might.
Dog Mom wishes now she’d asked what would have happened if Solo had failed his inspection. I suspect she’d be happier not knowing the answer to that question.
There are numerous stories on the web about the fact that the City of London’s Animal Control seems to take the job of weeding out Pit Bulls very seriously. While other city’s Animal Control officers are reluctant to identify even possible Pit Bulls, for fear of what will happen to them, City of London AC reacts with a kind of zealous enthusiasm that can be more accurately compared to a witch hunt than to a normal enforcement of the law.
I was curious to learn if other Animal Control bodies were as enthusiastic about enforcing the Pit Bull laws as London is, so I made a few phone calls.
My first was to London Animal Control, where I was told very clearly that all dogs require a ‘personal inspection’ to ensure that they are not Pit Bulls. I asked what criteria they use for this determination, and they listed off a series of physical characteristics that could apply to almost any breed – or mixed breed – from a Boston Terrier to a Bullmastiff. I tried to capture the audio during the phone call, but iTunes crashed half way through, and I was pretty sure that the (already suspicious) Animal Control officer on the phone would figure out what I was doing if I asked him to start all over again, and speak a little more loudly.
My next call was to Kitchener Animal control. Was a personal inspection required? No, just proof of spay or neuter, in order to qualify for the discount. Same with Toronto, Owen Sound and Windsor. Looks like only London is actually chasing down, in person, every single dog in the city that applies for a license.
It’s good to see people who really enjoy their work.. even if their work is killing dogs who just happen to be of the wrong breed. Or who, like Solo, might fit an arbitrary check list of characteristics.
More Solo photos are below, or over on Flickr.