Bullmarket French Bulldog Breeders

The dogs are safe – for now

Media release:

Dear Members of Council,

The City of Sarnia is arranging for the release of the three mixed-breed dogs that were detained on the basis of having similar characteristics to a “Pit Bull” as outlined by the Dog Owners Liability Act (DOLA).

Following the detentions, the dogs Capone, Maddie and Carter were examined by an expert of the owners choice and one of the City’s choice.

Both examinations found that the dogs were not “Pit Bulls” nor do they have the appearance or physical characteristics of the “Pit Bull” breed.

While the dogs were detained, extensions were given to the euthanasia of the dogs to allow for the examinations.

The City wanted to get the necessary information to ensure the right decision was made and that is now the case.

Following discussions with the owners’ lawyer, the dogs will be released to their owners subject to them being spayed and neutered in accordance with the recommendations of the owners’ expert.

The city is satisfied that the release of the dogs back to their owners is the right decision and will work with the owners to ensure that the recommendations are followed in the release.

Lloyd Fennell
City Manager

We can’t any of rest easy, however. The law which allowed – encouraged! – this stupid, money sucking, owner and dog traumatizing circus o’ stupidity still stands, and until it’s knocked down, none of us are safe.

You’re not even safe if you’re just traveling through Ontario, on your way to someplace else, as this letter posted on the DLCC website, from former Ontario tourism minister Jim Bradley, makes abundantly clear.

Ministry of Tourism and Recreation
9th Floor, Hearst Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2E1
Tel: (416) 326-9326
Fax: (416) 326-9338

File Reference Number: XXX

April 7, 2005

Dear Ms. XXXXX :

Thank you for your e-mail messages about the Ontario government’s new legislation banning pit bulls. I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns, and I apologize for the delay in responding to you.

Ontario’s Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005 became law on March 9, 2005, and it amends the Dog Owners’ Liability Act. The new legislation will come into effect on August 29, 2005, banning pit bulls and their importation into Ontario. The new law also places restrictions on existing pit bulls and toughens penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public. Pit bulls already legally resident in the province before the date the law comes into force may remain legally in Ontario, subject to certain conditions, such as compliance with leash, muzzle and sterilization requirements. Accordingly, law-abiding owners of existing pit bulls in Ontario need not give up their dogs.

Importing pit bulls into Ontario will be prohibited after August 29, 2005. Pit bulls not legally resident in Ontario prior to this date will be subject to seizure, and persons found to have imported a pit bull into Ontario will be in violation of the law and may be subject to fines and/or jail. There are no exceptions for tourists, including those simply passing through Ontario with their pit bulls, apart from a limited exception for individuals participating in a recognized dog show. You can find further information about the legislation on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website at: www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca

Ontario greatly values its visitors from Canada, the United States and abroad. We are proud of the many world-class tourism attractions and experiences in Ontario, and we are working hard to provide a safe and welcoming province for visitors and residents alike. For more information on traveling in Ontario, please visit www.ontariotravel.net, or call toll free 1-800-Ontario (1-800-668-2746).

Again, thank you for advising me of your concerns, which I will share with my Cabinet colleague, the Honorable Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Bradley

You’re not safe in Ontario, no matter what breed you own, and no matter how much you want to believe that this law has nothing to do with you. It is, quite simply, a concerted effort to curtail our rights to own the dogs of our choice, and to exterminate the dogs that the puppet masters find ‘unacceptable’.

Sarnia is still on my ‘do not visit list’, and I suggest they stay on yours, too. In fact, that might apply to the entire province, if this kind of stupidity keeps up.

8 replies
  1. John M
    John M says:

    This is a hollow victory – these folks managed to get a spotlight shined on their plight and an expert to volunteer his time. How many dog owners will not have the resources or knowledge to call on public attentiona and outrage, and how many dogs will just slip away under the radar due to this policy? As an American and an attorney, I have to believe that an overbroad, vague ordinance depriving people of their property without due process, such as the Ontario laws, would summarily be found unconstitutional in this country (which is not to say that narrower BSL such as mandatory spay/neuter would not pass muster here). I certainly hope that you folks are able to successfully mount a legal challenge.

  2. Susan
    Susan says:

    I guess the lives of the dogs is worth letting them have their little save-face lie about their expert agreeing — in fact, that may set a bit of useful precedent should another lab/boxer mix come under their radar. It’s probably just as well they neuter the dogs, but I wonder whether the owners’ expert really recommended that.

    One of our own councilmen introduces draconic BSL legislation every single year…and so far every year it gets shot down. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  3. Isabelle
    Isabelle says:

    The dogs are safe; this is great news!

    I wonder whether the owners were charged the cost of keeping their dogs in the clink…I mean under the loving care of Sarnia’s AC?
    Does anyone reading this blog have contacts in Michigan?
    Duck hunting season is upon us and it means major american $$$ to Kent County and region.
    Guess where most of these hunters cross the border?
    They may interested in knowing their gun dogs are not safe; hey, if Sarnia AC deemed a Viszla to be a Pittie, anything can happen…

    More to the point, Carol, you are so right to say this is a concerted attack against our right to responsibly own and enjoy our pets, and to make all dog owners into potential criminals.
    It is my opinion that good government DOES NOT answer citizens’ concern(s) with off the cuff, ill thought out and poorly worded legislation(s).
    And we elected these people…!? Geeweez, friends, time to seriously rethink this one out say I!

  4. Jenniferj
    Jenniferj says:

    While I am thrilled these dogs are getting the reprieve they should NEVER have had to fight for in the first place, slapping essentially MSN on them and the owners is disturbing.

    It’s not likely they needed to reproduce, but it’s a bad precedent. “Hey, we’ll let you take your frenchie, EB, redbone coonhound home, but only if you agree to altering it. Otherwise we’ll call it a pit bull and kill it” Blechh, would not go near Sardinia and will be telling the bulldog community to give them a wide berth until dog owners are not treated like terror suspects and the City fixes it’s totally frakked up AC and priorities.

  5. Susan
    Susan says:

    I’m going to go all legal on you for a little, but it is US law and I don’t know if Canada follows the same. A law can be struck down as unconstitutional here as written (on its face), which I know your courts refused to do, or AS APPLIED, meaning the way it is being interpreted by the government. I’m not that familiar with the Court case attacking the law either, so I don’t know whether that was even an argument being made. But over here, I think there would be a clear violation of due process by making the owners have the burden of proof. Is there a written decision in the case that upheld the pit bull law? I’d love to read it. Of course, I am assuming you have property rights protected by due process the way we do, but I don’t think that’s a stretch.

    • John M
      John M says:

      I completely agree, as I noted above. In the US, there’s no way a law like this one would fly. It is a violation of due process on its face. On the other hand, there are a lot of BSL laws on the books in the USA which are less extreme, e.g. no breeding of “pit bulls,” presas, etc. These are all government interference with private property, but they are harder to challenge if narrowly tailored to avoid due process concerns. Ironically, it is now easier to challenge gun restrictions (which arguably have a more rational basis in public safety concerns) than “dangerous dog” laws, because the Second Amendment (right to bear arms for all of our Canadian friends) has now been interpreted as an individual (not just collective) right.

      • frogdogz
        frogdogz says:

        OK, no need for me to have someone blog it here, as Caveat already explained the court case challenging the law, in detail, on this entry —


        In terms of how laws that “aren’t constitutional” can still be applied to Pit Bulls (and dogs which aren’t Pit Bulls, but have been labeled so), the best educational reading is Vicki Hearne’s most excellent book, “Bandit – Dossier of a Dangerous Dog”.

        In the segment I’m referring to, Vicki explains the court case to a Harvard Law Professor who exclaims, more or less, “Why, that can’t be constitutional!”, and this about a court case in Stamford, CT. Vicki, of course, cheers up – after all, if it’s not constitutional, this should all be easy. Someone just explains to the judge how exactly this should have never gone to court in the first place, and the judge tosses it all out and returns the dog to its owner. Vicki’s long and painful education in how things that are “not constitutional” can STILL be upheld by the courts leads to her eventual pondering on whether or not Harvard School of Law perhaps doesn’t exist…

        It really is a book that you must read, if you are at all interested in law, dogs and the things that can be done in the name of justice to us and to our animals.


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