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June 15th, 2007, 09:03 PM
Please send this far and wide.

On June 6, 2007 animal control officers in Sarnia, Ontario seized a mother dog and her three 7-week old puppies from the home of Brian Edwards Jr. and Cassie Bates.

The dogs’ offence? Solely that an animal control officer identified them as "pit bulls" under the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act (“DOLA”). This breed identification has subsequently and conveniently been changed by the authorities; the puppies and mother are now claimed to be Staffordshire bull terriers or have the appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar.

According to the owners, the dogs in question are neither.

On March 23, 2007 Madam Justice Thea Herman, a judge of the Ontario Superior Court, issued a decision that we understand renders the DOLA classifications "pit bull" and "pit bull terrier" unconstitutionally vague. If our understanding is correct, the seizure of the mother and her pups on the basis that they are “pit bulls” would have been unconstitutional.

As for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier identification, there is no proof of that breed identification. It is merely the word of an animal control officer, not a breed expert. The mother dog is not a registered Staffordshire Bull Terrier; she does not have registration papers, a microchip or an identifying tattoo.

At the time of the dogs’ removal from their home, the owners stated they were given two options: hand the mom and her puppies over, or be charged because the dogs were not licensed and the female is not spayed.

This is a scare tactic frequently used by animal control officers to intimidate those who do not know the law into giving up their property – their dogs - without the municipality having to deal with the inconvenience and expense of a court case. This scare tactic unfortunately often works. Of course, threats of pepper spray and arrest work just as well. That's what happened when Brian approached the animal control van to calm the mother dog.

On June 13th, the media reported that these dogs were given a stay of execution.

On that same day, however, the City of Sarnia issued a letter stating that "the pound operator will exercise certain options set out in Section 20(7.4) of the Animals for Research Act,R.S.O. 1990 ( the “ARA")." Four options were cited. Only one allows the dogs to live.

The ARA specifically states that the puppies and their mom can be safely transferred to a person who is resident outside Ontario.

Knowing of this option, Advocates for the Underdog, a well known and respected rescue, has offered at their own cost to take this task upon themselves.

The Advocates offer was declined by Sarnia pound officials.

The City Solicitor for Sarnia has filed documents claiming that the seven-week old puppies and their mother pose “a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals”.

Therefore, under the provisions cited, the City of Sarnia has decided that the mother dog and her puppies will be killed.

Not only does Sarnia animal control apparently not understand the law that they are supposed to be enforcing, but the Sarnia legal department also apparently does not have a clear understanding of the law.

Or perhaps they understand it too well. Could it be that the Ontario Attorney General’s office is once again wielding the same bloody pen used to write Ontario’s breed-specific legislation? One has to wonder why the Ontario government’s highly paid constitutional lawyers, who presented during the recent Superior Court case, sat in on less well-known municipal cases pertaining to "pit bulls". One also has to wonder why the City of Sarnia has recently announced that it will be performing door-to-door checks on all homes for the presence of dogs.

The constitutional challenge to DOLA is back in court for the remedy hearing at the end of this month. Until that time, it is our understanding that this law is in limbo and subject to misinterpretation and mistakes.

Without judicial clarification, it is hard to see how the City of Sarnia can justify the killing of innocent puppies. One would think that prudence would cause the City to put a moratorium on further actions until the courts clarify whether the law is enforceable.

One would also believe that any municipality or agent of the municipality that destroys the property of a citizen under DOLA before the final ruling is made, may well find themselves legally liable for those actions.

The back-door legal tactic used by the City of Sarnia to kill unoffending puppies and their mother should be seen by all dog owners as a purely vindictive measure. The classification of "substantially similar physical characteristics" could easily be applied to tens of thousands of Ontario dogs.

The City of Sarnia, of which animal control is an agency, is not (as claimed by one city councillor) just "acting on provincial law". The City of Sarnia, of which animal control is an agency, has made its own decision to kill these dogs.

There is a huge gray area of options, some of which are within DOLA and others that do not require the use of that particular law. Killing these dogs is not required or mandated.

The DLCC asks that you take five minutes from your day and write, call or fax the members of Sarnia City Council. You don’t have to live in Sarnia, or even in Canada, to write the mayor and councillors.

Ask that they allow these dogs to live and be placed in the competent, caring hands of the Advocates for the Underdog. If you wish to see the correspondence from the City of Sarnia to the lawyers for Brian Edwards Jr., please visit the DLCC website:

The next meeting of Sarnia City Council is scheduled for Monday, June 25th, 2007

Mayor: MIKE BRADLEYCity Hall
255 N. Christina Street
Sarnia, ON N7T 7N2
Phone: 519 332-0330 ext.312

TTY#: 519 332-2664
Fax: 519 332-3995 (fax)
155 N. Front Street, Apt. #705
Sarnia ON N7V 7V5
519 336-8092

City and County Councillor: DAVE BOUSHYHome:
1413 Lakeshore Road
Sarnia, ON N7S 2M3
Home: 519 542-3109
Fax: 519 542-0868

City and County Councillor: JIM FOUBISTERHome:
1937 Buena Ventura
Brights Grove, ON N0N 1C0
Home: 519 869-4701
Fax: 519 869-8625

City and County Councillor: BEV MACDOUGALLHome:
228 Maria Street
Sarnia, ON N7T 4T1
Home: 519 344-0768
Business: 519 344-5543
Fax: 519 332-0916


City and County Councillor: ANNE MARIE GILLISHome:
65 Ashby Crescent
Sarnia, ON N7S 4L5
Home: 519 542-9728
Business: 519 542-0554
Fax: 519 542-0554


City Councillor: ANDY BRUZIEWICZHome:
665 Stonecrest Avenue
Sarnia, ON N7V 2K3
P.O. Box 2373
Sarnia, ON N7T 7S6
Business: 519 332-2639
Fax: 519 337-7855

City Councillor: JON MCEACHRANHome:
978 London Road
Sarnia, ON N7S 1N7
Home: 519 337-7200
Business: 519 383-7200
Fax: 519 383-7800

City Councillor: MIKE KELCHHome:
324 Tawny Road
Sarnia, ON N7S 5J6
Home: 519 542-5682
Business: 519 339-4003
Fax: 519 542-8827

City Councillor: TERRY BURRELLHome:
954 Champlain Road
Brights Grove, ON N7V 2G2
Home: 519 542-8826
Business: 519 336-5545
Fax: 519 336-2130

Please copy your correspondence to the Sarnia City Solicitor:

City Solicitor/Clerk - Brian W. Knott

City Hall
255 N. Christina Street
Sarnia, ON N7T 7N2
Phone: 519-332-0330, ext. 262

General Inquiries
Phone: 519-332-0330, ext. 263

Fax: 519-332-3995

TTY#: 519 332-2664

June 16th, 2007, 06:13 AM
I wrote to the mayor and each councillor, but there is no email for the solicitor that you said to send a copy to? did I just miss it? I saved a copy just in case there is an email.. hope this works, good luck to the mom and pups

June 16th, 2007, 06:34 AM
We have communicated with Sarnia town ,the local SPCA and the Father of the pups owner.
Does anyone know how the protest went yesterday?

June 16th, 2007, 10:03 AM
I wrote to the mayor and each councillor, but there is no email for the solicitor that you said to send a copy to?

Here is the e-mail for the city solicitor/clerk, take out the spaces before sending. The spaces are to fool programs that scour the 'net for e-mail addresses.

bknott @

July 18th, 2007, 06:58 PM
This is the outcome of these unfortunate souls who are being removed from their loving home. My only question is this - Why was the mother dog not licensed in the first place. Had she been she may have been better protected by already having a breed defined on the registery office.

This was an article in the same newspaper as original ran the story. For those who are following this story.

Seized dogs spared euthanasia; Instead, purported pit bulls will be moved to Quebec, says lawyer for owners

Poirier, Jack / The Observer
Local News - Wednesday, June 20, 2007 @ 16:00

A family of dogs have been spared from death row.

A Bay Street lawyer says he has convinced Sarnia city staff to move the dogs, suspected of being pit bulls, to new owners living in Quebec.

Chris Avery said he felt compelled to come to the dogs' defence after seeing a news report detailing how the city's animal control officers seized the animals. The story first appeared in The Observer.

Avery said the city was trying to backdoor its way into euthanizing the dogs.

He tracked down the family and offered his services.

"As a dog lover I was horrified by it," said Avery.

The dogs, belonging to Brian Edwards and his girlfriend, Cassie Bates, were seized June 6. The mother, Rowen, and her two-month-old pups had been scheduled to be euthanized today.

The city has since agreed to another extension to allow for the dogs to be moved to Quebec.

"The city took the back door on this" by not charging the owners, said Avery.

Had they been charged, Sarnia would have to prove the dogs are pit bulls, he said. But by seizing the dogs the burden of proof falls to the owners.

"This way there is no trial, there's no hearing, there's no evidence. That's what's got me banging my head against the wall."

Ontario's Dog Liabilities Act states that any seized dog believed to be an unregistered pit bull can be destroyed or moved out of province. Avery said he's found willing owners in Quebec.

The lawyer also warned that other dog owners could face the same problem as the Edwards family.

"A poorly bred lab can pass as a pit bull," he said. "The law is too vague."

The legislation has been challenged by the Dog Legislation Council of Canada. A superior court judge deemed portions of the law unconstitutional in late March and said the definition of a pit bull is too vague.

Locally, the Edwards family has collected 1,000 signatures on a petition following a pair of weekend rallies held outside city hall and the humane society.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said the issue isn't one that should be directed to council.

"It's a bad law," he said, but added the city is only trying to comply with the province's legislation.

He said lobby efforts should focus at the provincial level.

"They're barking up the wrong tree by aiming their lobby at the city."

July 18th, 2007, 07:30 PM
I'm sorry but those statements by Mike Bradley are ridiculous and cowardly. City of Sarnia staff made a decision to act in this instance and the City of Sarnia backed them up, no one held a gun to any one's head.

Shame !

July 19th, 2007, 07:23 AM
First, let me say I don't endourse this whole pit bull ban/law the whole breed specific ban issue is insane in my opinion.
I'd like to know how animal control heard about these dogs. While the fate of these dogs because of the law and the way they were seized because of this law is indeed horrible, the law is what it is for now, and fight it yes, but there are 2 sides to every story and I'd like to know what circumstances led to animal control going to this house. Was there a complaint from a neighbour. Are these people back yard breeders? While they are now saying that these are not pit bulls, have they been telling people they want to sell the puppies too that they are?
Why wasn't the dog licensed?
Are these dogs well looked after?
While this law is in place, owners who are not responsible pet owners are going to end up in these situations. And before I get flamed about this, a responsible pet owner has their dog spayed and licensed.


July 22nd, 2007, 12:14 PM
No flame from me, Cindy, and no argument. Unless you have a purebred AND you're conformation showing AND the dog has good temperament, or there is a medical condition preventing it, all pets (dogs, cats, rabbits, etc) should be s/n'd.

I don't know why or how the dogs came to the attention of Sarnia A/C, I am just angry that weeks-old puppies are labelled "dangerous" solely because of their shape.

What utter BS.

Fortunately, Advocates for the Underdog wrested the pups out of Sarnia's hands and I believe they are now in Quebec.

July 22nd, 2007, 03:24 PM
Good news that they're safe and sound.


August 17th, 2007, 01:49 PM
im so glad the animals are okay and now in a good home...
that is shameful how anyone can just think they can ban a specific breed.
one of the worst qualities of humans is to type-cast a specific kind of anything & group them all together in assumption.
pit bulls are some of the greatest animals on the planet & they are so misunderstood, mis-treated & mis-represented by ignorant people who have no common sense.
thank God these 4 dogs were saved.
and hopefully someday this nonsense that is known as bsl will go away entirely because it is just flat out wrong to punish the breed and not the deed.
RIP to all the poor pitties that have fallen victim to this human bull