Reprieve for Rambo?

The owner of Rambo, a 10-month-old cross-bred pit bull puppy, has been given a bitter choice: sign the dog over to the City of Mississauga to be killed or face a long legal battle she cannot afford.

“Rambo is harmless. He wouldn’t hurt anybody,” said his owner, Gabriela Nowakowska, 20, of Mississauga.


Nowakowska bought the puppy at a flea market last year and wasn’t aware of Ontario’s draconian breed ban on pit bulls or perhaps even that the puppy was a pit bull cross. Under the ill-considered breed ban, enacted in 2005 by the McGuinty government, pit bulls or “substantially similar” dogs are banned in Ontario. Although there is a grandfathering provision for existing dogs, the unfortunately-named Rambo is too young to be legal.

As a flea market purchase from a backyard breeder, Rambo hardly qualifies as a purebred Pit Bull (whatever that means), although he may be “substantially similar” with his square jaw and whip tail. Where does that comparison end…? Even Rambo’s veterinarian, Dr. Cetera, has stated that his lineage is questionable.

Rambo, who is thought to be 10 months old, was caught running free on Christmas Day by animal control officers in the pristine suburb of Mississauga. He had escaped via an open back yard gate from Nowakowksa’s home.

Animal control manager Dulio Rose outlined two choices to Nowakowska: sign Rambo over to the City to be put down or go to court on the unlikely chance that she can convince a judge that Rambo is not subject to legislation passed two years ago by Queen’s Park that essentially made it illegal to own new pit bulls. After all, what choice do municipalities, particularly those that observe The Letter of the Law have, given the provincial legislation? Well, other municipalities have managed to show leniency in cases like this. Surely Mississauga can think out of the box and do the same?

“I really do want to fight it,” Nowakowska said. “I don’t want Rambo to die.” But she’s worried about funding an expensive legal action.


Mississauga politicians are asking City staff to explore options that would allow Rambo, a pit bull cross-breed puppy scheduled for euthanasia, to be shipped out of Ontario to a reputable rescue organization.

In separate interviews yesterday, Ward 9 City councillor Pat Saito and Ward 6 councillor Carolyn Parrish strongly criticized the provincial legislation aimed at eliminating new pit bulls from being owned in Ontario and said they’re working with Animal Control staff to see if there are alternatives to killing the young dog.

“We’re going to see if we can get the dog neutered and approve a 24-hour exemption for him to be shipped out of the province,” Parrish said.

It wouldn’t be the first time a dog has been sprung out of an Ontario Dachau. Bandit, a “substantially similar” pup, was sent to Washington state where he is now a K-9 law dog!

Parrish, who owns a bulldog named Lady Charlotte, says this about Rambo: “I’m told he’s really a sweet dog and everyone at animal control plays with him. He’s just a darling.”

“It is perverse to pass a law that bans animals based on the fact they look like a pit bul”, said Parrish. “There has got to be a humane set of rules put in place when the law is an ass,” she added.

“Mr. (Michael) Bryant (who guided the legislation through Queen’s Park) should have to put on gloves and come out here and use the hypodermic,” to put the dog down, Parrish, a former MP, said. (Michael Bryant failed to identify a pit bull from photos of 24 “substantially similar” dogs, choosing a Presa Canario.)

Saito called the pit bull law, “terrible legislation that is poorly written and poorly worded.”

Bans based on breeds do not work, she said. “It should be based on temperament and the threat of the individual dog.”


Nowakowska said she has almost raised the $500 she needs to meet with Toronto lawyer Anik Morrow to fight to have Rambo returned. The lawyer has indicated that Rambo could be “bailed out” until the trial, although that would seem to fly in the face of the legislation, which requires municipalities to seize and hold prohibited dogs.

Nowakowksa said her preferred option is to have Rambo back as a pet. If the courts rule that he is a pit bull and subject to the legislation, only then would she consider having him given to a rescue operation, she said.

She acknowledged that holding the dog in a cage for several months pending a trial would be hard on him.

City Hall and The News have been flooded with e-mails about the issue since it came to public attention. Several animal welfare groups opposed to the pit bull law see the case as a classic example of the flaws of Bill 132 and are renewing their battle against the legislation.

An out-of-province placement would be a deserved reprieve for Rambo, and Mississauga councillors Pat Saito and Carolyn Parrish have been lobbying for that. Although, ideally, Rambo would be returned to Gabriela who seems to have a very big heart.

Here’s the opportunity:

This case challenges the ill-conceived breed-specific legislation brought in by Michael Bryant and the McGuinty government. It’s time to open that up again and repeal this nasty piece of legislation that doesn’t solve any problems whatsoever, and just creates heartbreaking cases like this one. Kudos to councillors Parrish and Saito for raising hell.

Michael Bryant and those who supported Bill 132 have the blood of over 2,000 dogs on their hands since 2005. How many humans have pit bulls or “substantially similar” dogs killed in Ontario since, oh, the beginning of recorded Canadian history? Perhaps a bill could be passed to protect other sentient beings from those who voted for this draconian bill.

Surely the creative minds on Mississauga City Council can figure out some wording with the Animal Services folks, so that this puppy can just be a puppy in a loving home?

Mississauga News

See the MPPs’ voting record on this bill here.

See what other bloggers have to say about this case:

Random Access (check the blog for further Rambo-lings)


Find the Pit Bull Quiz at Social Mange

Check out Banned Aid, the website for a coalition which is opposing Bill 132.

Contact Mississauga municipal government to help spring Rambo for good. They really ought to be paying attention to Councillors Parrish and Saito. The mayor appears to be looking for some help over at Random Access (all this ruckus is costing money!): Rambo and Ronin

If you e-mail, change the (at) to the @ symbol. The (at) is to fool bots looking for e-mail addresses.

Here are the addresses for the City Councillors and the Mayor of Mississauga:

Her Worship Mayor Hazel McCallion: mayor(at)
Office of the Mayor
City of Mississauga, 300 City Centre Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5B 3C1
Fax: (905) 896-5879

Councillor Carmen Corbasson: carmen.corbasson(at)

Councillor Patricia Mullin: pat.mullin(at)

Councillor Maja Prentice maja.prentice(at)

Councillor Frank Dale: frank.dale(at)

Councillor Eve Adams: eve.adams(at)

Councillor Carolyn Parrish: carolyn.parrish(at)

Councillor Nando Iannicca: nando.iannicca(at)

Councillor Katie Mahoney: katie.mahoney(at)

Councillor Pat Saito: pat.saito(at)

Councillor Sue McFadden: sue.mcfadden(at)

Councillor George Carlson: george.carlson(at)

City of Mississauga, 300 City Centre Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5B 3C1
Fax: 905-615-4081

Janice Baker, City Manager – city.manager(at)
Fax 905-615-3376


6 responses to “Reprieve for Rambo?

  1. The nightmare that was known as Bill 132 because it was WHIPPED vote and put into law by Michael Bryant and Dalton needs to be removed from the Ontario Law books as it is the largest embaressment EVER in this Providence’s history.

    When I read the debates over this cruel and inhumane act I saw that 87% of the people were AGAINST the ban and wanted instead a dangerous dog act and not a ban on a “certain” kind of dog. How was it that the 17% (and most of those wanted to add rotties, sheppards, dovermans etc to the list) ended up being the ones listened to?

    Thank YOU Carolyn Parrish and Pat Sailo for speaking out what MOST everyone else has been thinking. The LAW needs to be revised and the sooner the better. More than 2000 innocent dogs have been put down in this province and NONE of them for being dangerous. Dogs, with good dispostions and temperments, should NOT be distroyed because of how they LOOK . Not only has Bryant and Dalton taken away our dogs, they have taken away our RIGHTS to be responsible citizens and THAT is ALSO just not acceptable.

  2. [quote]This case challenges the ill-conceived breed-specific legislation brought in by Michael Bryant and the McGuinty government.[/quote]

    This is simply a Municipal case.
    It is not challenging Bill 132
    It will not overturn the law even if she wins.
    It will simply mean that this one dog has been found to be not “substantially similar”

    The Ontario Challenge to the Legislation is being handled by Bannedaid(a coalition formed to challenge the law.

    Th case has already gone to the Ontario Superior Court

    Cochrane v. Ontario Decision

    Remedy Decision

    “Pit Bull” terrier was struck down as well as Section 19
    The Liberals also violated Section 7 and 11d of the Federal Charter of Rights

    The case will head to the Ontario Superior Appeal Court later this year.

    It`s very important that ALL Canadians support

    They are fighting for our rights and ALL dogs.
    No dog is safe in Ontario
    Rambo is not one of the 3 banned Pure Breeds.
    He was caught up under “substantially similar” which has not been defined in a court of law.

    There is NO exemption for any other Pure Breeds in Bill 132.
    Your dog may be next.

  3. If you don`t mind I`ll make a small correction to Bandit`s story.

    [quote]It wouldn’t be the first time a dog has been sprung out of an Ontario Dachau. Bandit, a “substantially similar” pup, was sent to Washington state where he is now a K-9 law dog![/quote]

    Bandit was in a shelter not in a doggie jail.
    He was also “restricted” not allegedly “illegal”
    Bandit was chosen to go to Washington for further testing as a LawDog prospect.
    He did not go further in the program and is not working as a K9 in Washington State.
    Bandit is being fostered since leaving the program and will be adopted when a suitable family is found for him.
    A dog from Ontario did graduate from LawDogs.
    His name is Neville
    Neville is a working explosives K9 for the Washington State Patrol and can be
    seen here.

  4. I was trying to email mayor(at) (I changed the (at) to (@)) and it kept telling me that a firewall wouldn’t let me through. So here is my message. I’m sorry that the stats are a little messy…

    I saw an ad that said to send an email to mayor(at) if we thought that what was going on was wrong and we wanted to do something about it. So I am doing something. I think that the ‘humane’ thing to do would be to let this dog go back home. What do they have on it that is so vicious that it should die for it? When it was out wandering around, did it kill anyone? Because thats what people used to do to people who killed others, was give them the death penalty. Now that that rules gone, its still right and ‘humane’ to kill this dog? I find that lately people have been going around all willy-nilly killing pitbulls because they are “vicious”. Are they vicious in the same sense as German Shepherds, Dobermans and Dalamations? They’re not banned anymore. Does that mean that tons of those breeds (who were previously banned) were killed, and now you’re killing tons of pitbulls, and in 10 years they won’t be banned anymore? Are you going to send out formal apologies to all those owners that lost their beloved pets because of a stereotype? Also, there was a study done that other more popular dogs were more likely than pitbulls to bite when aggravated.
    Here are some stats from

    Breed Name Tested Passed Failed Percent
    LHASA APSO 26 18 8 69.2%
    MINIATURE POODLE 64 49 15 76.6%
    ENGLISH SETTER 20 15 5 75.0%
    GIANT SCHNAUZER 245 185 60 75.5%
    GOLDEN RETRIEVER 703 592 111 84.2%
    GREAT DANE 264 209 55 79.2%
    GREYHOUND 63 51 12 81.0%
    WELSH CORGI 61 46 15 75.4%
    COCKER SPANIEL 219 179 40 81.7%
    COLLIE 824 654 170 79.4%
    BORDER COLLIE 238 191 47 80.3%
    BICHON FRISE 29 23 6 79.3%

    Breed Name Tested Passed Failed Percent
    AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER 586 494 92 84.3%

    These are just a few popular breeds that have lower scores than the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier (pitbulls).

    Please also read this site. Pitbulls do NOT have locking jaws.

    ****I’m terribly sorry if this is already done and forgotten about. I saw the ad recently though so I wasn’t sure… Anyways, thank you for reading, and hopefully the mayor and George Carlson will get this. :)

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