It was an ugly incident that’s hard to watch.
Video posted on YouTube shows a woman who appears to hit — and at one point even bite — a tiny dog while forcibly yanking its leash as the terrified canine tries to move away from her on the TTC subway.
Shocking and disturbing, the video garnered international media attention.
But equally as shocking is the abused dog is still in the custody of this woman, who appears to be struggling though her own personal, perhaps even medical, issues.
Called by an emergency alarm at St. George station, Toronto Police spoke with the woman and released her with the dog.
“Officers from 53 Division spoke to the woman and some witnesses and found no signs physical harm to the dog,” said Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook, adding there was no basis in law to remove the dog from its owner.
But things changed an hour later when the video appeared and it went viral on social media.
“Immediately the officers contacted the OSPCA (Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals),” said Cook, who said she herself was “very concerned” about the welfare of the dog.
OSPCA spokesman Alison Cross told me “the dog was returned to the owner by the police as the police had no grounds to remove the dog from the owner under the law. If the dog is not in immediate distress, ... they wouldn’t have grounds to keep it.”
In a country where we reward somebody who killed an allied soldier in Afghanistan with eight figures and an apology, I get that there is leniency when it comes to justice for a helpless dog.
But Charter rights aside, I feel for the animal. I wish for once the rules would work for the innocent.
Letting the woman keep this dog was in my view a mistake and I articulated this to the OSPCA and police spokesmen who are not directly involved but merely handling the media calls.
I could tell they were both as shaken up about the treatment of this dog — as are many of you.
“We do have an open investigation into the matter,” said Cross. “It was brought to our attention (Saturday). It’s too early in our investigation to share details at this time. We will be updating the public when we have more information to share.”
The authorities took her information, but for the public, the whereabouts of the woman and the dog is unknown. Many are wondering where they ended up?
The bad news is we don’t know how the whereabouts of the dog. The good news is the authorities are on this.
“As for our role, we have the same jurisdiction as the police when it comes to animal welfare legislation. We can lay charges both under the Ontario SPCA Act and the Criminal Code,” said Cross.
The only thing I want to hear is that this dog is OK. If someone has information, let us know.
No matter how this all turns out, there’s nothing acceptable about cruelty toward a vulnerable dog that looks like it may be a Chinese crested — a breed known for being happy go lucky and gentle.