From the Sarnia Observer:
Suspected Pit Bulls on Death Row
Korinn Seabrook and Sonya Pimentel are desperate to stop Sarnia from euthanizing their puppies, but neither is optimistic they can be saved.
The women, who are friends, each adopted an 11-month-old dog they believe are boxer mixes from a mutual friend.
“Both the mom and the dad are boxer mix. My friend has the papers to prove it,” said Seabrook.
But Sarnia animal control officers say the puppies look like Staffordshire bull terriers, a breed that’s been illegal to own in Ontario since legislation was passed in 2005 to ban so-called pitbulls.
Seabrook’s dog Maddi went missing Sunday night near her home on Michigan Avenue. She believes the 30-pound pup escaped through a hole in the screen door.
“I stayed up all night looking for her,” she said. In the morning, she discovered Maddi at the Sarnia and District Humane Society.
The dog was running at large, had no licence and is not spayed, says Brad Loosley, the city’s acting deputy clerk. She was also judged to be “substantially similar” in appearance to a Staffordshire bull terrier.
The city seized the dog and impounded her, initially saying Maddi would be euthanized Thursday. She has since been granted a reprieve until Sept. 10 to give her owners an opportunity to prove she isn’t a Staffordshire bull terrier.
“I don’t like it anymore than anyone else,” said Loosley. “But the city has to enforce the provincial legislation.”
He said he’s trying to work with Seabrook and her boyfriend, but the paperwork they have is insufficient.
“It’s awkward. The onus is on them to prove it’s not a Staffordshire bull terrier. But paperwork that says mom and dad are boxers is not good enough.”
Seabrook tearfully admitted to “screwing up.”
“I know I should have had her licenced but I didn’t have the money,” she said. “But how can this be happening? I don’t want my dog to die.”
Loosley said the opinions of a veterinarian and an expert from the Canadian Kennel Club might help save Maddi. But Seabrook isn’t convinced and, besides, she doesn’t have the financial means to pay experts, she said.
“Maddi is a good dog and she doesn’t growl. She doesn’t even bark. She’s a sweetheart and it’s ripping my heart out.”
Pimentel owns another puppy from the same litter. Her dog Carter was impounded Tuesday morning in what she calls bizarre circumstances, she said.
“I was walking Carter on a leash along the sidewalk on Indian Road when a car pulled up and control officers grabbed him,” she said. “They said he looked like a pitbull and had no licence.”
She moved to Sarnia from St. Clair Township last week and hadn’t had time to get a licence, Pimentel said.
City officials told her they will euthanize Carter on Saturday unless she can prove he’s not a Staffordshire bull terrier, she said.
“I want to know what training or authority these animal control officers have to say my dog is a pitbull. I’m going to be at city hall with the papers (today). My three kids love him and he’s never hurt anyone.”
Seabrook said she’s inquired about dog blood tests but was told that can take two months.
Dogs judged to be Staffordshire bull terriers by city officers are impounded at least once a month and they are usually killed, Loosley said.
Way to go, Sarnia Animal Control! I feel so much safer knowing that you’re out there, rounding up anything that even looks vaguely like a Pit Bull, and killing it within days if the owners can’t prove it isn’t one.
Yes, that’s right – Sarnia doesn’t have to prove your dog is a Pit Bull to kill it, they only have to think it looks ‘substantially like one’. The onus is on you, the owner, to prove otherwise – something near to impossible for owners of a wide variety of mixes and unpapered purebreds.
Apparently, even knowing the parentage of your dog isn’t enough to prove to Sarnia Animal control that your dog isn’t a Pit Bull.
As AC Loosley says:
“The onus is on them to prove it’s not a Staffordshire bull terrier. But paperwork that says mom and dad are boxers is not good enough.”
So, you’ve got paperwork that says mom is a Boxer, and Dad is a Boxer, but this isn’t enough to make the puppies Boxers, too – because those sneaky Pit Bull genes are like that, sliding in and infiltrating otherwise innocent dog breeds.
Uh huh. Good science there, Sarnia AC.
Is anyone else particulary disturbed by the scene where Sarnia AC drives up to someone walking their leashed dog, and then in as fine a display of police state mentality as we can hope to see in Canada, they launch themselves out of the vehicle and tear the dog away from her owner (reportedly wrenching the dog owner’s arm in the process, according to a commentator who claims to have been there).
The dog’s crime? It looks sorta kinda maybe like a Pit Bull, so Sarnia AC says it “has no choice” but to kill it.
“We don’t like to do this but the law is the law. We’re just doing our job. If we ever let one go without proof we would be in a lot of trouble.”
A lot of trouble with who, pray tell? You think there’s some sort of master group out there doing random inspections of towns like Sarnia, making sure that AC has rounded up everything that looks vaguely Pit Bull-ish?
You guys enforce this stupid, pointless ‘law’ with this kind of over zealous enthusiasm because you like it. It gives guys with otherwise pretty boring jobs licence to act like Dirty Harry.
At the end of the day, however, you’re not a bunch of heroes, ridding the city of villains and protecting the citizenry.
You’re baby killers. You’re puppy killers. You’re murderers.
If you want to tell Sarnia Animal Control what you think of their ‘enthusiasm’ for killing anything that looks remotely like a Pit Bull, here’s their contact info:
Please call 519 332 0330 extension 351; TTY: 519 332 2664 at City Hall for Animal Control