Montreal Staffie on death row

A Montreal dog is facing the harshest punishment possible for allegedly biting a woman and paramedic in an incident last month.

Opponents of the ruling claim Wicca’s case recalls that of Belfast American Bulldog-Labrador Retriever mix Lennox.

According to The Gazette, Christos Papakostas and his dog Wicca were walking in the Villeray borough of Montreal June 7 when Wicca jumped up on a woman who passed them. The incident left the woman with a scrape on her abdomen. City dog wardens say that the scrape was a result of a dog bite. A paramedic who was called to the scene to treat the woman was reportedly bit as well.

Papakostas told CBC News Montreal that Wicca only jumped up on the woman and the paramedic because she was startled.

“She got spooked. Yes. She bit? We don’t know,” Papakostas said. “The lady never went to the hospital. She never got stitches. She only got Polysporin on her,” he emphasized. And the paramedic came away with no known injuries.

Attorney Elaine Rosenberg, who represented Wicca and Papakostas, told CBC News Montreal that she does not believe that Wicca bit anyone. “All I saw was a photo of the victim, the first victim, but to say that she was bitten was a stretch,” Rosenberg said. “There was no written testimony from her surrounding any facts of the case.”

Typically, incidents like this one in which no serious injury was inflicted result in a 90-day muzzle order, a fine, and a temperament evaluation by a professional animal behaviorist.

But Wicca, a 5-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, has been sentenced to death by Montreal city dog wardens.

Requests that Wicca be evaluated by a behaviorist have, as of Wednesday morning, been denied. She was taken from Papakostas’s home Monday. Owner and dog shared a tearful goodbye as Wicca was placed into holding.

Opponents of the ruling are speaking out around the globe today, saying that Wicca’s case recalls that of Belfast American BulldogLabrador Retriever mix Lennox, who was euthanized recently because of his breed.

“Right now it’s up to the city (or borough) official to say if the dog should be put down or not,” said SPCA of Montreal Assistant Director of Animal Advocacy Sophie Gaillard. “Your dog could be defending you from an assailant and end up being ordered to be put down.”

Gaillard told The Gazette that the city of Montreal is mulling over potential updates to animal control policies, and that dogs should not be deemed dangerous because of their breed, but rather evaluated for temperament by an animal behaviorist before euthanasia is even considered. But any changes to current dog laws will not be enough to reverse the euthanasia order — they will only prevent such confusion in future cases.

Rosenberg told The North Country Gazette that since Papakostas’s requests that the kill order be reversed have been denied by the courts, there is little legal recourse that will be able to save Wicca’s life.

Rosenberg will be fighting the three citations her client received in the mail Tuesday: one issued because Wicca was unlicensed and the other two issued for dog bites. She tells The North Country Gazette, however, that even if the tickets are thrown out, what has gone wrong will not be righted.

“If we win,” Rosenberg said, “the dog will have been killed for no reason.”

As of Wednesday morning, Wicca is still alive; reports suggest that the borough of Villeray, is still deciding whether or not to send out the euthanasia request. But Wicca still sits on death row, awaiting her fate.

“All we’re waiting for is a fax with the order to carry out the euthanasia,” a Berger Blanc pound employee told The Gazette Tuesday.

A petition is making the rounds online in hopes that it will send a message to the city of Montreal that Wicca should be spared.

Sources: MontrealGazette.com, NorthCountryGazette.org, CBC News Montreal