The fate of an Oshawa man’s pit bull may be up in the air but he’s already tattooed a tribute to his banned dog on the side of his body. “R.I.P. Leonidas Texas Mercieca,” reads the tattoo Jared Mercieca has on his torso, in memory of the dog he thought Oshawa Animal Services was going to euthanize on Monday. “He’s never bitten anybody, he’s a good dog,” Mercieca, 21, insisted. “It’s just not fair.” Mercieca took in Leo — a Texas Rednose Pit Bull — in September from friends of his family who left the province. The dog is deemed a banned animal under provincial legislation. Mercieca had taken Leo to the skateboard park last week, on a leash and wearing a muzzle. When he took Leo’s muzzle off to give him a drink of water, the dog started playing with a chew toy, Mercieca said. That’s when a City of Oshawa official appeared. “They told me, ‘You are supposed to have a muzzle on him,’” Mercieca recalled. The official asked for his name and driver’s licence, which he provided. The next day, Mercieca woke up to two animal services officials and two police officers at his front door. They asked him to sign papers and load his dog in their truck. Since Leo hadn’t been neutered, Mercieca said he thought he was signing over authority to officials to sterilize his dog. He expected authorities to return Leo if he paid a fine. Through a phone call later, he realized he had signed over ownership of the dog to the city and that Leo was to be put down on Monday. The issue stirred up a community of pit bull lovers on Facebook dedicated to getting the government to repeal breed-specific legislation. An Alberta woman had even offered to take the dog in and train him to be Mercieca’s service dog. Mercieca only has about a quarter of his hearing and had been using the dog as a makeshift service dog, his mom Ellen said. Jerry Conlin, Oshawa’s director of municipal law enforcement, clarified the dog wasn’t slated to be euthanized Monday but that doesn’t mean he will be spared. “The pit bull was surrendered to the city by a youth of 21 years of age,” Conlin said. “It’s a banned pit bull in the province of Ontario and because it was surrendered to the city, it now belongs to the city. It’ll be our decision on how we are going to deal with the situation now.” Oshawa seized 12 pit bulls in 2009. All of them were euthanized.
The Toronto Sun