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Rocky condemned to death – because of his looks

Rocky: at risk because of the way he looks

ONTARIO DOG owner Tom Price is fighting for his dog's life.

One night early this month the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society visited Price at his home on Lancaster Street, Kitchener, and handed him a death sentence for Rocky, his dog of eight-and-a-half years.

After taking several pictures of Price's dog Rocky during a couple of previous visits the Humane Society concluded the animal was an American Staffordshire terrier, and would have to be destroyed. Such dogs can be banned by the City of Kitchener.

"He's a very friendly dog," Price said. "He's never done anything wrong."


The Humane Society was acting on an anonymous complaint, and Rocky did not bite anyone or their dog, Price said. The notice was hand delivered, and Price will take his case to the city's Dog Designation Appeal Committee for appeal. He is scheduled to appear on March 20.

"It's pretty much a closed case," Price added. "They’ll kill him just for the way he looks."

When the city banned ‘pit bulls’ it ran into a problem immediately – one that has occurred everywhere else that Breed Specific Legislation – BSL – has been enacted. Pit bulls are not a single breed. The name commonly refers to several breeds, including the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier.

All of these dogs have strong, square-shaped bodies, short noses and a shorthaired coats. But not all of them are pit bulls.

Price doesn't think it's fair to lump his dog in with one individual crazed pit bull that lead police on a chase across the city almost a decade ago. That dog was eventually struck by a couple of cars on the Expressway and shot several times by police before it was killed. And that incident lead to the city ban on pit bulls that came into effect in 1997.

"You have to do it on an individual basis, not a breed," Price said.

The Kitchener bylaw, like those enacted across Ontario last year, is far reaching.

Dogs can be designated for destruction if the animals are dangerous, potentially dangerous or prohibited under the bylaw, said Jennifer Sheryer of the city's legal department.

"Dogs that are prohibited in this city include dangerous dogs that have violated a condition placed on them, as well as dogs that fit our definition of pit bull that weren't grandfathered-in when the bylaw was passed," Sheryer said.


Pit bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, pit bulls, Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American Staffordshire terrier are prohibited under the city's bylaw. But the Staffordshire bull terrier and American Staffordshire terriers will be spared if the animals are registered pure breeds, Sheryer said.

That doesn't help Price even though he believes his American Staffordshire terrier is a pure bred. That's because Rocky was castrated, and therefore ineligible for registration.

"If they can show they are part of these registered pure bred dogs there is not the same concern of them being pit bull terriers or American pit bull terriers," Sheryer said.

"But they look so similar as a breed that if they can't prove they are pure bred, then those two breeds fall under the pit bull's definition," Sheryer said.

The Humane Society of the United States disagrees with breed-specific bans. It says dangerous dogs should be banned, not entire breeds.

Councillor Berry Vrbanovic was instrumental in bringing the pit-bull ban to Kitchener, and he quickly points out that Queen's Park has followed this city's lead and introduced a province-wide ban. It is a public-safety issue, added Vrbanovic said.

"It's not something that the city takes lightly," Vrbanovic said.

The city's Dog Designation Appeal Committee has overturned decisions made by the Humane Society in the past, and Price is hoping it will do so again for his case.

"I'm upset. He's been loyal to me for eight-and-a-half years," Price said of his dog. "He’s hurt no-one, now he’s got to die because of the way he looks."

The Dog Legislation Council of Canada (DLCC) has organised an online petition to plead for Rocky to be granted an exemption and his life to be spared.


Diane Singer of the DLCC told OUR DOGS: "Please everyone, the petition at the moment contains over 5,000 signatures which is great, but we'd like thousands more names added to the list, from around the world. So please sign and cross post to as many people (individuals, your mailing lists, relevant discussion lists, Yahoo groups etc. etc.) as you can! We cannot allow Rocky to be killed. He's a harmless sweet old boy and is so trusting. He loves everyone that he meets."

Please sign the petition to save Rocky here:

The petition link, along with Rocky's photo, is also located on Tom Price's website: