It’s been over a week since Jennifer Santana has seen her dog, Odie. He’s not missing, he’s being held by the Sault Ste. Marie Humane Society, who is refusing to release the dog back to his family because of an Ontario law.
The ordeal started just over a week ago when Odie scared a bear off his Goualis Ave property. When Odie didn’t come home, the family tried to search for him. Meanwhile, a motorist picked up Odie and took him to the Humane Society that same day .
Santana was relieved when she learned her dog was safe and promptly went to claim her dog at the Humane Society on Second Line. That’s when the problem really started.
The Humane Society has no choice but to hold the dog.
The Humane Society believes Odie to be a pit bull, and that breed is banned in Ontario. They asked Santana to prove ownership and what type of dog Odie is.
“I had provided to them as requested, they said they believed it to be a forged document. What I had done was get a Deacon who knows the dog personally to swear an affidavit and presented it the following morning but they refused it claiming it was not a credible,” Santana told ONNtv/SaultOnline.com
According to Santana, Odie is a boxer mix, but she claims the Humane Society is purposely being difficult because she took her concerns to social media creating a major backlash against the Humane Society.
“It was the community that had done that, I hadn’t said or posted anything that was against the Humane Society. I have a dog from there, I support them” Santana said.
Cindy Ross, the manager of the Sault Ste. Marie Humane Society, was not available for comment but did issue a statement to ONNtv/SaultOnline. It states :
As the contracted Animal Care & Control Service provider for the City of Sault Ste Marie, we enforce the Animal Care & Control by-law and the Dog Owner’s Liability Act which includes regulations for pit bull type dogs. As a result of this service contract we are designated as a Pound in the province of Ontario and must follow legislated requirements and are subject to inspection.
When releasing animals that come into our care we are required to determine the rightful owner and in keeping with provincial pit bull regulations, the breed. We cannot comment on matters that are or may come before the courts.
And that’s exactly where this case is headed. Santana has been subpoenaed to appear before a judge on July 10th in provincial court. There, a judge will determine the breed and the fate of Odie. Since 2005, legislation bans pit bulls in Ontario, places restrictions on existing pit bulls, and toughens the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public.
The OSPCA does not support the law but must uphold the legislation. That’s the only reason Odie is being held. Various people on Facebook commenting on a page created called “Free Odie” comment that Odie is not a vicious dog or a trouble dog.
Some people have commented and also contacted SaultOnline.com claiming that Odie is constantly on the loose, isn’t fixed nor has had any veterinary care. Santana says that simply isn’t true.
“He’s my baby, he’s part of our family” Santana said. Santana said she is willing to do what it takes to please the Humane Society many requests but has been met with resistance.
Recently, Santana’s family doctor has claimed Odie is a therapy dog for Jennifer as she suffers from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“He is the most amazing dog, it has really affected our family – our house is centered around him.”
Santana and her supporters say holding Odie is inhumane and should be returned to his family as soon as possible.
“At this point I am worried about the physiological affect this is having on my dog. He is locked in a cage, I have not be allowed access to him, I can’t get updates on him and I am thinking in his little brain is he thinking , does my family not love me anymore? Why are they leaving me here, have I done something wrong?”
For now, the fate of Odie remains in the hands of a provincial court judge and that decision could be made in the next week. If Odie is deemed a pit bull the Humane Society says Odie would be transferred to a no kill centre in Sault Michigan and adopted out to a new family in Michigan where there is no pit bull ban.