Sarnia, Ontario Dogs Suspected of Being Pit Bulls Saved by Moving to Quebec

Thanks to The Observer for this article on how the outlawing of Pit Bull type dogs is working out in parts of Canada. Seized dogs...
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Thanks to The Observer for this article on how the outlawing of Pit Bull type dogs is working out in parts of Canada.

Seized dogs spared euthanasia; Instead, purported pit bulls will be moved to Quebec, says lawyer for owners

Poirier, Jack / The Observer
Local News – Wednesday, June 20, 2007 @ 16:00

A family of dogs have been spared from death row.

A Bay Street lawyer says he has convinced Sarnia city staff to move the dogs, suspected of being pit bulls, to new owners living in Quebec.

Chris Avery said he felt compelled to come to the dogs’ defence after seeing a news report detailing how the city’s animal control officers seized the animals. The story first appeared in The Observer.

Avery said the city was trying to backdoor its way into euthanizing the dogs.

He tracked down the family and offered his services.

“As a dog lover I was horrified by it,” said Avery.

The dogs, belonging to Brian Edwards and his girlfriend, Cassie Bates, were seized June 6. The mother, Rowen, and her two-month-old pups had been scheduled to be euthanized today.

The city has since agreed to another extension to allow for the dogs to be moved to Quebec.

“The city took the back door on this” by not charging the owners, said Avery.

Had they been charged, Sarnia would have to prove the dogs are pit bulls, he said. But by seizing the dogs the burden of proof falls to the owners.

“This way there is no trial, there’s no hearing, there’s no evidence. That’s what’s got me banging my head against the wall.”

Ontario’s Dog Liabilities Act states that any seized dog believed to be an unregistered pit bull can be destroyed or moved out of province. Avery said he’s found willing owners in Quebec.

The lawyer also warned that other dog owners could face the same problem as the Edwards family.

“A poorly bred lab can pass as a pit bull,” he said. “The law is too vague.”

The legislation has been challenged by the Dog Legislation Council of Canada. A superior court judge deemed portions of the law unconstitutional in late March and said the definition of a pit bull is too vague.

Locally, the Edwards family has collected 1,000 signatures on a petition following a pair of weekend rallies held outside city hall and the humane society.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said the issue isn’t one that should be directed to council.

“It’s a bad law,” he said, but added the city is only trying to comply with the province’s legislation.

Follow this link to read the rest of the article.

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