Service dog taken from Bruce County, Ont. family
Two families are fighting for the permanent return of their dogs - one of them a service animal - seized by the municipality because they resemble pit bulls.
Lulu is home, for now, after being taken by Arran-Elderslie’s Animal Control officer in early August. The Quarry family's other dog, Blue, a PTSD service dog for Ralph Quarry is also back home, but they are not sure for how long.
“Blue has never, ever, ever hurt anybody. He’s never bit or gone after anybody. He went after a cat. That’s what this all stems from, a cat. All dogs go after cats,” says Ralph.
Deanna Irvin-Wheeler lost her dogs, Dexter and Nova, to the same animal control officer in March, after they got loose from her property in nearby West Grey.
Their resemblance to a pit bull, although they are both American Bullies, is the reason they were taken.
“I was never charged, and they shipped them to Quebec,” she says.
Dexter and Nova, two American Bullies, are seen in this undated photo. (Source: Deanna Irvin-Wheeler)
The Quarry and Wheeler families are pushing to try and repeal parts of Ontario’s Dog Owners and Liability Act, also know as Ontario’s pit bull ban law, put in place in 2005.
Specifically, the parts that focus on breeds deemed similar in looks to pit bulls, like Lulu, an American Bully.
“Innocent sweet, lovable, well-adjusted family pets with responsible, loving owners, are getting caught under this, and not actual criminals,” says Robyn Minifie, a local animal advocate.
For their part, the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie provided this statement from Arran-Elderslie CAO Sylvia Kirkwood about the Quarrys' dogs being taken.
“The Quarry matter is still in litigation. We cannot provide any commentary on this matter as it still remains before the courts. Bylaw Enforcement and Animal Control Services continue to be provided in Arran-Elderslie in accordance with our Bylaws on a complaint basis.”
Ralph has been charged with owning a dangerous dog.
“He’s my rock when I need a rock. When my wife’s not home, he’s there to comfort me, to love me,” he says.
Irvin-Wheeler is working her way through the courts to try and get her dogs returned as well.
Until then, the focus is on trying to change the legislation that allows dogs like these, even service animals, to be taken from their homes.
“In other townships and municipalities, they’re heroes, these service dogs. But here, for some reason, under one animal control officer, they’re villains,” says Minifie.
An earlier version of this story stated that Ralph's PTSD service dog was still in custody.
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