At a Glance
Under the current “pit bull” ban (BSL) the following can happen to anyone who has a dog and does not have papers to prove the breed:
- animal control can enter homes without a warrant and take your dogs.
- reverse onus is now law. (prove your innocence instead of being proved guilty)This is a direct violation of the Charter) One must now prove any mutt is not a “pit bull”. One must prove the impossible, since a pit bull is not a registered breed.
- When questioned about repealing the Ban, McGuinty constantly says they got the best advice they could. The problem is the Liberal government did not listen to that advice: Every one of the 43 credible Experts and Expert groups representing thousands, were against the ban including , Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, several dog trainers, the Ontario and Canadian SPCA.
- In Canada since 1964 when dog bite death statistics have been collected, 2 of the 47 deaths were from “pit bull” type dogs. In fact, of the dogs listed on the “banned breed” list – one breed, the Staffordshire bull terrier, has NO known attacks in Canada. All of the banned breeds have actually been listed as some of the best breeds for children by University researchers. This fact alone presents the question – are breed bans really based on proof of inherent danger?
- Since 1964 when stats were taken there has never been a child killed by a “pit bull” type dog.
Most statistics come from news articles and are presented then as scientific data yet it has been proven that you cannot identify a breed based on looks alone.
Most medium sized, stocky, broad headed, small eared dogs with short coats are pit bulls or pit-bull mixes. A study done by Dr. by Victoria Voith, Professor of Animal Behaviour, at Western University showed that visual breed identification was impossible.
“The discrepancy between breed identifications based on opinion and DNA analysis, as well as concerns about reliability of data collected based on media reports, draws into question the validity and enforcement of public and private polices pertaining to dog breeds.”
Below are the dogs targeted by the Dog Owner’s Liability Act (DOLA);
- (a) a pit bull terrier,
- (b) a Staffordshire Bull Terrier,
- (c) an American Staffordshire Terrier,
- (d) an American Pit Bull Terrier,
- (e) a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to those dogs referred to in any of clauses (a) to (d); (“pit-bull”)
Although 3 “breeds” are included in Ontario’s BSL, many more dogs and responsible dog owners are being effected by DOLA, due to the “substantially similar” clause and the “proof of innocence” aspect of this legislation. According to Dr. Tim Zaharchuk, of the OVMA, 32 breeds of dogs could fall under substantially similar.
It has been reported that in 2007 one person every three days was “ticketed” for having an “illegal” dog In Ontario. Many of which are and have been mixes of the other 32 breeds of dogs that are “commonly mistaken”, as pit bull type dogs, even by experts, Many “responsible” dog owners have incurred huge court costs trying to save their pets. Many others have had to take and or send their dogs out of Province in order to save them and sadly, thousands of good family dogs have been put down.
The ASPCA and National Canine Research Council released a study in 2010 citing that when the media is informed of a dog attack they are not interested unless the term, “pit bull” is used in the description of the dog involved. Many times the same attack will be covered and a mixed breed mutt will suddenly become a “pit bull”. A whole book, The Pit Bull Placebo, by Karen Delise, was written on the biased reporting of the media.
Why BSL does not work
In reality, singling out certain breeds of dogs provides a false sense of security and has proven not to work. Breed Specific laws do nothing to address proven factors that contribute to a dog’s likelihood of displaying dangerous behaviour such as;
- Owner irresponsibility
- Abuse and neglect
- Being inhumanely chained
- Dogs roaming at-large
Several countries and jurisdictions have lifted their bans because they saw no decrease in bites and attacks. (some examples)
- Netherlands, 2008 after 15 years
- Italy, April 2009
- UK is on the second reading of the Bill to repeal their breed ban
Jurisdictions with breed bans do not see a reduction in bites.
Ontario: According to the THS, in a study in April of 2010 showing that bites have not substantially decreased. In fact 2 out of the 4 years since the ban, bites actually increase. According to the humane society’s study, there were 5,428 reported dog bites in 2005, the year the ban came into effect. Here are the numbers since then:
- 2006 – 5,360
- 2007 – 5,492
- 2008 – 5,463
- 2009 – 5,345
Denver, Colorado has had BSL since 1989. Their bites keep going up every year. According to statistics provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Between 1995 and 2006, Denver had almost six times as many dog-related hospitalizations compared to Boulder, even though Denver’s population is half that of Boulder. During the 12-years, Denver had 273 dog-related hospitalizations, while Boulder experienced only 46. The Labrador is now the top biter there. Denver is the only area in Colorado with BSL yet has higher than the state average for dog bites.
Karen Delise, founder and director of research for the National Canine Research Council, said breed-specific legislation does nothing to educate owners on their responsibilities for owning a dog. She said without that component, there is no way to keep dog bites down.
A Solution That Works: Upholds Public Safety
- Calgary’s animal control is not funded by taxpayer dollars since their dog licensing rate is 95%
- Dog bites in Calgary have gone down from 2000 in 1985 to 158 in 2009.
- They take the time in Calgary to keep detailed records of bites (200 point record for each incident) Punishment for being an irresponsible owner is severe.
- Effective laws that protect responsible dog owner’s rights and holding only irresponsible owners accountable is required. We implore the media to report responsibility and support the thousands and thousands of responsible dog owning citizens in Ontario who are and have been unfairly victimized by this legislation.
CALGARY, ALBERTA – HOME OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL ANIMAL CONTROL PROGRAM IN NORTH AMERICA
From mission statement to action, their goal is:
- Identify the issues
- Engage the community
- Build a process that works
- Make people see licensing as win-win (95% voluntary compliance)
- Back it up (5% enforcement)
- Measure It (how do you know you are improving?)
4 Principles of Responsible Pet Ownership
- License and provide permanent identification for your pets
- Spay or neuter your pets
- Provide training, care and proper medical attention for your pets
- Don’t allow pets to become a threat or a nuisance
Make it Easy
- Make licenses easy to buy.
- Encourage training, socialization and exercise for a better behaved dog.
- Create easy access to well-regulated off-leash areas.
- Conduct programs targeting kids of all ages.
- Promote responsible pet ownership.
- Foster safe and responsible communities.
- Teach young people proper pet ownership and how to treat animals.
Calgary has seen a huge reduction in dog bites even though the population has increased dramatically. They achieved an all time low in dog incidents this year. This is without Breed-Specific Legislation, mandatory neutering (although it is highly encouraged) or limiting the number of pets you can own. Their animal control facility is state-of-the-art with a friendly staff and an eye to customer service. Even with these successful programs in place and a proven track record to back them up, Calgary is looking to the future. They have broken ground for the free spay/neuter clinic to be available to less well-off families and strive for even higher licensing compliance. This program fits any size town, city or province. It was presented to the current government of Ontario as an alternative to the breed ban, but was ignored!