Pitbull's path to death criticized by Montreal SPCA

Wicca, a pitbull accused of biting two people last month, was put down on Thursday despite her owner's appeals to the City of Montreal to keep her alive. The Montreal SPCA is now speaking out about the case.
Owner Christos Papakosta says goodbye to Wicca before they part ways. (CBC)

Wicca, a pitbull accused of biting two people last month, was put down on Thursday despite her owner's appeals to the City of Montreal to keep her alive.

The Montreal SPCA is now speaking out about the case and criticizing the way Wicca's case was handled. It says the animal-control bylaw does not force officials to investigate such incidents deeply enough, and does not consider alternatives to putting down animals.

The statement also expresses the SPCA's concern about a new bylaw that would be even tougher in cases where animal bites cause injury.

SPCA director of animal welfare Alanna Devine said owners should be really concerned about the new bylaw.

"In the context of a dog park, a dog may bite another dog's cheek while playing rough, that could result in the euthanasia of that dog. If a dog is protecting their owner or protecting a person and a bite happens, the city will be required — if it is reported — that the dog be sentenced to death."

The animal rescue group says the current bylaw can see a dog put down at the city or borough's discretion, if the dog is seen as a danger to public safety or if the dog has bitten and caused wounds requiring stitches. No behaviour assessments are required for such a decision.

The new bylaw proposed by the city would see automatic and mandatory destruction of the animal, no matter the context or severity of the injury. Owners will have 24 hours to appeal the case and have the dog take part in a behaviour analysis.

The SPCA wants citizens to send letters to the mayor's office to express their concerns.

Owner says Wicca never bit anyone

In June, the city said Wicca bit a woman and then bit an ambulance technician who arrived on the scene to treat her.

After a series of legal battles, including a rejection of an appeal from Quebec's top court, the dog was taken to Montreal's Berger Blanc, to be held there until she was killed.

The dog's owner, Christos Papakosta, received a ticket for the two incidents Wednesday, and his lawyer asked the judge for a 10-day reprieve to argue the fines. But the judge declined, stating his hands were tied by previous rulings.

Several dozen supporters held a demonstration opposing the decision Wednesday night.

Demonstrators asked for Wicca's life to be spared. (CBC)

Papakosta said his dog only grazed the first person, and the second has admitted he was not hurt during the incident.

He also said that the Quebec Superior Court judge refused to look at his version of the facts.

"No judge wanted to look at a police report that just says that my dog lunged at the paramedic and that I, the owner, pulled my dog back. The dog never bit. The dog never nipped him, like he says," said Papakosta.

His lawyer, Elaine Rosenberg, said sentencing animals without proof is too easy, which should concern all dog owners.

She worried Wicca would be put down before the court had a chance to throw out the tickets and find the dog had never bitten anyone.

Papakosta said he went so far as to have Wicca evaluated by Sophie's Dog Adoption, an animal rescue group. The group said Wicca remained calm throughout the tests.

Papakosta said city bylaws are unfair when it comes to sentencing dogs to death, and he hopes voters will keep Wicca in mind when casting ballots in November's municipal election.