Animal rights protesters outside the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Chatham on March 18, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

OSPCA Defends Care Of Seized Dogs

The Ontario SPCA is rejecting a claim the group is treating dogs seized in Tilbury cruelly.

“That statement is unfair,” says Jennifer Bluhm, spokesperson for the OSPCA.

She says the 21 dogs seized last October because of alleged dog fighting are safe and well looked after.

“We provide them with shelter indoors, not chained up with heavy chains,” says Bluhm. “They are provided with medical attention, the opportunity to move and exercise.”

A Toronto lawyer representing the rescue shelter Dog Tales unsuccessfully pushed for a Chatham judge to approve the transfer of the dogs from the care of the OSPCA to Dog Tales, telling the judge the dogs were being harmed in OSPCA custody.

The OSPCA has been dealing with backlash from protestors after moving forward with an application to euthanize the dogs. Bluhm says an assessment by American experts in rescuing dogs trained to fight found some of the dogs to be the most aggressive they’ve seen.

“I think the [OSPCA] has to be very conscience of that outcome,” says Bluhm. “We have a responsibility to ensure that we’re looking out for the safety of the community, ensuring that people and other pets are safe as well as the dogs themselves.”

Bluhm says the OSPCA’s role in relation to the case was to evaluate each dog and provide those results to the court so the court could decide what was best for the dogs and the larger community. She says the OSPCA will respect the court process and ensuing decision.

Protesters opposing a dog euthanasia application by the OSPCA gather outside the Chatham courthouse March 18, 2016. (Photo by Mike James)

Protesters opposing a dog euthanasia application by the OSPCA gather outside the Chatham courthouse March 18, 2016. (Photo by Mike James)

For the second straight week, protesters gathered outside the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Chatham opposing the euthanasia application.

Joanne Sweers made the drive from Newmarket hoping a secondary group would be given a chance to assess the dogs.

“I don’t think that there has been enough transparency in the steps that have been taken so far to just arbitrarily say these dogs all need to go and be put down,” says Sweers. “I’m not about putting the public at risk, but I really believe that just simply arbitrarily saying all this kind of dog or cat or person is bad, I think that’s the wrong way to look at things.”

Several rescue groups have filed applications asking that they be allowed to assess or care for the animals.

The criminal case regarding the alleged dog fighting ring in Tilbury has been pushed to April 18.

— with files from Mike James