New court date coming in fight over pit bull's fate
Published Wednesday, June 17, 2009 8:29PM EDT
A pit bull mix named Ginger will be the subject of yet-another court battle after the city and province won permission to appeal a ruling that blocked a destruction order.
That next date will come sometime in the late fall or early winter.
"So I tried to convince the judge this was was not of sufficient importance to justify the Court of Appeal seeing it. The judge said, 'I get it, but I still think it's important enough to go'," Clayton Ruby, one of the country's most prominent lawyers, told reporters in his Toronto office on Wednesday after the hearing.
The case dates back to Nov. 29, 2005. Another dog approached Ginger, bit her and ripped off her muzzle. Ginger then bit the dog and its owner.
The city had Ginger taken away from Philip Huggins, her owner and sought a destruction order. One was granted in 2007, but Huggins fought back in the courts.
Ontario Court Justice Mary Hogan ruled in favour of Ginger, saying she was concerned that "such a dog would be ordered destroyed in circumstances where the dog had no culpability whatsoever."
She found the justice of the peace who issued the original destruction order made errors of fact, such as finding Ginger was not leashed.
The city and province are taking a hard line. Lawyers for those sides argued that Ginger is a threat to the public.
Pitbulls are a banned breed in Ontario under a law passed in 2005, and under that law's provisions, Ginger should be destroyed, they said.
Ruby has been fighting the pit bull ban in court and wanted to take it to the Surpreme Court of Canada. But the country's highest court declined to hear the appeal.
In a decision last fall, the Ontario Court of Appeal said the law doesn't violate any constitutional rights.
"You look at that law, and you say, 'This is overkill'," said Ruby, who is working on Ginger's case for free.
Huggins said he was shocked when Ruby contacted him.
"He's been working this case for two weeks and boom -- he got the dog out already," he said -- after more than three years in custody.
"It's like she never left," Huggins said of Ginger, who is seven years old. "She smelled around, jumped up on the bed and relaxed."
With a report from CTV Toronto's Reshmi Nair
Ginger the pit bull terrier. (file)