Dog Fight Headed to Court
Facebook users have organized a peaceful protest at the City of Brampton’s Animal Shelter this Saturday morning in support of two dogs seized from their homes last month.
The protest will start at 9 a.m. and run until 11 a.m. at 475 Chrysler Dr.
“This is considered to be a peaceful protest to show the City of Brampton and Animal Control Services that the pet owners of Brampton and Ontario will not stand idly by while our civil rights are abused and our pets put in harms way by the system established to protect them,” organizers have said on a post to the site calling for the dogs, Rambo and Brittany, to be freed.
“May the protest be out of love for the dogs and support of the families involved, not out of anger for the system,” the organizers state.
Meanwhile, Rambo and Brittany, the two dogs seized from separate Brampton homes Jan. 13, are still being held by the City of Brampton, although the Feb. 5 deadline has been extended.
Rui Branco, whose family owns Rambo, said his lawyer will file court papers this week in his efforts to get the dogs back.
“I’m not a guy who wants his 15 minutes of fame,” Branco said Wednesday. “I just want my dog back.”
Branco maintains the dogs’ father is half boxer, half American bulldog, their mother is a purebred boxer, which makes Brittany and Rambo 75 per cent boxer and 25 per cent American bulldog.
City spokesperson Mariam Mesbah said the dogs, according to “documentary and veterinary evidence”, are illegal pitbulls.
“The City of Brampton is bound by provincial legislation to identify and take action where the health and safety of the community may be impacted by dogs deemed dangerous under the provincial law,” she said.
Rambo and Brittany are not accused of displaying any aggressive behaviour, have not bitten anyone, or ever run loose, both the city and the owners agree. There were no complaints about the dogs or their behaviour.
But a mistake by the city in 2008 that classified their father, Tyson, as a pitbull, is the documentary evidence the city is using as proof that they are pitbulls, according to Branco.
The family has documentation disputing that, but, others who have had their dogs seized by the city under the same law say no matter what kind of documentation is produced, no matter how many veterinarians say a dog isn’t a pitbull, it will not be accepted by the city.
“I’ve gone to bat a few times (for dog owners),” said local vet Dr. Tim Zaharchuk. “They send a form around with the owner, asking you to attest to the fact the dog isn’t a pitbull, but then when you do, they say they don’t believe you.”
He said it wastes time and gives the owners false hope, when, in the end, the city does not accept any professional opinion presented by the dog owners.
For what it’s worth, Zaharchuk said he has seen a picture of Brittany, and his professional opinion is she is a boxer mix.
A veterinarian for 29 years, Zaharchuk was president of the Ontario Veterinarians’ Medical Association when the province banned “pitbulls”, and the group fought it “tooth and nail”.
He is very critical of the law, but aside from his general feelings about it, Zaharchuk said it’s “very upsetting” the way the City of Brampton enforces it.
He said the city appears to be on a “witch hunt”, seeking out any dogs that even look like pitbulls.
He said he has warned some of his clients, whose boxers or bulldogs have “characteristics” resembling a pitbull, to muzzle their dogs when they are out walking to avoid being stopped and questioned by Brampton Animal Control officers.
Mesbah said it is the animal control officers’ job to ensure dog owners are complying with the law, but disputed the characterization that city officials are on a witch hunt.
“It’s not that they are out there on the hunt for these dogs, certainly not,” Mesbah said, stressing the city workers love animals and they don’t want to see animals hurt.
“We certainly do feel for the families,” Mesbah said, adding the city will work with dog owners to find a home for their seized dogs outside of the province.
Close to 5,000 signatures are on a petition calling for the release of Rambo and Brittany at www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/735981954