NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo will reintroduce the legislation again once the house gets back to work.
Here is an article by Amanda Street at Niagara This Week.
A bullied breed. Sandra Alway with her dog Olive, a five-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier. In 2005, the Ontario government banned pit bulls and related breeds which NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo is trying to reverse with a Private Members Bill, Bill 222.
A bullied breed
It’s the deed not the breed says MPP who tabled bill to repeal pit bull ban
Sandra Alway can’t imagine a life without her dogs. But it’s a hard reality she may soon have to face.
In 2005, the Ontario government banned pit bulls and related breeds. Alway has owned the breed she described as “incredibly smart and sweet” for 22 years. She got her first, a rescue, at age 18.
The Dog Owners Liability Act banned pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers and any dog “that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar” to those listed. Existing dogs were grandfathered into the act, but there were stipulations — muzzled and leashed in all public places, and they must be spayed or neutered.
The legislation left two options for puppies born after November 2005 — euthanization or relocation to a province that allows the breed.
“Five years later and I’m watching my dogs grow old at a rapid rate,” said Alway who has six pit bulls, the youngest of which were born just before the ban was enacted. She had 23 dogs when the ban came into effect. “I’m losing them and it’s really hard to deal with.”
Alway, who is president of the Golden Horseshoe American Pit Bull Terrier Club, said DOLA, without the breed ban, is “a perfect piece of legislation.” It includes jail time and high fines for owners of vicious dogs.
“I love DOLA, it would be fantastic piece of legislation if they just removed the breed specific legislation,” said Alway, who advocated for pit bulls when Bill 132 was brought into legislature.
With the help of Niagara West-Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak, Alway collected more than 100,000 signatures on a petition against the breed ban. “We’re all for jail time, we’re all for high fines. If we had excluded the BSL, it would be perfect.”
The ban was brought back into the public eye on Nov. 18, 2009, when NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo introduced a Private Members Bill, 222, that called for a repeal of the breed specific legislation. “It’s the deed not the breed,” DiNovo shouted from the steps outside Queen’s Park during a rally in support of Bill 222.
The bill was tabled five months after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled it would not hear an appeal to the Supreme Court of Ontario’s decision to not rescind the government’s pit bull ban of 2005.
A recent seizure of two dogs, alleged to be pit bulls by the City of Brampton, has also brought the breed ban into the public eye. Rambo and Brittany, who the owners’ claim are boxer/American bulldog mixes, were seized by the city in January and labelled pit bulls. As the dogs are two years old, and born after the ban went into effect, the dogs were scheduled to be euthanized. The owners are taking the city to court and residents across the province are reacting.
A Facebook group, Injustice Brampton Dogs on Death Row – Free Them Now, has more than 10,000 members.
“These are puppies,” said Alway. “They’re only crime is that they are pit bulls. The ban doesn’t take into consideration how these animals are raised. How the dog behaves is a direct impact of how they were bought up. It’s bad ownership not bad dogs.”
In 2007, 43 pit bulls met their demise at the Lincoln County Humane Society. Staff do their best to relocate the animals, having sent dozens to provinces that do not ban the breed or to the United States, said Kevin Strooband, executive director. The ban, said Strooband, has not stopped people from breeding the banned dogs, noting he has seen full litters of pit bulls and related breeds since the ban was enacted.
“We, at the Lincoln County Humane Society, oppose breed specific legislation because it punishes an entire breed for attacks made by a few dogs,” said Strooband, describing the breed as a “sweet and loving” animal. “I’ve met a lot of pit bulls that are great dogs.”
A study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal in 2008 found that out of 28 dog-bite related fatalities in Canada between 1990 and 2007, only one was caused by a breed banned under DOLA, an American Staffordshire terrier. Dogs most responsible for fatalities in that same period were listed as huskies, shepherds and Rottweiller-type dogs. According to the study, those breeds were responsible for 65 per cent of dog attack deaths.
According to a similar study in the United States, it was found that the top biters by breed are German Shepherds, Rottweillers, Cocker Spaniels, and Golden Retrievers. While it may be shocking for some to see the most common pet, a Golden Retriever, in the top four, it’s a reality, said Strooband.
A 2002 report by the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program, found that German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, Rottweillers and Golden Retrievers had the highest prevalence of reported dog bites.
“Pit bulls have been painted with the wrong brush,” said Strooband, who is also the lead investigator for the Ontario Society for the Protection of Animals. “The onus should be on the owners not on any specific breed. We’ve banned pit bulls, what’s next Dobermans?
Chihuahuas? When does it end?”
Welland New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos called the original bill a “knee jerk reaction” that “ignores the reality of the dog world” and “provides a false sense of security” for the public.
“At the end of the day it does nothing to protect the public from vicious Labradors, retrievers or poodles,” said Kormos, who voted against Bill 132. “A dog is inherent, through part of its genetic makeup to have an instinct to act up, to act wild. It is the responsibility of the dog owner and the dog breeder to keep that instinct in check.”
Hudak, who is now the leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative party, said his party supports Bill 222 because it is similar to a private member’s bill introduced by York North MPP Julia Munro in 2004.
“My view is, and has always been, that a category be created for vicious dogs rather than impose sanctions on an individual breed,” said Hudak. “Punish the deed not the breed.”
Hudak said Bill 132 does nothing to recognize responsible owners and does not protect the public from the “vicious dog next door.”
Calls to St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley were not returned.
“I do believe there is hope that one day the ban will be repealed,” said Alway. “I think it will be a while, but I have I hope. I have to. I can’t imagine not owning these dogs.”
A second reading of Bill 222 is expected to take place in the fall.
For more information on Bill 222 and to send a letter to your local MPP and Premier Dalton McGuinty, visit www.stopcanineprofiling.com
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