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When I first started volunteering at Toronto Animal Services South, the anti-Pit Bull law in Ontario was not on my radar. I had no previous dealings with Pit Bulls and I didn't know anyone who had a Pit Bull. I'd heard grumblings, mostly from big media organizations, about what evil dogs they were but didn't really pay them a lot of attention - no more than I would've paid attention to news about, for example, hurricanes in some other part of the world. Yeah, it was a problem but it wasn't my problem.

That's not to say the constant negative media stereotyping against Pit Bulls didn't affect me at all. It did. Also, though I never had any direct dealings with Pit Bulls, I'd seen a few of them in the neighbourhood pulling around their crack dealing/using owners and gangsta wannabes and that certainly coloured my impression of those dogs.

My attitude back then towards Pit Bulls wasn't o-my-god-save-me-from-those-jaws-of-death but if I was given a multiple choice on the level of comfort I'd have with a Pit Bull in my house, I'd probably have chosen c. Sleep with one eye open.

Stereotyping is a funny thing. On the one hand, it enables us humans to make snap decisions about stuff so we don't have to approach everything like we're perpetual babes in the woods with no life experiences to draw upon whatsoever. For instance, tomorrow, I'm going to go to work and assume all the people there, even the ones I've never met before, speak English. That assumption makes things a lot easier and more pleasant for everyone involved.

On the other hand, stereotyping can blind us to reality. So sure, I'd read all those news reports about Pit Bull attacks but somehow I'd forgotten that any breed of dog, in the wrong circumstances, can be dangerous as well. And sure, I'd seen the Pit Bulls belonging to the neighbourhood machismo-seeking dirtbags but I'd also seen Pit Bulls heeling nicely beside couples in their matching Mountain Equipment Co-op Goretex jackets. Why had I forgotten about them? Or rather, why had I discounted the well-heeled Pitties and instead given more negative weight to the untrained, spike collared dogs?

I was lazy, that's why. I let other people's hysteria tell me how I should think. Instead of trusting my own experiences and coming to my own conclusions, I was swayed by someone else' fear and hate.

Defending the lives of innocent Pit Bulls is not an excuse for dangerous dogs. I would no more want dangerous dogs in my neighbourhood than I would want dangerous people roaming those streets. Actually, no, that's not true. I'd much rather face down a crazy aggressive Pit Bull than a crazy aggressive human and I've seen more than enough of the latter and almost none of the former.

You're probably a million times more likely (maybe I should fact check this number) to be squashed by a car driven by a lawyer who used to be a close advisor to the premier than to be involved in a dangerous Pit Bull encounter and yet we don't ban car drivers or lawyers or politicians. We wouldn't even dare suggest it.

We encounter death, injury and suffering from any number of sources but it's always the marginalized groups, especially those who do not have a voice, who cannot defend themselves, who are stereotyped the worst, assigned vastly disproportionate blame and receive the most undeserved punishment.

Because of that stereotyping, too many Ontarians applauded when politicians enacted their morally corrupt anti-Pit Bull laws as a mindless distraction to the many more real and pressing problems facing our province. Those laws have lead to the killing of hundreds, if not thousands of innocent dogs in this province by municipal animal control agencies based on appearances alone. And hundreds more, many taken away from their loving families, have been exiled to other more humane provinces because staying here would have been a death sentence.

In my book, there is something terribly wrong with a person who would try to gain political advantage by stereotyping, scapegoating and punishing the innocent. Isn't that what scumbag dictators do?

The provincial elections are coming up in Ontario. I'm not going to say you should decide who to vote for based just on this single canine welfare issue - of course our government is about much more than this - but please at least consider the unfairness of the anti-Pit Bull law, and those who created it and still support it, when deciding who you will support.

I'm not suggesting who to vote for but if you live in, say, Parkdale-High Park and this issue sways you to vote for, say, Cheri Dinovo (who is trying to get rid of the anti-Pit Bull law) instead of the other candidates (whoever they are) then good.

The following is a repost from October 2008.

B had a bad record. Her owner let her off leash at a park and B started a dog fight. The owner was warned by city officials to keep B on leash and muzzled when in public.

Maybe the owner misunderstood the instructions because he brought B to another park and let her off leash where she got into another dog fight. This time B was taken away from the owner. The owner wanted B back but before that could happen, he had to once again promise to keep the dog on leash and muzzled. Once he agreed to this and because there were also extenuating circumstances leading to leniency on compassionate grounds (for the owner, not the dog), B was returned to him.

He then took B to a park and released her off leash. B got into another dog fight. B was once again taken away from the owner and placed in confinement at Toronto Animal Services South where she was due to be euthanized. Generally, unless there are other more egregious considerations, dogs who get into dog fights, especially ones who get into fights because of irresponsible owners, aren't automatically given a death sentence but because B was considered a Pit Bull type dog, a death sentence was what she got. B was the first dog to be "tried" in court under the anti-Pit Bull section of the Dog Owner's Liability Act (DOLA) and someone wanted to prove a point.

But again the owner wanted B back and decided to appeal the decision.

An appeal can be very drawn out and since it didn't cost the owner anything, he delayed the process as long as he could by not returning phone calls, not showing up for court appearances.

So, B was kept at TAS for over three years. Her owner never visited her. She had no visitors at all and, due to her legal situation, she was never allowed outside. She spent almost all her time locked in a 1 meter by 2 meter concrete kennel. Occasionally, one of the sympathetic staffers or volunteers would take her into one of the empty rooms in the facility and play with her for a few minutes but other than that, B was kept in isolation.

I didn't know any of this the first time I accidentally stumbled upon her. I walked into the wrong room trying to find a vet tech and instead I saw what looked to me like a big Staff Terrier wagging its tail and quietly looking up at me as I walked up to her kennel. She looked like a mass of muscle stuck on four spindly legs with a football for a head. When she saw I wasn't going to leave right away, she wagged her tail harder and her hind end wiggled like a puppy's. I extended my hand and she tried to nudge it with her nose through the mesh of her door. I patted her nose a bit and then turned away to leave. Usually, when a person walks away from a kenneled dog, the dog will bark hoping for more attention but she just looked at me and kept wagging her tail.

Later, I asked about the Staff Terrier and got B's history as stated in the above. I wanted to take some photos of her so I asked if I could be there when she was taken out of her kennel for her next exercise period.

She turned out to be a playful dog, very happy to have someone keeping her company. B proudly carried around her only toy, a squeaky ball, and dropped it at my feet and waited for me to kick it so she could fetch it again. She was full of pent up energy and the only time she stayed in one spot was when I scratched her back and then she happily wiggled her hind quarters. When her time was up, she obediently followed the staff member back into her cage and only gave a single cry of disappointment when her cage door was shut.

I had a hard time reconciling the behaviour of this dog with its living situation. If I were left in solitary confinement for months on end with nothing to do except stare at the walls and floor, I'd go crazy. I'm not sure, but I think that holds true for most warm blooded animals. The grace with which B handled her isolation truly amazed me. Not only did she not go cage crazy, she remained calm and friendly and her constantly happy wagging tail was a sure sign of her resilient personality.

The case dragged on until, finally, it was discovered that the owner had left town with no forwarding address and had basically abandoned B to the city. The staff at TAS tried to get the kill order reversed, saying that B was not a threat to people and would be sent to a Pit Bull rescue facility where she would be properly supervised and kept away from other dogs. For a while, there was hope. But in the end, with political pressure to adhere to the breed ban, the request was turned down.

On a cold afternoon in February, after spending the last three years of her life in solitary confinement, B was killed.

11 Comments to “Profile: B”

  1. Mel B says:

    "You're probably a million times more likely (maybe I should fact check this number) to be squashed by a car driven by a lawyer who used to be a close advisor to the premier than to be involved in a dangerous Pit Bull encounter"


    B's story never gets old.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I'm crying! What a sad & devastating story! Something should be done to avoid this in the future! That poor dog kept in confinement for 3 yrs only to be sentenced to die. This dog is just like many other pets. Maybe he did not get along with other dogs but so what if there was no anti pitbull law then he could have went to someone who would ahve really loved him & kept the dog away from other dogs. And why did the court reject the offer of him going to a pitbull rescue facility. Shame shame.The owner should have been charged with animal cruelty for first not being responsible and second for taking off and leaving the poor dog behind. Who wrote this is an animal angel. For a brief time the dog knew what love is. Its also nice how the staff was on the dog's side and tried to get her to go to the rescue facility. This is a sad story. Thanks for telling it. All pet owners should hear it. B lives on in everyone's dog.

  3. rika says:

    Thanks for sharing this.

  4. selkiem says:

    That is DISGUSTING - first I have heard of this - it is AS bad Tim Trow keeping poor Bandit upstairs - at least Bandit had access to fresh air on the roof. I cannot believe that ANY organization that purports to care about animals wouldn't at least bring the dog out - muzzled = that's ALL that had to happen - for a walk a couple of times a day. I am absoultely disappointed in TAS in this respect - they really let the ball fall on this one. That poor poor dog. BSL is an ABOMINATION. But there ARE ways around it if people are determined enough- unfortunatley this poor dog had NOT one person on her side. It woudl have been kinder to put her asleep form the beginning - pit bulls are incredibly people oriented, they CRAVE human attention .. I'm sick to my stomach.

  5. Fred says:

    selkie, B was not just a DOLA banned dog. She was a dog which the courts had specifically deemed to be dangerous and as such was not permitted to go outside under any conditions, muzzled or not, and anyone who disregarded those orders would have been immediately fired and/or charged. Even the amount of time certain people might have spent with her in her kennel or in other areas of the building, of which I know nothing about, was probably outside of her court allowed conditions.

    This was also a time when a pipeline for transferring Pit Bulls out of province via outside rescues had not yet been established at TAS South and the significant legal hurdles had yet been worked out. If B were in the facility today, I think (I hope) her outcome would be quite different.

    This is not an excuse (B's living conditions were probably much worse than Bandit's) and certainly not meant to minimize the danger Pit Bull type dogs still face in Ontario. Pit Bulls have to be deemed pretty near perfect in behaviour and temperament to even stand a chance at being accepted into over extended rescues and even then that would only happen if the animal control agency involved is enlightened and compassionate and makes the effort to contact a rescue. I would guess that most animal control agencies in Ontario do not fall into that category.

  6. Thanks so much for this sad story, Fred. B was only one of THOUSANDS of dogs killed by the Lie-berals' unfounded, unjust, vague, shoddy, proven ineffective and proven fiscally irresponsible "breed" specific legislation.

    You've got to hate a government that makes points on the backs of dead dogs and the rights of law-abiding dog owners.

    I'm with Mel B on the story that never gets old. I'll certainly never forget.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I read this yesterday and didn't comment but I keep coming back to look at "B"s pictures...I know, I must be a masochist. The last pic, especially, gets to me, knowing she's not here any could anyone look at this beautiful dog with her huge, wide, goofy smile and think she was in any way dangerous? I've never owned a pit bull but every time I see a picture of one, they always seem to have the biggest smiles of any breed.
    What I would like to do to her 'owner' is not printable. I'm sure he must have been one of those 'machismo-seeking dirtbags' as you so aptly put it. I'm sure she must have been trained or at least 'encouraged' to fight other dogs, knowing it would please him. That's all she was trying to do. He must have been getting off on the fights or else why would he keep letting her off-leash, despite several warnings? He always knew, bottom line, that he could just skate and the dog would be the one to have to pay the price...and that's exactly what happened. Being human (?), he gets to just leave, and "B", well she's just a dog, so she has to pay with her life. I am getting so sick of hearing variations of this story. "Dirtbag" is too generous a term.
    As for the government...don't get me started. I don't know who I'll vote for (or if I'll vote at all) but I can assure you it won't be for the current gov't.

  8. Fred says:

    Anon, when I first took that photo, I used to look at it a couple of times a week, hoping she would get sent to a rescue. After she was put down, I would look at the photo and get depressed and then pissed off.

    That was a long time ago but when I see the photo now, I still feel the same way so I don't look at it too often.

    I don't know for sure but I don't think B was trained to fight. Lots of dogs just don't like other dogs and from what I understand B didn't necessarily go after other dogs to start fights but she didn't tolerate them getting too close. I had a dog that didn't like other dogs so I just didn't bring him to the dog park. Pretty simple solution.

  9. siouxee says:

    B was just not socialized. Her death is the owner's fault. This hurts, and angers me. She's gone now. B is gone.

  10. Gabrielle Des Roches says:

    I agree with everything that Anonymous said. It is the people who make their dogs mean. If they are treated with love, kindness and respect, all dogs are angels here on earth. They do so much for humanity and should never be abused or neglected or end up in that horrible situation of spending 3 lonely years in confinement, only to be euthanized in the end. That is unforgivable. Apparently 2/3 of the dogs in shelters end up being euthanized, through no fault of their own. Something has to be done to change this. All dogs deserve better. B deserved to spend the rest of her life in a loving, caring home, but she was never given that chance. Vote only for those politicians who feel the same way and will fight to help these innocent creatures.

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.