Oshawa MPP Jennifer French called on the Liberal government to work with animal organizations to help save 21 dogs rescued from a dogfighting ring instead of letting them be put to death:
Ms. Jennifer K. French: My question is to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Speaker, as we know, in October, 31 dogs were rescued from a horrible dogfighting ring in Tilbury, where they had been subjected to years of cruel and barbaric treatment. Since their rescue, the OSPCA has filed a court application to have 21 of these dogs euthanized, even though organizations have been lining up with offers to rehabilitate them, in or outside the province.
These dogs have suffered at the hands of humans, yet this government feels the only humane decision is to put them to death. You can stop this. All dogs deserve to be protected.
Will the government grant s special designation and commit to protecting these dogs, instead of condemning them to die?
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, I will remind the member again, as I did yesterday, that she’s asking about a court process which is underway right now involving the OSPCA. We do understand that this is a challenging issue, and many individuals and organizations are concerned across the province.
But as the member knows, there is currently an application to the court by the OSPCA for permission to euthanize 21 of the 31 pit bull dogs seized from an alleged dogfighting operation, citing risks to public safety. However, the remaining dogs are being rehabilitated for relocation outside the process.
OSPCA, Speaker, as you are well aware and the members are aware, is the organization that is responsible for animal welfare. They have significant expertise in matters relating to animals and their welfare and rehabilitation. They’re pursuing a court process. We should respect that process.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: These dogs can be rehabilitated. There are experienced and caring organizations lining up for the opportunity and loving homes to adopt them. Your instinct is that killing these dogs is a better option. At no point, should killing these dogs even be an option.
We’ve had this conversation before. This is the same government that nearly allowed 99 animals to be put down after a ringworm outbreak. Minister, this is the wrong decision again. As long as this government continues to support breed-specific legislation, these dogs will always be at risk. Will the government do the right thing: work with organizations that actually want to rescue these animals? Or is putting them to death your final answer?
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Our government takes the care and protection of animals in Ontario very, very seriously. We are proud to have some of the highest standards for animal welfare in Canada. The OSPCA is independent charitable organization that provides a number of services, such as animal shelters, veterinary and spay/neuter clinics and public education about animal welfare. Additionally, the OSPCA Act, which is a legislation of this House, authorizes SPCA inspectors and agents to enforce any law pertaining to the welfare of animals. Police may also enforce those laws.
Contrary to the public reports—I want to repeat this again—the government of Ontario does not currently have legislative authority or regulatory authority to direct the OSPCA to take or not to take any particular action. This matter is before the courts. A judge will make a determination. OSPCA is seeking that approval. We should let the court proceed based on the law.