I am so stressed. It was bound to happen, of course. But did it have to be a visit from Animal Services checking on a report of pit bulls??? You'll forgive me if I go a little long here. I really need to get this out of my system.
The day started out great. It's a beautiful day here in southern Ontario, and the movers showed up bright and early. Allan directed traffic and checked off the numbers as the guys brought them in. I hung out on the front lawn with the dogs, both on leashes. Please remember that. Ninety-five percent of the time, both dogs were lying in the grass, relaxing, enjoying the show. Occasionally someone would walk down the sidewalk with their dog, also on a leash, on their way to the park at the end of our street. Buster would begin to react, as he does whenever he sees another dog in "his" territory. I would either distract him, or if it was an intense reaction, walk him around the side of the house, out of view. That's all.
The move-in went smoothly and quickly. We were thrilled. (The movers were really nice, too. I have some observations about this, for another post.) After showers and something to eat, we headed off to the bank to open our chequeing account. By this time we had decided to put off applying for our SINs until Tuesday. If there was any time leftover after the bank, we would buy a grill and some outdoor chairs. Too much business and not enough enjoyment is bad for the soul.
We opened our chequeing account without a hitch, but we also learned that our money is less accessible to us than we had imagined. Withdrawing some cash from an ATM (ABM?) is no problem. But we're trying to transfer a big wad of cash, with which to buy a car, from New York City to Mississauga. I thought that the Canadian bank could take care of that, but apparently a transfer has to be initiated by the transferring bank, not the receiving bank.
This would not be a big deal, but that we are anxious to return the rented minivan. We're already keeping it a few days longer than we had planned because of having to paint. It costs more than $100 per day, and since we're buying a car anyway, hanging on to it longer than necessary really becomes a waste of money. It was already well into the afternoon, and I was skeptical that our Stupid New York Bank would be able to get a wire transfer going by close of business today.
A little more shopping (world's cheapest plastic chairs on sale at the Loblaw's!), then back home to make phone calls. While I'm trying to get through to someone, Allan is unwrapping the printer, finding paper in our boxes, hooking up the printer, and trying to get an authorization letter started.
First I couldn't even get through to the right branch. I finally found someone in a different branch who took pity on me and gave me the direct line of an assistant branch manager. But on Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend, Assistant Branch Manager isn't answering his phone. Call back Kind Person At Wrong Branch, who gives me the number of the branch manager. Branch Manager was very nice - but I was too late. The cut-off for a wire transfer is earlier than the close of business, and I missed it while listening to stupid electronic menus.
As it turns out, that didn't matter, because our New York bank requires an original signature. We thought we could fax an authorization letter, but we had to overnight it. That took a bit of the pressure off, since we now had a few more hours. However, this hadn't fully sunk in yet, and I was still stressing. You may know the feeling. A few minutes later, you might take a deep breath and say, ok, now I have more time. But for the moment, your brain is still in Crisis Mode.
I was on the phone with Helpful Bank Manager, getting all the information, when we heard knocking on our front door. Allan ran downstairs, and came back sounding as bad as I've ever heard him sound. "You have to come downstairs now. Animal Services is at the door. Someone reported there are two pit bulls at this house."
Allan had already explained that one of our dogs is afraid of strangers. They said that was fine, they could take a look at him through the screen door. When we came downstairs with B on his leash, the Animal Services People (ASP) were already petting and making friends with Cody. Buster barked furiously, but soon settled down. That's what he does. I went outside, Buster and Allan stayed inside the screen door, and I began to explain that Buster was a rescue, he had been abused, and it takes him a long time to trust people, he is aggressive when he's afraid, on and on.
ASP said they understood completely, that was not a problem at all. As we talked, Buster relaxed, as he always does once he sees he's not in danger. He laid down with a relaxed, goofy expression on his face.
ASP could not have been nicer or more understanding. Here's what they said.
- Someone reported that there were two pit bulls acting aggressively in front of this house. Reporting Asshole noted that the dogs were on leashes, but said the owner was having a hard time controlling the dogs. (Not true, although I can see how it might appear that way.)
- When ASP told RA that if the dog was really a pit bull it would be taken away and euthanized, RA felt horrible and wished they hadn't called. Nothing like learning the potential consequences of your actions before you act. RA was totally ignorant of the law, but felt free to pick up a phone and rat out this terrible menace in their midst. Fucking asshole.
- ASP hate the new Ontario anti-pit bull law. It is vague, illogical, and wide open for abuse. The public has not been educated about it. Animal Services were given no extra money for more staff or for public education. The law was put into effect with no preparation.
- Under the new law, unless an owner can prove that the dog is not a pit bull, if the dog in any way resembles a pit bull or a pit bull cross, it can be removed and destroyed. Buster is an unregistered mutt. We can't prove a thing.
- Under the law, an exception is made if the owner can prove that she or he lived in Ontario with the dog before August 29. Our landing papers are dated August 30.
- Under the law, any dog that is aggressive can be taken away and destroyed. Any dog that appears to be threatening or menacing - an extremely vague term, and wildly subjective, given that many people unfamiliar with dogs misinterpret a dog's signals - can be confiscated. And unless the owner can prove it is not a pit bull, it can be destroyed.
- ASP were hugely relieved to see that Buster was not a pit bull. They dreaded having to call on anyone, especially newly arrived immigrants, to confiscate their pet. I could see the genuine relief on their faces.
- They could see how someone might see a little pit bull in Buster's face. They are certainly correct in that. We see it, too.
- They tried to be reassuring. They were very apologetic at having to welcome us to Canada in this way. They gave us information about Ontario animal laws, including licensing information. Since Buster is both neutered and microchipped, we would only have to license him once. (That's an incentive for owners to do the right thing for their animals.) Cody is neutered but not chipped, so her license would have to be renewed annually. We've never licensed our dogs before - no one enforces that in New York City - but we'll certainly do it now.
- They made it clear that they were reporting that there was no pit bull at our home.
- However, as reassuring as they were, the law is not in our favor. Buster does react aggressively towards other dogs. He will never, ever get to any of those dogs, he will always be on a leash and under our control, but that doesn't matter. Anyone can report him, and the reports will all be noted, and they can be used as evidence against him.
So they were great, and very apologetic, and very, very opposed to this crazy law. I managed to hold it together while we spoke with them, but the second we closed the front door, I broke down.
I have to walk Buster where there are other dogs. He will see other dogs, and he will react. That's a given. There's no way around it. What will happen the next time some asshole decides to be a good citizen?
* * * *
After I finished crying, we completed our wire transfer authorization, collected our documents, found the nearest Fedex/UPS branch online, and went off to take care of the banking. I ate ice cream and chips, and we stopped at the liquor store for good measure. I'm a firm believer in all forms of stress relief. In moderation, of course.
So there it is. I feel like shit. Thanks for listening.
I know some of you agree with the breed-specific legislation, and I respectfully ask you not to engage in debate about that here. I'm too upset, I feel too strongly about it, and, well, it's just not the time.
* * * *
Right now we're sitting on our new Loblaw's plastic chairs, in our green backyard, enjoying the lovely Ontario breeze. The dogs are on their run - a giant metal corkscrew with long tethers - also enjoying.