Tidus Returned to Owner After Judge
Rules on dog Owners Liability Act.
TIDUS Sarnia Sun _ Thursday, April 20 _ 2006 news 3
A Sarnia dog has been given a new
Leash on life, but dog owners shouldn’t
take his release as the beginning
of the end of the Dog Owner’s Liability
Tidus, a four-year-old male described
in court as small, short-haired
and muscular, is back with his owner
today after being released following 42
days in custody at the Sarnia Humane
“I’m just thrilled. I’m relieved it’s
over with,” said owner Jody Kirby.
“He’s a good dog, he’s never done anything
Tidus was seized March 9 by an animal
control officer and Kirby was
subsequently charged with four Sarnia
bylaw offences relating to the
pooch not being licensed or on a
The city also ordered the dog destroyed
under the provisions of the
Dog Owner’s Liability Act which was
passed by the province last August.
That legislation stipulates that pit
bull owners must have full control of
their dogs at all times, as well as having
them muzzled, leashed and sterilized
within 60 days of the bill taking
Defence lawyer David Stoesser
called the act “very inadequate.”
While Stoesser indicated the case
is the first of its kind to be heard in
Sarnia, a spokesperson for the Attorney
General’s office did not know if the
case was the first of its kind anywhere
in the province.
“We don’t track those sorts of
things,” said Brendan Crawley.
Crawley was quick to point out the
case should not been seen as a challenge
to the legislation, but an individual
court case under the law.
“If I’m acquitted of theft, that doesn’t
mean I’ve been successful in challenging
the Criminal Code,” explained
“The act is alive and well,” he said.
At the time she was charged, Kirby
told the officers Tidus had infections
that needed to be treated before
he could be neutered, but she did
not have the veterinary paperwork
to back up that claim.
The dog has since been neutered
and is good health, according to Dr.
Sandra Taylor, a local veterinarian
who testified on behalf of the defence
in the Provincial Offences Court in
Sarnia on Wednesday.
Taylor testified she could not identify
the exact breed of the dog, because
the owner did not have information
about the lineage of the animal.
“This legislation is very vague because
it doesn’t give direction,” said
Justice of the Peace Helen Gale in
making her ruling to release the pet
following the two-and-a-half hour trial.
She noted that the Canadian Kennel
Club does not even recognize pit
bulls as being a specific breed.
“There needs to be a clear definition,”
said Gale. “There are some real
problems with the act.”
Gale said the essence of the act was
to restrict the movement of dangerous
and aggressive dogs and no testimony
was offered about Tidus’s personality.
The dog owner, who broke into
tears when the destruction order was
dismissed, said the legislation cannot
be applied in a cookie-cutter fashion.
“I think that’s a big part of what’s
wrong with this legislation,” commented
Kirby outside the court room.
“He’s a good loyal friend to have
around,” she said. “He’s obedient,
never shown any aggressive behaviour
and he’s never tried to bite anyone.
He’s a family pet, not a dangerous
Kirby, who said she needed a court
order in order to make her sole visit to
see Tidus during his incarceration,
said she planned to take her pet for a
long walk after retrieving him from the
“Because he’s on death row he
doesn’t get walked,” she said. “He’s
been in that cage for a month and a
– with files from Gord Bowes
Gord Bowes/Sarnia Sun
Jody Kirby gets a wet welcome from her dog Tidus yesterday after picking him up at the Sarnia Humane Society. Tidus had been incarcerated
there since he was seized March 9 and Kirby was charged with several offences. She was found not guilty yesterday.