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There is a dog in the back of Toronto Animal Services South named Hades. He is a big brindled dog, maybe some Cane Corso, maybe some Mastiff, maybe something else. I've only met him once and only in passing when I was on my way to see another dog in the same room. As I walked by his kennel, Hades looked at me through his door. His body posture was stiff, head direct but low, and he stared at me with unblinking, hard eyes. I thought I heard a low rumble coming from his throat. I looked away. What's the point of provoking an outburst from a dog in a cage?

Hades is at TAS-S because he got loose in an apartment building in Parkdale and bit a man's arm while the man was waiting for an elevator - although from what I hear "bit" might be an understatement. Later, after Hades was impounded and the matter brought before the courts, the bite victim was kind enough to say he didn't want Hades put down.

That was about a year ago. Since then, under court orders, Hades has been living in a cage with minimal human contact, no exercise, not much of anything except food, water and treats (he's gotten a bit chunky actually). Hades is considered a potentially dangerous dog as well as a piece of evidence in an ongoing case and, by law, these are the only comforts he is allowed. As well, the city lawyer has not been able to locate Hades' owner after the initial proceedings and that has no doubt prolonged the legal proceedings.

Hades is in limbo.

I remember the last time I met a dog in limbo at TAS South, abandoned by its owner and treated by the courts like a dusty folder in a forgotten filing cabinet. But Hades is not that dog. That dog wagged its butt as it waited for me to throw its squeaky ball. That dog smiled and panted when I scratched its back. That dog kept me up nights thinking about it living in isolation in a concrete cage - who could call that living? - and then, near the end, there was the hope it could be saved, sent to a rescue perhaps and, finally, how it wrecked me for days and drove staffers to drink when the courts ordered it to be put down in accordance with the anti-Pit Bull laws of Ontario.

But Hades is not that dog. Hades is not a dog I'd want to play ball with.

I'm not going to pretend I know him well or know what motivates him or what kinds of anxieties and stresses he's experiencing at the shelter which are affecting his behaviour but I do know he has trust issues with people and he has proven he is capable of harming those he doesn't trust.

Recently, Justice Lynette Stethern has said, "This dog is broken. It is in a cage with no human contact and we can't take this lightly. The court is troubled," and she has ordered a behavioural assessment of the dog to help determine its future. In this, Justice Stethern shows great compassion and I hope her decision leads to a quick resolution.

There are three outcomes for Hades. The miracle outcome is that he is released and a home is found for him where he can be kept safe and healthy and the public can be kept safe from his behaviour. The second outcome is that he will fail his assessments and he will be euthanized. The worst outcome is that the case will drag on indefinitely in court and Hades will be left to lie alone in his cage for months if not years, grinding between anger and stress, an impenetrable waiting, not living, being punished for something he is incapable of understanding.

The Toronto Sun article is here.

20 Comments to “This is not a love song”

  1. selkiem says:

    Confining a dog to a dog run and cage is absolutly unconscionable and abusive in my opinion. I'm shocked and very very disappointed with TAS. Simply becuase he wasn't all cuddly and wiggly at the cage door, incidentally, does not mean he is necessarily past being rehabilitated. Many dogs when confined to a small space become territorially aggressive; in many circumstances this can be changed. I don't know whether Hades can be rehabilitated. I DO know that throwing a half-assed temperment test at this juncture will only fail.

  2. NK says:

    Selkie says it all so well. It is a shame we can't have a Best Friends type facility in Ontario (or Canada) that will take 'no hope' dogs and let them live out their lives with some dignity. No doubt 'man' has made this dog the way he is. As we have seen from the Michael Vick's dogs most of these were rehabilitated and adopted out and the ones that weren't live a decent life at Dogtown. A very disturbing article but a necessary one to show us just how far we still have to go.

  3. deva says:

    The conditions the dog is living in are not the fault of TAS - they are a court order. I hope resolution for this dog is reached soon.

  4. mel says:

    Can there not be a 4th option - foster care?

  5. Anonymous says:

    What a horror story. Poor dog. At least the Justice has done something to break the deadlock. I just hope the dog can be sent to a decent rescue.

  6. Alex says:

    This is a classic case of the justice system acting against justice.

    If the dog can be rehabilitated, it should have started a year ago. If the dog can't be rehabilitated, then it should have been put out of it's suffering then. In neither case should it have been locked in cage for a year ore more. It's just torturing a dog which can't understand what is happening to it, or why.

  7. Why has this taken a year??? Who's been sitting on their hands?

    If the dog wasn't broken at the start, it will be by this treatment which is inhumane and abusive. There are enough freakin' legal staffers at City Hall, why has this living being's case been allowed to collect dust?

    Drown the lawyers in gravy, I say.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Selkie pls dont make TAS the issue..Its the ontario courts! and the owner for abandoning him....If anyone wants to foster I am sure that probably at least 200 ontario private dog rescues need foster homes!! SOoo many dogs in need and just not enough homes,foster people and adoptees and the list goes on..While the case goes on...Im gonna love him like my own dogs!!

  9. Lynn says:

    Start by changing his name. This story breaks my heart. Unfortunately, I don't think this situation is uncommon in shelters around the country...animals held for long periods of time while court cases are pending. There has to be a better solution.

  10. Joanne says:

    No dog is unfixable...just people who don't know how or won't make the effort to fix him. There are sanctuaries that accept dogs like Hades to live out his life, if that is his last option. There is no need to end this dog's life simply because of ignorance of how to fix his issues. It is time someone starts contacting people to help with him. Every day he spends in isolation (and let's remember dogs are social animals) is another day that will have to be reversed. Someone get off their butt and start doing something. A friggin year...are you kidding me, he could be completely turned around by now if someone just actually had the initiative, incentive and knoweledge to help him.

  11. deva says:

    Sad as this situation is, I do think some people are forgetting the realities of rescue. One of those realities is that hundreds of perfectly nice inoffensive dogs with no behavioural problems are killed every day because rescues have no room for them. The second is that the vast majority of rescues are run in the red by volunteers out of the goodness of their hearts. They scrimp to be able to cover health costs, they don't have the resources to spend on behaviour modification and they certainly can't take on the legal liability of a bite case - and why should they? They would be putting their families and their homes at risk. I personally don't believe that every single dog is "fixable" - whatever that means - but even if they were, rescues are already making some very hard decisions every day.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hey, Joanne, instead of judging eveyone else why don't YOU actually do something? Get off your butt and start a petition, contact you MPP to help change laws. Stop waiting for everyone else to fix the problem.

  13. Joanne says:

    To the last posting as Anonymous.....rather than attacking me, why don't you so something to help Hades or start a "petition". Sounds to me like you are waiting for everyone else to fix the problem. I learned about Hades situation yesterday. So far I have written a letter to Justice Stethern letting her know that if it is possible, within the parameters of the law, there are life-long sanctuaries willing to take "unadoptable" dogs so that she might consider that option in her decision. I have contacted several of those sanctuaries asking about their intake process and costs should Hades be given the opportunity to live out his life there and advising that I will be responsible for his monthly costs for the rest of his life. I am also trying to find a dog modification behaviourist who would be willing to work with Hades if and when the public is allowed to have interaction with him. I am not a believer in the power of petitions as you seem to be. That is simply, as my sister so wisely names and point activism. It relieves you of actually having to do "something" constructive. I also have enough courage to post under my own true name so that people who hide behind the moniker of Anonymous are free to attack me. So, I would ask you Anonymous, what have you done to help Hades?

  14. Fred says:

    Ok, I'm going to step in and stop the comments here between Joanne and Anonymous. I know both of you only want to do right by the dogs at TAS so let's just leave it at that.

  15. I KNOW THE OWNER. he did not abandon Hades , TAS INFACT TOLD MARK OWEN THE OWENER, THAT HADES HAD BEEN DESTROYED MULTIPLE TIMES WHEN MARK HAD GONE IN... AND CALLED... THEY TOLD HIM HADES HAD BEEN DESTROYED AND THAT HE WAS NO LONGER WITH TAS... MARK HAD NO IDEA HADES WAS ALIVE UNTIL AFTER THE ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN THE SUN! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT THEY LIED TO HIM HE PICKS UP A NEWS PAPER A COMPLETE YEAR LATER AND SEES THAT HIS BELOVED DOG WHO HE WAS MOURNING FOR A YEAR... IS ALIVE.. ITS RIDICULOUS. and most of you sit here and judge mark? Mark did everything he could for Hades, he loved and cared for Hades, took him to the park regularly.. that dog was not a harm to anyone. The MAN didnt want Hades put down because he was a crackhead... because we all lived in the Tyndall buildings in Parkdale and thats crack alley. and the crackhead was tryying to pet Hades and hades was scared and was backing away and snarling and the man continued to come closer and closer and then he bit the guy... I have known Hades since he was 3 or 4 weeks old.. The only reason he is aggressive like that now, is because the system made him that way... He was that cute floppy puppy with the big ears that fell over all the time.. he ran around the house playing with my other dog delilah and loved to jump up on you and give kisses.. he will always be that dog.. that bite was an isolated incident caused by a person not sensing dog behaviour and wouldnt back down... Hades will be rehabilitated, and if any of you knew that dog like I do.. then you all would be able to recognize that aswell. thankyou.

  16. Brittany Marie says:

    I am the original owner of Hades, I have shared my story with a few people, Selkie being one of them. I had found Hades on a kijiji ad in Toronto, and the conditions he was being kept in at the breeder's house was terrible. Him, and the two other pups and the parents were kept locked up in an outside kennel, one that had no shelter from the rain, was filthy covered in feces, they had no water, no food.. I was happy to know that I could save him from that and give him another chance. Hades was only 7 weeks old at the time. I was living with some friends at the time, and then we had moved in to our own apartment. It was shortly after moving that I was supposed to leave for Newfoundland and couldn't take Hades on the flight as the airline company had stated that all animals had to have complete sets of vaccines, and with Hades only having his first set, I had to find him a new home. My friend Synth had said that her friend Mark was looking for a dog, and Mark is a wonderful person, around dogs all the time. He had agreed to take Hades and as much as it broke my heart to let him go, I had to do what was right. I saw Mark around town with Hades and always went up to say hi and pet him, always greeted by a happy dog, well trained, well taken care of. Later on down the road, I heard that Hades had bitten someone and was seized from Mark. I had tried keeping up with everything and the last I had heard before the new year was that Hades was put down. Then, I read the article in the Toronto Sun and was ecstatic that he was still alive, but then very quickly upset again as I read about the conditions he was living in. Being locked in a cage for a year, only having toys, food and water, but no exercise? What kind of life was this? I know for a fact that the life Hades has lived for the past year is what changed him, as he was a wonderful dog, and a wonderful companion to Mark.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I call bs on the last two comments. What would animal services have to gain from telling the owner that his dog was eutanized? Everything's on public record. It's in the courts. No point in lying. No point especially since TAS had been trying to get a hold of the owner for a year without success to get him to take some responsibility for his dog. NOt even his own lawyer could find him. Regestered letters all unanswered. Where is this Mark guy now? There's a couple of peopel talking for him but where is he?

    The story about not being able to take the dog on the plane because of no shots. BS. Check Air Canada. Check West Jet. Nothing in there policies say anythign about needing vax papers. Going to NFLD isn't an international flight. NO borders were crossed. No papers needed. Even if the origianl owner was flying with some airline that requires papers, why not take a different airline or send for the dog later? Don't blame the airline. The owner didn't want to take the dog. end of story.

    What's with the insult against the bit victim? So what if he was a addict? He gets his arm torn to shreds and doesn't want the dog put down makes him a decent person regardless of his addiction. Give the guya break. After Hades, he's the one who got it the worst.

    The whole reason Hades spent a year locked up was because his owner couldn't and didnt want to be found probably because he was and still is afraid of being sued and facing his legal responisbility. What else should TAS have done? Tell the judge, no ,we're not going to listen to you. We're just going to adopt the dog out even though your telling us we can't.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I have been attacked by a small agressive dog while waiting for an elevator. I did not want the dog put down or in a cage but I thought that the owners would have been more considerate. What a predicament.

  19. Unknown says:

    Wow! How sad for Hades. He is being failed by everyone involved.

  20. Brittany Marie says:

    Just seeing the anonymous post about calling BS, from what I understand, Mark was put out of a home because of this, which is the reason no one could contact him. Also, as for the airline, I was told over the phone and in person with vet record in hand that he was NOT allowed on the plane. I had an airline approved crate, I had everything I supposedly needed but yet was still denied to take him. You can't speak unless you know the story like we do. We were directly involved with Hades, you weren't. I have been trying to find updates on the whereabouts of Hades, but the last I understood he was being taken into a mastiff rescue. To clear up the breed of Hades, he is a Sao Miguel Fila (portugese cattle dog). I am going to try and find out some more info on his whereabouts, or what has happened in the past year in regards to his well being. I will update here if I do find anything.

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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.