Don Cherry wants to save 21 pit bulls

The idea of killing 21 pit bulls not only has Don Cherry biting mad but barking loudly to try to save these dogs.

“It brings tears to my eyes that dogs, who did nothing wrong, are now in cages facing execution,” said the legendary hockey coach, TV star and dog lover.

Grapes was referring to a story in the Toronto Sun Monday about the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ court application to “destroy 21 dogs that were seized in an alleged dogfighting ring” near Chatham.

Before the next court date on March 10, Cherry hopes there’s an eleventh-hour intervention to stop the cull.

“So they rescue the dogs and now they are actually paying a lawyer money to go to court to murder them?” an irate Cherry said of the OSPCA. “What am I missing here?”

Cherry, who runs Don Cherry’s Pet Rescue Foundation which is funded through the sale of his Simply Pets treats, said he not only wants the OSPCA to cease and desist but also allow time for people to find homes for the dogs.

“I will help find good homes for them across the country and put the OSPCA in touch with people who will do that too,” Cherry said.

So far, Cherry said people in the dog rescue and dog advocacy business have been rejected.

“I have been told the dogs must stay in Ontario to die when we could find them a place in B.C. or Nova Scotia that would allow them to live,” he said. “It’s absurd.”

Of the 31 pit bulls that were rescued, the OSPCA hopes to rehabilitate seven and three have already been put down.

And the noose is literally around the neck of the other 21.

“Ultimately this is the most humane course and is in the interest of public safety,” OSPCA investigator Brad Dewar told The Canadian Press.

Cherry said that assessment is insulting.

“I am disgusted,” he said. “It’s appalling to see a law enforcement agency tasked with protecting animals going to court to actually attempt to execute them.”

In “99%” of the cases, Cherry said, the dogs aren’t dangerous.

“I can tell you that these dogs rescued from these kinds of horrible fighting rings are the most gentle and loving dogs anywhere,” Cherry said. “I know this first-hand because I had one. I had a Staffordshire bull terrier, which I also called Blue. This dog was a beauty and not at all dangerous but very gentle.”

He also points out nearly all of the dogs in NFL star Michael Vick’s dog-fighting circuit were saved.

“I can tell you 49 of his 50 dogs were saved by rescue organizations and went on to be wonderful pets for people,” Cherry said. “They were not put down. It goes to show you it can work if the dogs are given a chance.”

OSPCA senior inspector Jennifer Bluhm says the society has been “working with and caring for these dogs for many months and relying on the best experts to assess if they are a safety risk to other pets or people.”

“There has been a very careful assessment.”

She said at this point the decision is the 21 dogs in question don’t qualify to be sent to homes.

The goal, she said, is to find out-of-province homes for seven dogs.

With his Coach’s Corner duties, Cherry said he won’t be able to attend a protest Saturday outside the OSPCA office in Newmarket. But he’ll be there in spirit.

The OSPCA has yet to return a call for comment about Cherry’s offer to help rescue the pit bulls.

It’s difficult to understand why death is the only option when there are people like Cherry and Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, who are prepared to help save the dogs.

There are several options available to the OSPCA rather than going to court to have a death warrant signed.

“I get very upset when I think of how these poor vulnerable dogs who thought they were being rescued must feel,” Cherry said. “There is no need to kill them. These dogs are innocent victims.” 


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