Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hershey's Bill needs your help to succeed!

We are asking for your help.

As you may have heard a tri-party supported Hershey's Bill was introduced in the House of Legislature November 30th by PC MPP Randy Hillier. The Bill is co-sponsored by NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo and Liberal MPP Kim Craitor! This is huge.. it is rare to have a Private Members Bill sponsored by all 3 parties!

Please visit this website and sign the petition. 

Please consider sending a Christmas card to your MPP asking them to support Randy Hillier's Bill 16 to repeal the "pitbull" ban. Second reading and debates are February 23, 2012.

It would be most helpful for the Ontario government to witness the overwhelming support in favor of repealing the ban!

Bill 16 seeks to repeal all breed specific portions of the Dog Owners Liability Act. For a bit of background, the ban was originally implemented by the McGuinty Liberals in August, 2005. The ban targeted 3 purebred breeds, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pitbull Terrier plus the "pitbull" which is a slang term for an appearance of dog. This appearance has nothing to do with the genetic makeup of the 3 named purebreds as they are all very rare. There are less than 1000 dogs of all three purebreds combined in the province of Ontario but yet the common short haired mutt is one of the most common mutts in the province. There have been roughly over 6000 dogs killed in Ontario since August 2005, not based on behavior but looks. Many of these dogs included puppies that were deemed "pitbulls". The purebreds are rarely seen and most people have never actually met one. That being said, it is highly likely the common short haired mutt is likely a blend of a multitude of  crosses constituting of what are likely the more common breeds. In other words the purebreds named in the law are physically unable to parent the massive majority of the provinces common short haired mutt. These are dogs of unknown lineage and there is no way of determining the breed makeup of a cross bred dog. What I am presenting to you is fact and can be supported by hard evidence. What is my opinion is that this law is insane; however I think if you have any logic at all, you would have to agree with my hypothesis.

What Bill 16 will achieve if it successfully passes through the legislature is;

1. To keep DOLA intact but returning it to its original form keeping the stiffer penalties it now contains.
2. To remove all references to breeds but instead have the law apply to ALL dog owners equally.

Essentially what we dog owners want is FAIR AND EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER THE LAW.

As it stands now in an overly simplified view;
If your dog is deemed a "pitbull" or you own one of the purebreds, you are open to warrant-less entry of your property, reverse onus (prove your dog is not a "pitbull" but you cannot prove a negative), search and seizure in public, restrictions on mobility (cannot travel through the province), dog must be muzzled, leashed, spayed, neutered and if you own a dog falling under the law born after November 29, 2005 it is prohibited. The penalty of being found guilty means your dog is seized/killed/or sent for research. 

The law is harsh, cruel and irrational. There is NO scientific evidence to support dogs are dangerous by breed. There is NO scientific evidence to support that you can breed dogs for aggression since aggression is a learned behavior. There IS scientific evidence to support that banning breeds of dogs DOES NOT increase public safety!

Countless family pets have been seized from homes or picked up while out on an accidental neighborhood joyride, only to be killed or thousands spent on legal fees fighting for the dog's life! Very few cases have involved actual threatening circumstances! In many cases the owner signs the dog over to be killed because they cannot afford to defend themselves in court. 

The law targets dog owners for owning a certain "look" of dog and is not based on behavior of the owner or dog but simply on how the dog "looks". 

It is irrational to think that if someone's dog bites someone in Thunder Bay, someone in Ottawa should be punished. 

All dogs have the ability to bite. That being said, dog bites are not common, however dog/s reside in nearly half of all family homes. Statistically 96% of all dog bites happen at home with the family dog or an adjacent property. Your chances of being bitten by a dog or by a strange dog are really quite remote! 

Public Health do not record dog bites by breed.  Public Health is the only entity that records all bites that require medical attention but only collect dog/human incidents. Therefore if you are hearing bite stats by breed in Ontario, it is safe to assume the stats are inconclusive. Toronto Animal Services collect bite stats of their own accord but they only have access to bites they are called to, which is only a fraction of the overall bites. They record all bites whether dog/human, dog/dog or dog/domestic animal. The are recorded by breed but the breed determination is their own and AC officers have been deemed in court NOT to be experts. Ontario animal control licencing programs sit on an average of licensing only between 10 - 15% of dogs in any town/city therefore they really do not know how many dogs reside in Ontario.

The original DOLA protects the public from dangerous dogs and their incompetent owners; however it must be enforced. The Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw in Calgary is a model on a municipal level that is tried and true for the past 2 decades. They have virtually eliminated bites, have a 97% licensing program and run a revenue neutral, state of the art facility that keeps dog owners and non dog owners happy. Calgary has NO breed specific provisions, no pet limits and no mandatory spay/neuter. They reward owners for "good" behavior and enforce penalties on those who are not!

I hope that you will join us by supporting this important move to end discrimination of dog owners in Ontario based on what type or look of dog one owns. Please join us in the movement to FAIR AND EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER THE LAW. 

Help us PUSH Dalton McGuinty to support the repeal of the breed ban in Ontario.


  1. Here Here! Well said and presented. I for one am e-mailing this article to my family and friends asking them to support Bill 16, with this informative article that explains the issue quite clearly and provides the essential links required. Thank You!

  2. This is a good first step, but ONLY a first step, as the law was not properly thought through. While it will, if passed, remove the PROVINCIAL ban, it does nothing to address breed bans at the municipal level.
    Under the Municipalities Act, the provincial government DOES have the authority to require the repeal of these bylaws, but this bill makes no effort to do so.
    The problem is that it has the potential to create a patchwork of varying, ever-changing and possibly contradictory bylaws, where your dog is legal in this town, but not the next one over, and travelling with your dog will still be impossible without a constantly updated map showing which towns or counties you may pass through, and which you need to avoid.
    To my mind, this is not much of an improvement at all, and may even make things worse.
    All it would have taken was to write in an amendment stating that no municipality in Ontario may pass or enforce breed-specific bylaws, and the problem would be fixed. There are instances in the US where this has been done, state laws prohibiting breed specific bylaws.
    Bill 16 does not address this, and should have.

  3. Anon #2 You are quite right that Bill 16 would not make it impossible for municipalities to ban breeds but they had the power to do so prior to 2005 as well and some did. Mike Harris changed the Municipal Act in 2001 and as of now the province doesn't have the authority to dictate to the municipalities whether or not they can ban breeds of dogs at the municipal level.

    The Act would need to be further amended in order to have the jurisdiction over the AMO.

    I am not sure why you think this would leave us worse off? A provincial offence is far more serious than a municipal bylaw. Fighting a bylaw infraction is far easier than being charged under DOLA at the provincial level. The state of affairs since 2005 has "taught" municipalities a few things as well. There are a few "hangers on" but for the most part they have felt first hand how expensive and ineffective banning breeds is!

    Many jurisdictions have spoke publicly they are not actively enforcing the ban, such as Ottawa (McGuinty's own riding!).

    If there is any good that has come of this whole horror show, it is that this issue has been brought forward so that it is talked about and Calgary as a model is working its way to being common knowledge. There are alternatives that actually do something about public safety as opposed to discriminating, ripping dogs out of loving homes and killing them for how they look!

    Obviously there is a long road ahead to improve all laws concerning animal welfare. For such a progressive country, our laws concerning animal welfare are quite archaic. Complacency has brought us to a point that common sense flew out the window. That being said, Canada is in much better standing than most countries. We have no pet overpopulation problem. We do have an efficiency problem with municipal bylaws. We have an enforcement problem with DOLA (aside from the amendment which is the ban). It has only been really used to kill so called "pitbulls" yet simultaneously owners with other types of dogs don't seem to get the same punishment even though the law does apply to all dog owners of dangerous dogs. There is a bit of a pet retention problem in Canada but certainly not serious.
    I certainly don't see how repealing the ban could make things worse for us. I am assuming you are on the same side of the issue as I am? but would love to hear your theory on that.
    One last point, you cannot compare Canadian jurisdiction or law to US. There are too many differences. What works there doesn't necessarily work here. Precedence is good but there is a big difference between precedence and implementing it into law.

  4. I think they should get rid of the bill since it is not the dogs fault it is the owners. If the dog attacks it's one thing but i have owned one for 14 years and not once has he done anything wrong. there are other dogs out there that attack but when it comes to being a pitbull. well it is totally diffrent. i believe that a pitbull is a great andloyal dog,depending on training but any dog can be the same depending on there training too. i have been attacked by a dog and it wasn't a pitbull so what aboutthose dog'sdo they get the same treatment no.....................

  5. Lori:

    The province still has the big hammer, the chequebook. If the Municipal Act was amended once, it can be again.
    Ultimately, when they steal your dog and kill him, then bill you for it, how much difference is it whether they use a provincial law or a city bylaw to justify it?
    Here's how a patchwork of conflicting bylaws can make things worse:
    Let's say BSL was repealed right this minute. You cross the border from Detroit, where pitbulls are legal. They're banned in Windsor, but not the rest of Essex County EXCEPT for Lakeshore Township. They're banned in Kent County, EXCEPT for the town of Blenheim. They're legal in Elgin County, legal in Middlesex County, but NOT in the city of London. Legal in Ingersoll, but not in Woodstock. Legal in Cambridge, but not in Kitchener-Waterloo. Legal in Halton, EXCEPT for the town of Milton. Banned in Mississauga, but legal in Toronto. It's the ultimate "GOTCHA!!", there's no way to keep it straight where you're legal and where you're not, and of course municipal bylaws change constantly according to which way the political wind is blowing.
    The courts take the view that "ignorance of the law is no excuse", which is crap. Enter a new town, you'll see those big signs that say "Welcome to Whereverville, population whatever", but they sure as hell don't post a their bylaws on them, and if they did, it's sure to be out of date.
    Of course, they'll make a fortune, fining people from out of town...
    Am I the only one who sees a problem with this?

  6. Anon, it's the same in the U.S. Cities have passed "breed" specific legislation that is specifically prohibited by state law, and taxpayers' money is wasted by their duking it out.

    It's necessary to amend the Municipalities Act to give the province power over municipalities again, and that would lead to another expensive fight.

    To get a municipality to change its by-laws, the residents should stand up on their hind legs, kick their councillors into gear and get the "breed" specific by-law(s) repealed.

  7. Definitely a good first step.

    But Anon' is right, the Municipal Act needs to be amended. And City-specific, and Municipality-specific Bans need to be fought and removed, until there are none left. We've let the ignorant dictate and have their fun long enough.

  8. Without DOLA, the majority of munis will not bother enacting BSL. The handful that have it may keep it, but that's where citizens must become active.

    Enacting BSL is usually an announcement that a muni has an entrenched criminal subculture they are unable to dislodge. This 'tool in the toolbox' gives them the power to circumvent certain civil rights in order to pursue criminals. That's why 'pit bulls' are so popular - pretty much any shorthaired dog of any size can be a 'pit bull' if somebody wants him to be.

    That said, it is easier to fight a municipal bad law because Councillors live in the community and are very close to their constitutents.

    So, Job One is to repeal the DOLA amendments.