DOGGONE IT - RULES ARE
A life-long friend of mine related the following vignette of
justice according to the book of stupidity. Its a case of too much
time wasted to make too many bylaws that are just too stupid to
enforce, in other words - bureaucracy at its worst. I know what
youre thinking, but no, ironically this does not take place in
This brush with justice gone amok took place eight or so years
ago, shortly after my friend moved to the Ottawa Burbs.
Ward Patrick (not his real name) was walking his dog in a local park
around dinner time on a warm, summer evening when he was suddenly
accosted by a Special Police Constable (SPC) who
seemingly had been skulking through the bushes in search of Bylaw
Bandits. Evidently Special Police Constables are
civilians hired to enforce local bylaws, thus relieving the real
Police Officers of this mundane task so they can concentrate on
important matters such as extended coffee breaks!
SPC Barney Fife (not his real name, but nevertheless very
appropriate) demanded in his best (but not very convincing) Clint
Eastwood impression, Is this your dog?
As the dog was on a leash, and my buddy was holding the end of
said leash, the ownership would seem obvious. Considering the noxious
manner in which the question was posed, Ward was tempted to reply
negatively and explain that the dog had rushed up and forcibly thrust
the end of the leash into his hand. Instead, he replied, Yes.
Whats the problem?
The ersatz police wannabe, quivering with anticipation at this
opportunity to demonstrate his quasi-authority, rhymed off to the
letter the bylaw that prohibits the walking of dogs in a public park.
Ward asked why the park wasnt posted accordingly, and SPC Fife
indignantly asserted that it was. Ward invited SPC Fife to view the
place where he had entered the park to see for himself that there was
no sign banning dog- walking. The constable resolutely maintained
that ALL entrances WERE appropriately signed and refused to look. In
hind sight, Ward suspects that the twit knew there was no sign at
that particular location, but was bound and determined to issue a
summons just to prove his authority and fuel his ego! Hence, no look,
sign assumed, summons issued, ego satisfied.
If SPC Fife had known what he was getting into, I sincerely doubt
he would have been so hell-bent to charge my buddy. I can guarantee
that Ward is definitely no pushover, and in fact delights in
challenging officialdom when appropriate and warranted!
By this time civil conversation had graduated into a toe-to-toe
shouting match so vociferous that it had attracted the attention of
both players and fans on an adjacent softball diamond. As Ward was in
a hurry, he finally decided that further dispute with Mayberrys
finest was futile, so stated, OK, enough already. Just give me
The constable, with obvious glee, proceeded to fill in all the
blank spaces on the form. After obtaining name, address, and
telephone number, he demanded, Date of birth?
Ward immediately bristled at this unwarranted invasion of privacy
and demanded, Why?
Well this set SPC Fife off in spectacular fashion! He indicated
in the most authoritarian voice he could muster (mostly a squeaky
falsetto) that Ward had to provide his age, as there was a blank
space for it on the summons! Wards response was to question the
logic of requiring ones age to issue a summons especially for
this type of offence, and that just because there was a space on the
form didnt mean it had to be completed. SPC Fife went ballistic
at this point, and threatened to take Ward in for obstructing an
officer. Ward, on comparing the term officer with the
ridiculous figure now confronting him, replied, Fill your
SPC Fife grabbed his radio and broadcast Officer needs
assistance! As you might expect, this generated an immediate
response from the real police, who no doubt envisaged a wounded
officer, back to the wall, facing a gang of psychopathic killers!
Within minutes a squad car came screeching to a halt, lights
flashing, siren howling. The ball game also came to a halt, and a
crowd gathered to witness apprehension of this seedy-looking
character who had probably committed some heinous crime. Ward
immediately envisaged both he and the dog being handcuffed, read
their rights, dragged to the squad car, and thrust forcibly into the
Actually, when the cop in the squad car heard the reason why he
had been so rudely extracted from the coffee shop, he could only
muster a look of both frustration and embarrassment. Nevertheless, he
advised Ward that it was absolutely necessary to provide his date of
Ward again asked, Why? The police officer was stuck
for an answer. Ward explained that he had provided SPC Fife with all
the relevant information concerning name, address, etc., but felt
there was absolutely no requirement to provide date of birth for a
local bylaw offence. The cop replied, OK, since you wont
give your age, Ill just do a computer search and get your age
that way. He then proceeded to contact the dispatcher,
requesting the age of the suspect Ward Patrick, of such and such an
After several minutes, the dispatcher advised, Negative on
Well then, where do we go from here? Ward asked as it
was now getting to the point where he would be late for his
appointment. The cop, completely frustrated, ordered SPC Fife to give
Ward the summons without the date of birth being filled in. After
mumbling a few not-so-niceties to SPC Fife, the cop jumped into his
squad car, and sped off.
SPC Fife, in a somewhat chastened manner, completed the summons,
handed it to Ward, and then asked him to sign it. Ward of course
asked, Why? SPC Fife almost exploded, and hinted he would
arrest Ward if he didnt sign.
Ward had now reached the boiling point. This twit had cost him
over two hours of his time, and the summons was obviously going to
lighten his wallet. He looked the quasi-cop in the eyes and in a very
serious voice said, I dont believe this! You give someone
a uniform and a badge, and they go on a power trip! By all means call
back the squad car, and well see what the real police have to
say about this!
It didnt take SPC Fife very long to reach a decision.
Without saying a word, he handed Ward the unsigned summons, turned on
his heels, and disappeared.
- The summons cost Ward $25.
- A sign was later erected at the location where Ward had entered the
- It is not known whether the date of birth, and signing issues were
ever addressed by the municipality.
- SPC Fife has never been seen again.
- The dog has never been seen again.
- Ward now raises tropical fish.