Wednesday, September 9, 2009

There but for the grace of God

From this morning's Herald
Pit bull look-alike spared the noose
N.S. rescue group saves dog from being put down under Ontario’s breed banBy PAT LEE Staff ReporterWed. Sep 9 - 4:45 AM
Fenway, a small mixed-breed dog, was to have been euthanized in Ontario after being deemed a pit bull. Instead, the dog has been brought to Nova Scotia for adoption by Ador-A-Bull, a rescue group that has found homes for about 30 dogs from Ontario since that province passed its controversial breed ban in 2005.

Given up by her owners because they were going on vacation, little Fenway was tagged to be put down at an Ontario shelter because someone deemed her to be a pit bull, a banned dog in that province.
But thanks to some volunteers working quietly behind the scenes, the young 4.5-kilogram dog was spirited away last week and is now in a foster home in Cape Breton.
Barring anything unforeseen in temperament and health checks, the pooch will be put up for adoption and go to a home in Nova Scotia.
Lee Anne Tibbo of Marion Bridge, who volunteers with the Ador-A-Bull Dog Rescue organization to find homes here and in New Brunswick for breeds targeted in Ontario, is looking after Fenway until then.
Ms. Tibbo, who also runs Boxer Rescue, said she doubts the brindle-coloured dog has any pit bull in her given her small size and pointy snout. Instead, she thinks the young dog may be a whippet mix.
But she said the breed ban in Ontario is so vague that almost any dog can meet the criteria.
"They’re basically classified as a short-haired dog with a square head. But really, that’s it," she said Tuesday.
"It’s very interpretative."
Ms. Tibbo said she and others can’t stand by and watch dogs be put to death because of how they look.
"I can’t close my eyes and pretend it’s not happening," she said.
"They’re going to euthanize perfectly good dogs, and the dogs don’t deserve it."
Ador-A-Bull ( was started in Ontario in 2005 after the province passed its controversial breed ban legislation that covers American pit bulls, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers.
The rescue group has since expanded into Nova Scotia to help dogs closer to home.
Ms. Tibbo said they have saved about 30 dogs from being put to death in Ontario, including a lot of puppies, but adult dogs have found new homes as well.
"I would love to not have to bring any dogs from Ontario," she said.
"Seriously, there are enough here. But I do it to protect the dogs."
Last year, Ador-A-Bull famously helped a dog named Rambo find a new home in Nova Scotia after its Ontario owner sued the province to have him freed from a kennel before he was put down.
"He’s doing wonderfully," Ms. Tibbo said of Rambo, who was marked for death because he looked like a pit bull.
"He’s one of my favourites."
She said in Fenway’s case, her owners dumped her at a shelter as they were getting set to go away on holiday.
"They decided they would get a new dog when they got back from vacation," she said.
Fenway was thought to be a six-week-old pit bull puppy, but Ms. Tibbo believes she is older than that.
"I don’t know how old she is at this point, but she’s not growing very much. She could just be a small dog." she said.
"But she’s healthy and happy."
Ms. Tibbo, who has five dogs of her own, plans to get Fenway DNA-tested to nail down the breed "to prove a point."
Over time, Ador-A-Bull volunteers have built up relationships with some shelters in Ontario, which will tip them off when there’s a dog destined to be put down because of the breed ban.
"Rather than euthanize them, they’ll give us the option to test them," she said.
"We can’t save all of them, but we’ll take the best of the best."
The shelter will then release the dog to the rescue group on the condition that it is adopted outside of Ontario.
"We have a few foster homes who will hide them and then we get them out (of Ontario) as soon as possible," Ms. Tibbo said.
She said potential adopters are well screened before they can receive a dog from the group.
Many times when the debate about breed bans surfaces, most people think that it doesn't affect them ..... ergo that it is not something that they need concern themselves with.
Unlike the NS government, who tried to sneak BSL in undercover in a piece of municipal house keeping legislation, Bill 138, there was a show of public hearings in Ontario before the government railroaded it in. But anyone who wasn't there at the time can read on the Banned Aid
At Ontario's public hearings every credible dog expert, including veterinarians, trainers, groomers and technicians opposed the proposed breed specific legislation while applauding aspects of the legislation that would apply equally to all dog owners. Yet the government chose to ignore the advice of the experts and passed breed specific legislation.
(The subject of how BSL was used as a smokescreen to divert voters from the Ont Liberal governments inability to successfully address the gang problem in their province is a separate rant deserving of a post of its own)
At the end of the day, the one thing that BSL in Ontario does is continually highlight to the rest of the country that it BSL is only a political panacea that:
  • fails to address any issues about dangerous dogs in any meaningful way
  • creates a false sense of public security, and last but not least
  • kills dogs of all stripes without improving public safety in any way

Many people choose to live in Nova Scotia because of its well promoted lifestyle and values. Personally, I retired here because I believe it generally is a good place to live.

In this day and age of political PR and spin .... where Ontario voters can shift overnight from horror to acceptance of dead cyclists, they clearly aren't going to concern themselves with BSL in sufficient numbers to make a change.

As our new NDP government gets ready to start the fall session in the House of Assembly, this would be a great time for anyone who owns a pet to lend the strength of their voice to ARPO - Advocates for Responsible Pet Ownership.

The single thing that politicians of all stripes understand is numbers. Last year, strong voter feedback was the single reason that we are not wrestling with the problems created by BSL in our own province. Strength in numbers is the only reason that the hardworking volunteers with groups like Ador-A-Bull Rescue are able to save innocent dogs from Ontario instead of sending NS dogs elsewhere.

What time is it? Its time to give ARPO the tools it needs to remind our politicians that BSL would make Nova Scotia a horrible place to live.

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