Thursday, July 27, 2017

OSPCA To Finally Release Pit Bulls After Nearly Two Years

Yesterday news came that the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) has, "spared" 18, "Pit Bulls" from euthanasia. While of course this is true, I would have liked to see the headline include praise for Dog Tales Rescue, the Ontario Court, and the thousands of animal lovers (including celebrities) who voiced their disgust with the way these animals were being treated. For a full timeline of this debacle since the beginning, I have included each of the press releases from the OSPCA over the past two years. I urge you to read them all. Below yesterday's press release I'll offer my thoughts :

Dog Fighting Operation Exposed in Chatham-Kent - October 9, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - CHATHAM-KENT (October 9, 2015) - As part of a Joint Forces Operation, early this morning, members of the Ontario SPCA Major Case Management Team, Chatham-Kent Police Service Intelligence Unit, Critical Incident Response Team, Forensic Identification Unit, Major Crime Section and Community Patrol Branch executed multiple warrants at a residence in Tilbury East Township.

Approximately 40 dogs were seized from the property and placed into the care of the Ontario SPCA. The animals were found in various health conditions and will be individually assessed by a veterinarian. A treatment plan will be created based on their needs.
A large quantity of evidence that is consistent with the training of dogs to fight was seized. In addition to the dogs and training equipment, a number of firearms were also found and seized.

Due to the complexity of this incident and large amount of evidence found on the property, this investigation will be on-going.

A 43-year-old man, 41-year-old man and 39-year-old woman, all from that same location, are facing animal cruelty and firearm related offences as per the Criminal Code of Canada. They will be held in custody pending a bail hearing.

PRESS CONFERENCE – Update on Dog Fighting Operation Investigation - October 9, 2015

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92 additional charges to be laid in alleged dog fighting ring in Tilbury - CTV News - October 15, 2015

92 additional charges to be laid in alleged dog fighting ring in Tilbury  - CTV News  - Read article

Update on Dog Fighting Operation in Chatham - Tilbury Trio Face an Additional 276 Charges - October 15, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Chatham-Kent, ON (October 15, 2015) - On October 9, 2015, as part of a joint-forces operation, members of the Ontario SPCA and Chatham-Kent Police Service executed three warrants at a residence on Morris Line in Tilbury East Township.
 31 ‘pit bull type’ dogs and a large quantity of evidence consistent with the training of dogs to fight was seized. Fifteen shotguns and rifles along with a significant amount of marijuana was also found and seized.
 Initially, John Robert, 43 years, Kim Robert, 39 years, and Michel Gagnon, 41 years, all of Morris Line were each charged with two counts of animal cruelty and two counts of careless storage of a firearm.
 The dogs have been placed in the care of the Ontario SPCA where they are continuing to be individually assessed and treated.
 As a result of the fluid investigation, and tremendous amount of evidence located and seized from the scene, investigators have now laid additional charges.
 This morning, the Chatham-Kent Police Service charged each of the accused with the following 92 additional charges:
- 31 counts of Unlawfully Owning a Pit Bull Type Dog contrary to Dog Owner’s Liability Act
- 30 counts of Cruelty to Animals – causing unnecessary pain, suffering, injury to an animal contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada
- 15 counts of Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada
- 11 counts of Careless Storage of a Firearm contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada
- 4 counts of Unauthorized Possession of a Prohibited or Restricted Weapon contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada
- 1 count of Possession for the Purposes of Trafficking contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
 All three were remanded into custody following their arrest on Friday. They are all scheduled to appear in bail court today.

Update on the alleged Dog Fighting case in Tilbury, Ontario - February 17, 2016

Tuesday February 17, 2016 - The Ontario SPCA would like to provide further information on the care of the dogs involved in an alleged dog fighting case outside of Tilbury, Ontario.
What is Dog Fighting?
Dog fighting is one of the most heinous forms of animal cruelty. Animals used in Dog Fighting operations are typically raised in isolation and spend most of their lives chained up in an unacceptable living environment. Many of the dogs involved undergo alterations to their ears and tails to limit the animal’s ability to express emotion. This modification is often done by an untrained individual and can be traumatizing for the animal. The dogs are conditioned for fighting through regular use of drugs, including anabolic steroids to enhance muscle mass, which also encourage aggressiveness.
Dog Fighting has been known to happen in a variety of locations ranging from back alleys to carefully-staged settings. The fights typically take place in a 14-20 square-foot pit designed to contain the dogs and can last just a few minutes or be as long as several hours. All the animals involved may suffer injuries including puncture wounds, lacerations, blood loss, crushing injuries and broken bones. Although fights are not usually to the death, many dogs succumb to their injuries later, and losing dogs are often discarded, killed or brutally executed as part of the “sport.”
In many cases Dog Fighting is often associated with other forms of criminal activity including illegal gambling and possession of drugs and firearms.
The Ontario SPCA has served as Ontario’s Animal Welfare Charity since 1873. In all of the Ontario SPCA’s animal cruelty cases, animal care is our top priority. The Ontario SPCA engages industry experts to work with the animals to meet their specific needs as required. This case is of no exception.
In late 2015, working with Chatham-Kent Police Service, 31 dogs were removed from the property near Tilbury Ontario, during an investigation into an alleged dog fighting operation and brought into the care of the Ontario SPCA.
Three of the dogs have been humanely euthanized for medical reasons after two veterinarians deemed that euthanasia was the most humane option. Of the remaining 28 dogs, each dog is being cared for and assessed individually to address the needs of that animal.
The Ontario SPCA does not own the dogs involved in this case. The outcome is before the courts and will be determined by a Justice of the Peace. The Society has provided the courts with all the information we have gathered on the health and condition of the animals, including independent reports shared by our industry experts in assessing the behaviour of dogs used in fighting. Euthanasia of any animal is always a last resort. It is a decision made after consultation with experts and after all options for the health and safety of the public and of the animals have been exhausted.
Generally speaking, if any dogs are adoptable or can be rehabilitated, regardless of the breed, all efforts are made to place these dogs into living situations suitable to their temperament. This includes working with rescues and sanctuaries to have adoptable pit bulls transferred out of the province of Ontario.
The 28 dogs from this investigation will remain in the care of the Ontario SPCA while the case is ongoing, or until a decision is made by a Justice of the Peace.
The Society thanks the public who have come forward to provide support for the care of the dogs and the industry experts who have taken the time to work with these dogs while they have been in our care. We will continue to update the public as we have more information to share

The Ontario SPCA provides more information into the expert analysis on the dogs involved in a recent dog fighting case. - February 19, 2016

Newmarket, ON (February 19, 2016) - The Ontario SPCA has received inquiries on the assessment process of the dog fighting dogs in our care. The Society would like to clarify some misinformation; the breed of the animals is not a factor in the assessment. The information gathered is focused on the behavior of the animal. The dogs are not legally owned by the Ontario SPCA and as such, the Society does not have the jurisdiction to relocate the animals. All of our rehabilitation work and assessments with these fighting dogs, by law, must be done in our care.
As mentioned in an earlier statement, euthanasia is always a last resort. The Society continues to work with each animal individually to assess the needs of the animal including bringing in experts in dog fighting behavior rehabilitation.
For this case, the Society reached out to the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team to provide their expertise. This highly trained team has been involved in some of the largest dog fighting cases in North America.
The Society’s assessments and rehabilitation of the dogs continue as the animals remain in our care. The goal of the Society is always to try to rehabilitate and rehome the animals when we are able, this includes adoptable Pit Bull-type dogs. We will continue to focus on this goal as this investigation continues.

A Fifth Person has been Charged in Connection with Dog Fighting Operation - March 2, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - KENT COUNTY, ON (March 2, 2016) - In October of 2015 a joint investigation between the Chatham-Kent Police Service and the Ontario SPCA Major Case Management Team resulted in the execution of multiple search warrants at an address on Morris Line in Tilbury East Township. The investigation into a suspected Dog Fighting Operation has thus far resulted in four (4) people being arrested and over 300 charges laid under the Criminal Code of Canada, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and Dog Owner’s Liability Act.
On March 1, 2016, as a result of this ongoing investigation, members of the Chatham-Kent Police Service arrested Robert TOMLIN, 32 years of Kent Bridge for the Criminal Code offences of:
- Cruelty to Animals – causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal and,
- Cruelty to Animals – encourages, aids or assists in the fighting or baiting of animals
As a result of the circumstances surrounding the arrest, two (2) Search Warrant were authorized under the Dog Owner’s Liability Act for two (2) properties in the Kent Bridge area which led to the seizure of seven (7) Pitbull type dogs which are prohibited in the Province of Ontario. The dogs are being housed in a location outside of Chatham-Kent.
Senior Inspector Jennifer Bluhm of the Ontario SPCA says:
“As with any investigation, each animal is assessed individually. The Society will be working with experts in animal behaviour that specialize in dog fighting dogs to ensure the needs identified by the experts are addressed for each of these dogs. We will update the public on their care as we have more information to share.”
TOMLIN has been released with conditions pending a future court date of March 22, 2016.

STATEMENT: 21 Dogs involved in an Alleged Dog Fighting Operation - December 26, 2016

"The Ontario SPCA would like to take a moment to help explain some misinformation. Over a year ago several dogs involved in an alleged dog fighting operation came in to the care of the Ontario SPCA. We all care about these dogs and the Ontario SPCA wants to reassure the public that each one of the dogs in our care is being well cared for with the love and attention they require. We will always advocate for rehabilitation first, however safety for both other animals and the public takes precedent.

There are currently two groups of dogs in our care that have come from this dogfighting operation. 18 dogs are doing very well with their rehabilitation plans and are moving towards adoption. As mentioned earlier, we always advocate for rehabilitation first and we are pleased to see the progress these dogs are making.
There are 21 dogs that continue to be a threat to the safety of other animals, public safety and continue to show signs of unprovoked and dangerous aggression. 
These dogs have been deemed some of the most aggressive dogs ever assessed by the world’s experts, the ASPCA. The triggers for dangerous behaviours are not always known and they continue to reveal themselves as we provide them the care they require.
Sadly these specific dogs are unpredictable. They were bred to fight and then trained to kill. As mentioned earlier, these assessments were made by the world leaders in dog fighting dog rehabilitation. They have successfully rehabilitated hundreds of dogs from dog fighting operations. After working with these dogs they said that these 21 dogs were the most game dogs they have ever seen.  They are not pets, their focus is to kill.
The Ontario SPCA’s role in this case is the caregiver of the animals. These dogs are considered evidence in a dogfighting investigation. The Ontario SPCA has charged the owners under the Criminal Code of Canada and, acting under contract on behalf of the municipality of Chatham-Kent, the Dog Owner’s Liability Act. As these animals are part of a cruelty investigation we do not have legal grounds to hand them over to any organization or rescue group. Only a judge can make this decision. The Ontario SPCA has provided the courts with the assessments of the dogs. Knowing what we know about these dogs, it would be irresponsible not to provide this information to the judge.
The Ontario SPCA understands the public's concern for these dogs as we too care deeply about these animals. Our staff have been providing daily care for the dogs for over a year and work tirelessly to ensure the dogs are provided the nurturing they need."

Update on 21 Dogs - February 3, 2017



Dogs seized in alleged dog fighting operation to be given a new opportunity - July 25, 2017

"Press release - July 25, 2017, Stouffville, Ontario – The Ontario SPCA and Dog Tales have worked together to create an option for the dogs seized in a criminal investigation of an alleged dog fighting operation in Chatham, Ontario.
The court accepted a joint submission that sees the dogs transported to Florida to take part in an enrichment program under the direction of Aimee Sadler, Director of Training and Behavior at Playing for Life. Aimee Sadler has also agreed to assume ownership of the dogs.
The dogs have been under the care of the Ontario SPCA for almost the last two years by Order of the courts. While in the Society’s care, the dogs have received daily enrichments, specialized care and human interaction in a purpose-built facility.
“The dogs are getting an extraordinary opportunity due to the resources that Dog Tales is providing.  We have been pleased to work in partnership with them on this outcome and hope to work with them on other initiatives. Our role in this case has always been to provide the balance between the welfare of these dogs, the safety of other animals and public safety. We need to remember that dog fighting is a criminal act.” says Deputy Chief Jennifer Bluhm, Ontario SPCA.
It is important to remember these dogs range in behaviours from extremely aggressive to unpredictable. These dogs were bred to fight and trained to kill, and a wagging tail is not always a clear sign these dogs are safe for human or dog interaction.
The dogs have undergone two expert assessments. The court has ordered one of the dogs (Dog 9) be euthanized as it has been deemed dangerous under the Dog Owners Liability Act.
The Criminal Case is still proceeding. Additionally, the charges laid under the Dog Owners Liability Act are still before the court with a pending court date of August 24, 2017."

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While I am beyond elated these dogs will now have a chance at a life filled with love and care, one they were never afforded in the first place, I am beyond disappointed that it has taken nearly 2 years to achieve the outcome. For its part, the OSPCA hasn't been able to provide a consistent story. Remember, be it not for public outcry and media attention these dogs would have been euthanized (much like in 2010 when the OSPCA cited what later was revealed to be a fake strain of, "virulant ringworm" as reason for euthanizing 102 animals at its headquarters). At first these dogs were, "some of the most aggressive ever" yet now they are willing to release them?

The OSPCA was 100% correct that it did not have the authority to release the dogs until ordered to do so by the court. Why on earth was this decision not made on the very first court date? Why has the case dragged on for nearly two years with multiple court dates? I understand the OSPCA wanted to ensure it would not be considered legally responsible if anything happened these dogs or any citizens, that is completely fair. The question remains however, why did the OSPCA not choose to legally absolve ownership of the dogs to Dog Tales Rescue at the beginning? This decision would have saved all parties involved time and money, and these dogs would now be months ahead in their rehabilitation.

I'm not sure of the answers to these questions. What's important now is these dogs are on their way to a happy environment where they will receive the specialized care they have deserved for nearly two years. Good luck doggies!!

As always feel free to share your opinion on the Toronto Pet Daily Facebook page.