Owners call bull on dog bans

Legislation against certain breeds of dogs gets another look

by Charlie Gillis

They say that once it sinks its teeth in, a pit bull terrier won’t let go. A stereotype, of course, but it might apply—at least metaphorically—to owners of the much-maligned pooches. After years of lobbying against legal restrictions aimed at their beloved animals, their tenacity is paying off.

Last week, Edmonton became the latest community to reconsider so-called “breed-specific” animal-control legislation, acknowledging a lack of evidence that such rules reduce attacks, and the difficulty of determining a dog’s breed without expensive DNA testing. A city council committee recommended scrapping bylaw wording that forces pit bull owners to pay higher licensing fees and fines, to chain or pen their dogs when the animals are outdoors and to carry $1 million in liability insurance. Edmonton isn’t the only jurisdiction responding to the pleas of dog-owner groups who see the targeted rules as discriminatory and ineffective. Two years ago, Delta, B.C., dropped its dangerous-breed designation; in New Westminster, B.C., city council agreed last spring to re-examine a similar provision. Last May, Ontario’s Liberal government was embarrassed when a private members’ bill to repeal a pit-bull ban passed second reading with support from all three parties. Even United Airlines has let pit bulls back on its planes.

The breed remains a lightning rod (Maple Ridge, B.C., recently considered, and rejected, a pit-bull ban). But to April Fahr, spokeswoman for B.C.’s HugABull advocacy group, there’s a “slow and steady progression” toward sanctioning problem owners. “It’s easier for us to blame a gene,” she says, “than to look at the real reason for dog aggression, and that’s the behaviour of owners.”




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Owners call bull on dog bans

  1. Nice article and well done. Thanks.

  2. Thank you for reporting on this important issue. Discrimination against dog owners that happen to own a certain shape of dog is illogical and insane. It is time Ontario now repeals this draconian law. Cheers to fair and equal treatment under the law.

  3. thank you for the fair and logical article. We will be sharing it!

  4. Nice piece, short, sweet and accurate. Thanks for mentioning our Bill in Ontario. It passed out of Committee and was ordered for a final vote but our hastily departed Premier refused to put it on the roster. We’re still here and he’s gone, with his tail tucked between his legs.

  5. Great article, highlighting the truth in a few short words.
    Anything, in the wrong hands, can be dangerous – from a gun or car, to a dog, to a kitchen fork. Let’s start placing the blame where it belongs and educating and enforcing laws to support responsible dog ownership.
    I was attacked by a large dog at a young age, and grew up from there with a knowledge, understanding and respect for the power of dogs. I do not live my life in fear, and I will not blame a certain breed (purebred or mutt) for what I experienced as a child. I live with large dogs now and am a responsible dog owner. Banning breeds (and anything that looks like it might kinda be one… as they do in Ontario) is not the answer to the dog bite problem.

  6. Kudos to MacLeans for this excellent and refreshing article. Education is key to overcoming discrimination and profiling of any kind. Breed Bans don’t work its a smoke & mirror “band-aid” that makes for ineffective laws that protect no one. Several studies have shown that a dogs looks has nothing to do with their temperment and owner responsibility and accountabilty is the only way that will really reduce dog bites. More information on this issue can be obtaining by visiting http://www.supporthersheysbill.com under the menu Resources & Documentation.

  7. So thrilled to see an article about “pit bulls” that references the facts! Any dog can be dangerous in the wrong hands. We need to educate owners, not blame the dogs! Bill 16 in ontario passed second reading and should have been called for third reading, ending breed bans in the province, but the Premiers sudden disappearance and decision to prorogue parliament has stopped bill 16 from moving forward. While this is incredibly frustrating for everyone, we know it is only a matter of time before sanity and science prevail!

  8. Does anyone know anything about at what stage New West is in their review?

  9. My neighbors malamute tried to attack me the other day! He was on a leash (thankfully) or I would have ended up at the Er. The dog was on “his” property and his reaction to me entering the common area of the building produced a fear reaction, which manifested as extreme aggression. (Lunging, snapping, growling, ears back, barking). His teeth grazed my arm but the owner jerked him back by pulling hard on his leash. A dangerous dog is a dangerous dog. My American Pit Bull has never ever ever reacted with the slightest bit of aggression towards people or other animals in any situation. And yet, if BSL is passed in BC it’s my dog who will have to be muzzled and restricted from enjoying the parks. BSL is so misguided. Animals can be dangerous but it needs to evaluated on a case by case basis. My neighbors dog is, in my experience, a dangerous animal. My dog, the pit bull, is not. BSL is not keeping people safe. It simply punishes good dogs with good owners and pushes irresponsible owners and their abused dogs underground!

  10. Thank you so much for the positive press regarding pitbulls. They have been tortured in so many ways and it’s about time we give them the credit they deserve. Keep it up!

  11. I think having legislation where dogs are required to attend obedience classes would make sooo much more sense than banning specific dogs. I love dogs of all shapes and sizes, and the only breeds that have ever bitten me were an untrained shihtzu and an un neutered male Alaskan Malamute, 2 breeds that have no legislation whatsoever. And I owned a dog walking business with many pit bull clients for years with zero problems! Every dog needs socialization, rules and structure, and unless you’re a professional dog breeder AND trainer, you shouldn’t be breeding your dogs! Most dog bites are from un neutered male dogs, whether against humans or other dogs.

  12. Now if maple ridge would just stop the ban on specific cat breeds!!! The dogs got a repeal but not certain breeds of cats and now they will be up for euthanasia before Christmas

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