The Windsor-Essex County Humane Society announced Tuesday that Justice the dog, who rose to fame due to cruel treatment from a previous owner several years ago, died at the age of 11.
The little Patterdale terrier in late 2015, just days before Christmas, was found abandoned near death in a field near a Canadian Tire store on Walker Road with its mouth and legs tied with electrical tape.
After being rescued and recovered by human society, Justice was finally adopted to a new home in the summer of 2016. The duct tape had left permanent marks on his face.
The dog died Monday after a brief illness with his new family in Kingsville by his side.
“We really want to thank her family for providing her such a wonderful life,” said Melanie Coulter, CEO of the Humane Society. “After we took care of him, we were grateful to see him happy and loved in such a wonderful way that he really deserved it after what he had been through.”
Not only did Justice’s story move thousands of people locally, it even appeared on ABC News in a story about animal cruelty. The local humane society sold Justice stuffed animals as a fundraiser to raise awareness of animal cruelty.
Justice’s story became so remarkable for many reasons, Coulter said.
“He was such a small dog and what happened was a terrible experience,” he said. “His face showed how terrible it was for him, so it was hard to miss. He also came to us just before Christmas and people really hooked up with him just before the holidays.
“His eyes and the way he looked at you also showed that he had been through a lot.”
The treatment of justice by the previous owner resulted in a jail sentence.
The villager pleaded guilty to the charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and received a two-year jail sentence in a federal penitentiary and the maximum 25-year ban on keeping a pet. He was also sentenced to probation for three years after his release from prison.
Justice helped raise awareness of the need to improve animal cruelty legislation, Coulter said.
“I think it did a lot to raise awareness of stricter laws against animal cruelty and better protection of animals,” he said. “Many people advocated after seeing what happened to Justice. Much has changed along the way, but we still have a long way to go. The need to advocate for better cruelty laws remains critical. “