Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It's 'Dog Racism'

Owner: It's 'dog racism'
Fur flies as pit bull-type pooches -- and owners -- head to court

Something happened between two dogs around 6:15 a.m. in Scarborough on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2005.

It was pre-dawn on that dark, damp, drizzly day and what happened, happened fast, the way things often do with dogs.

The "something" that happened between the two animals erupted seemingly for no apparent reason.

Suddenly, a routine walk between dogs and walkers turned from calm canine companionship into a tangle of flesh, fur and fangs.

There were only two witnesses. The two dogs and the two women -- one a 50-year-old registered nurse and the other a 45-year-old community worker. Both had innocently ventured out that dank autumn day to exercise the pets they adore.

What we know is that the dogs fought. Who started it has yet to be determined and there are always at least two sides to every story.

Though each woman tells her story completely differently and the case is now before the courts, we'll never know exactly what happened.

There is no absolute truth in this world. Ever.

But what we do know is that one of the dogs, a 5-year-old female named Ginger, an alleged pit bull-type, is now on death row in one of the city's Animal Control Centres awaiting trial on June 8.

And the other, Buddy, a 12-year-old-German shepherd-border collie mix, is fully recovered and at home with his owner.

We know both women have sons. And we know that neither owner is particularly fond of Bill 132, Canada's first province-wide breed-specific ban on pit bull-type dogs. It came into effect on Aug. 29, 2005.

"I've never been a supporter of breed specific legislation," says Jody Macdonald, owner of Buddy, the shepherd-border collie mix. "It's a form of dog racism."

The nurse asked that her name not be used. She had her right ring finger badly bitten during the incident when she tried to stop it and she's facing surgery.

And she's not Ginger's owner -- her son is.

"I used to work at a graphics company, but I was let go because they kept pulling me into court," he said in a telephone interview last week.

"Now I'm working side jobs, painting houses. I'm paying $2,000 for this trial and somebody in Kingston has put up the rest. I'm scared for my dog. They can't blame the breed. This dog came to me out of love and all she wants is to be loved."

Lawyer Clayton Ruby adds: "Bad dogs are created or selected by people who deliberately seek an aggressive animal. Ban one breed, and these people migrate to another large muscular breed."

Ruby is mounting a constitutional challenge to Bill 132 on behalf of The Dog Legislation Council of Canada (DLCC), one of the five member organizations of the Banned Aid Coalition.


And Ottawa lawyer Terrance L. Green is making his name by defending impounded dogs, getting them off death row and freeing their owners, if they have been jailed under this new Dog Owner's Liability Act.

There is a fundamental flaw in this act according to Eletta Purdy, city-wide manager of Toronto Animal Services, and a veterinary technician.

"We assess dogs as a matter of course, but with the pit bull-type of dog, there are three breeds.

"I know, it's not a breed, it's a type, so we have to look at the animal's behaviour. Certain characteristics. Pit bull is a catch-all phrase," she says.

"But it's a difficult piece of legislation the way it reads. We do assessments as a matter of course, but it's difficult when you have a cross. That's why we speak of a pit bull-type, not a breed," she says. "It's not what you'd call a win-win."

Ruby explains it this way.

"Ninety-nine percent of all pit bulls are loving kind dogs. Why kill all newborn pit bulls to save a tiny percentage of deliberately abused animals from rotten owners?" says Ruby.

Is Ginger's owner, who is seeking psychiatric counselling to help him cope with his dog's exile, a rotten owner?

The case goes to court on May 15 and 16.

Meanwhile, a tony, invitation-only, $350-a-plate fundraiser called the "Bully Ball" next Saturday night at the Imperial Room of the Royal York will raise funds to pay his fees.

Justice is expensive, these days, especially if you're a dog.


Blogger Conners said...

The two dogs fought, yet only the 'alledged' pit bull type is on death row while the other is at home recuperating. Nobody says if the 'alleged' pit bull type suffered any injuries that required medical attention.
Right off the bat, the alledged dog is the culprit. OHHHH I GET SOOO MAD!!!
Terry Green is expensive, but is doing terrifically helping the pitties. I'm glad he's on our side too!

1:15 AM  

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