OSHAWA -- Whenever Deanna Pike is feeling down, her dog Roxy is by her side, gently consoling her owner with unconditional love and affection.
But today, Ms. Pike is on her own, fighting to save Roxy after she claims City officials wrongfully seized the dog on Jan. 10, based purely on its appearance. "When I'm crying, she's right next to me," said Ms. Pike, speaking at a rally held on Feb. 5 outside St. George's Anglican Church, steps away from Oshawa City Hall.
"She's my best friend, really, and she's always there. It's lonely at the house without her." More than 50 people gathered at the rally, wielding signs of protest against Ontario's controversial pit bull legislation.
Jerry Conlin, Oshawa's director of municipal law enforcement, said staff with experience identifying breeds determined that four-year-old Roxy is a pit bull, a breed banned in Ontario excluding dogs born before 2005. He also says the dog was "acting aggressively" when it was seized while tied up outside a store. Ms. Pike maintains that her pet is a "boxer cross" and says City staff don't have the expertise to conclusively determine the dog's breed. "It just hurts that people can come take away a dog basically just because they feel like it."
Cheri DiNovo, MPP for the neighbourhood of Parkdale-High Park in Toronto, attended the rally to show her dedication to overturning what she called a "ridiculous" law. "We have killed in Ontario almost 1,000 dogs under the (Breed Specific Legislation) and for no good reason -- simply because of the way they look," Ms. DiNovo said. "These were not necessarily aggressive dogs, they were not dangerous dogs. It's just because they had a certain look and because people couldn't fight back."
Many of those in attendance at the rally heard about it through a Facebook page called Help Save Roxy, which was created to raise awareness about the issue. "It's heartbreaking," said Oshawa resident Pamela Correia, who brought along her own dog, a British Bulldog also named Roxy. "Every time I hear about another dog that we've lost over this, it's just terrible and affects all of us." An appeal hearing for the case has been scheduled for Feb. 7.