Is a dog property?

I saw the most disturbing thing on my way home tonight.

I was deciding whether to wait for the street car or walk further north to take the more direct streetcar. On the way, I saw a guy asleep in a bush shelter with a couple sleeping bags and a couple backpacks, and and adorable puppy. I’d say the dog was about 7-8 months old. I think it was part pitt bull. It was golden brown and had the sweetest face I’d ever seen.

I started to walk north and then heard the streetcar coming. I rushed back to the stop and as I was getting on the streetcar, I noticed the same sweet face in front of me. It all happened so quickly. I kind of said to myself out loud “Wait, did they just take that guy’s dog?”

Now I’m not going to lie; I’d had some gin. It was a really good friend of mine’s birthday and we were dancing and drinking, and my responses were not immediate.

So I got on the streetcar, and I saw some girl giving that same dog a bone. I looked her straight in the eye and said “Did you just take that guy’s DOG?!” She said, very matter-of-factly that yes, she had. She “saved” the dog.

I got into quite the argument with her. My point was that you can’t just steal something from someone because you think you can take better care of that thing/person/animal/ANYTHING.  That dog obviously belonged to that guy and I said “Great, way to go, that dog was probably the one thing that kept that guy going.” AND SHE SAID “Good, he’ll probably drink himself to death anyway.”  And I just couldn’t stop saying that just because this guy was homeless, doesn’t mean that she has the right to make decisions from him and STEAL from him!!! 

!!!   ???  !!!

I CANNOT BELIEVE SHE JUST THOUGHT SHE COULD TAKE SOMEONE’S DOG!  That dog doesn’t belong to her, and the dog was in no pain.  AND!!!! And, and AND!!! She told ME to mind my own business!!!! 

I am appalled by the fact that someone would think to steal a dog to ‘save it from the cold, and from the homeless guy’ but would just then just leave the guy on the street.  More compassion for dogs than fellow humans?  I just don’t get it.

I felt outnumbered and anxious on the streetcar.  There were people who seemed to think along the same lines as me, but who told me to just ‘let it go’ but there were more people who agreed with this dog theif.    I eventually just got off the car because my heart was racing and I was on the verge of tears.

I am still so upset by this I just don’t even know what to think.

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5 comments
  1. Emily said:

    Hey dude. Though I do not feel someone who cannot adequately provide for an animal should be allowed to provide for something like a dog, I do not agree with just taking the animal. There are organizations that have their foundation in legislation within our province/country and they are the ones to call regarding these issues.

    For homeless people dogs are their forms of security. Not all homeless people will drink or drug themselves into oblivion. However I ask the one question… if you were living on the streets of Toronto in the winter time, wouldn’t you be drinking heavily?
    Again, I don’t agree that someone who cannot put a roof over their head should be responsible for any animal that depends on people to survive (domesticated dogs). However I do not feel this guy should have been treated this way.

    Many times walking around the city during the day or at night I get a bit of a pain in my chest when I see an animal obviously hungry looking sitting on the street with a homeless person. However my response is to always go buy a bag of dog food… not take something from someone.

    Its a tough call. I don’t doubt that this dog will be taken care of. However, I feel this holier than thou woman stepped over the line of disturbing a situation she didnt give herself enough time to figure out.

  2. Lori said:

    Yikes. I can see that this was emotional. That girl had no right to make this type of assumption – whether she was right or wrong. She is a thief. She took something that was not hers. If it was a child, would she take that too? Funny how we would probably walk or turn away on that one…..maybe we would call Children’s Aid….doubt she would take the child. Why would she take the dog? Because it’s easy. Because it’s easy to take advantage of the homeless?

    I have befriended a homeless man outside of my work and he is a wonderful man. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. And he recently quit smoking. He also will not take anything from me – because he doesn’t know what people will put into the food given to the homeless – especially food – he doesn’t trust us. These are human beings who deserve respect.

    I’m assuming he didn’t do anything to her to provoke her to take the dog – was he abusing the dog? No.

    I understand how this upset you. Did you report this person for her actions?

  3. casey said:

    There are some situations where taking that man’s dog might have been somewhat acceptable; if the dog was clearly starving, on deaths door, looked battered and beaten – although even in those situations, there are authorities who deal with those situations, it was not up to just anyone to decide what is right or wrong.

    that girl was wrong to do that. dogs are animals, and can deal with the cold just like humans can. If it was loved and fed, which it probably was since it was still with this homeless man, than there was no need for the dog to be taken away.
    Her actions were just selfish and heartless and absolutely wrong.

    I sometimes think it’s wrong when people who live on the streets have animals – because it’s cruel in a way. but then, who I am to judge, and who knows the full story? There are a million reasons people end up on the streets, and it’s easy to assume that it is their fault, drugs or alcohol are to blame, but that often isn’t the case and it is not up to just any citizen to ‘make things right’ and go around ‘saving’ animals – we are in no place to be making these kinds of decisions for other people.

    You should call the police. I am sure they won’t care, and I know you won’t have enough information to really report anything, but then you can know that you’ve done your part, and when the homeless man tries to tell the police, they might believe him if another report has been made. and that respect and belief in that homeless man is a large part of what we’re talking about here.

    I hope that that girl realizes that the puppy is sad, and she took it away from an owner who loved it, and that she was wrong to do that. If she left her dog tied up in the backyard and I thought it deserved better and I took it, would I be saving it?

  4. Cathy said:

    Oh wow, Lee. That is absolutely astounding. I can only imagine how emotional that would have been to experience. I’m glad you expressed your thoughts to the woman. I completely echo Emily’s thoughts above. And Aunt Lori – good points raised. Reporting her would be a good idea – but at the same time, what would the authorities really do about it? I have a sneaking suspicion they’d be just as bad.

    I remember meeting a young guy on a Queen West streetcar once – he was maybe 14 or so, and lived on the streets. He had just bought this adorable little puppy – I think it was also part pit-bull. We were chatting about this little dog and he was so excited to have it. He said he felt safer with it.

  5. Aubs said:

    I was so upset about this story and I also believe it deserves a wider debate. Let me consider the opinion of the thief first… perhaps she was at the end of watching a series of abused animals and their unworthy owners that week and this particular pooch reminded her of her long lost puppy that ran away when she was 8 years old and was later “sent to a farm”? Perhaps she had a momentary lapse of reason or perhaps she had a few gins as well that night? I am really hard pressed to find a side to her story that I can relate to.

    Upon hearing the tale my first reaction was anger and how unjust people can be and how many terrible acts get there via “Good Intentions Rd”. It is quite clear to me that the woman is making lifestyle assumptions about that drunk, street-sleeping man. I mean – who HASN’T slept in a park at least once in their lifetime? The fact that the dog had a new bone to enjoy showed me that it was at least cared for – likely loved. Perhaps she hadn’t watched the 80’s great “Down & Out in Beverly Hills” which teaches us the importance of canine companionship for homeless people. I hope Richard Dreyfus is there for this man when he wakes up alone.

    I have a friend who is a breeder who told me that the typical expense for a dog when you factor in vet bills and food can get up to $20k per year over the lifetime of the dog. That’s a tough expense for a no-income owner.

    I don’t advocate for homeless people to own dogs because of the non-apparent health expenses when they get to 5yrs or older, but I absolutely do not support this woman’s rash action and judgmental defense of it. I don’t really see a problem with a stray supporting a stray, I am certain they had a mutually beneficial situation. I will not presume to understand their lifestyle together.

    Final Thought: Stealing from the homeless is an unforgivable crime. Thank you Lee Anne for reminding her of that – even if she didn’t hear you at first.

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