Two dogs from alleged Tilbury dog fighting ring thriving in new homes
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2019 11:35AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 16, 2019 8:59PM EDT
At least two dogs connected to an alleged dog fighting ring in Tilbury are thriving in new environments.
One of the pit bull like dogs was among the 31 seized from a rural property near Tilbury in October 2015. Another is the puppy of one of the seized animals.
CTV Windsor has learned one of the older dogs is helping a retired firefighter and war veteran in New York recover from a stroke. His name is “Cuddles.”
The other – who was born after the seizure -- is a police dog in Honaker Police Department in Virginia. His name is “Dallas.”
"I'm proud to say that of a small department of six officers, he has now become the seventh," says police chief Brandon Cassell.
“Dallas” is Honaker's first K9 officer since 1987.
“Dallas” was born into captivity, as his mother stayed in confinement while her fate went through the courts.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSCPA) had recommended 21 of the dogs be euthanized. During the court battle, another ten dogs were born, including “Dallas.”
The court case attracted the attention of celebrities Don Cherry, Paris Hilton, Enrique Iglasias and Richard Branson. Eighteen of the dogs were saved and sent to a rehabilitation facility in Florida.
“Dallas” spent time with several rescue operations before making his way to the Throw Away Dog Project, an organization in Pennsylvania. The goal of the group is to “repurpose, train and relocate unique dogs to positively impact our communities.
The organization matched officer Cody Rowe with his new partner last summer.
“It was amazing,” admits Rowe. “I can't even describe what it was like to get back to doing what I love to do.”
“It was not our intention to ever have a pit bull as a K9,” adds chief Cassell. “That was not our first pick, but Dallas is the kind of dog that kind of grows on you."
Six people were arrested in 2015 in connection with the alleged dog fighting ring, including John Robert and Michel Gagnon.
But their charges were stayed in February 2018 after their lawyer Ken Marley successfully argued the legal proceeding was taking too long and that violated the rights of the accused.
Charges were also withdrawn against Robert’s wife and son. Another man, Robert Tomlin, pleaded guilty in August 2018 and was sentenced to four months on house arrest, followed by two years’ probation.
Marley had also argued against the OSPCA, advocating that the dogs and their puppies be given a second chance. Marley tells CTV News he is thrilled to hear about “Dallas” and “Cuddles.”
“One of the most rewarding things I've been able to do as a defence lawyer in all the years I've been practicing,” admits Marley. “It's great to see how it all turned out."
Marley hopes this case will set a precedent to protect the animals should something similar happen again.
Four of the dogs from the alleged dog fighting had to be put down.
Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary in King City, Ontario joined Marley in the fight to keep the dogs alive. According to the organization, 29 of the animals and their puppies have been made eligible for retraining and eventual placement.