Friday, September 28, 2007

Calgary, dog owners are the city's customers!

Brent at KC Dog Blog has nicely summarized Bill Bruce's presentation to their Canine Legislation Conference.

Bill is the manager of Animal Control for Calgary and, based on the comments here, that city is incredibly far ahead in their animal control philosophy.
Note that when the Ontario Liberal government was asked to allow Bill to make a verbal presentation to their Dog Owners' Liability Act committee hearings, they refused.
Yet they met personally with Tim Dack from Winnipeg, a city that has had a breed ban in place since 1991, yet was only able to reduce their dog bites 10 years later when they copied Calgary's policies.
Talk about ignoring the experts and only listening to people who parrot exactly what you're trying to ram through!
Click here to read Brent's summary of Bill's presentation
Note that the "KC" mentioned throughout his article refers to Kansas City, where Brent is based.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

When is a Labrador Retriever a "pitbull"?

We were contacted this week by one of our readers in response to the article “Persecution, Ontario Style”. She was offering support in light of a very similar incident which happened last year to her mother, who wishes to remain anonymous.

The reader’s mother lives in Thornhill, Ontario.  Thornhill is a well-to-do area just north of Toronto where the houses are large and well kept and the residents tend to be educated and successful.

On a hot summer day in July, 2006, out of the blue, the doorbell rang.

The 64-year-old woman opened the door to find an Animal Control Officer (ACO) standing there. As it was such a hot day, she invited the officer into the house where it was cooler.  He asked if he could see her dog. The woman obliged, assuming they were following up on the licensing program in Thornhill.

 “Lucky”, a five-year-old Labrador Retriever, was licensed with the city.  The woman went into the backyard and brought Lucky, who was wearing her collar and licence tag, into the house to meet the ACO.

The officer began to take many pictures of Lucky. He didn't ask Lucky's breed, age or anything else about her. 

After he had taken the photos, he pulled out some papers which explained DOLA (Dog Owners Liability Act) and the amendments which ban American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and any dogs which are substantially similar to those breeds.

He then informed the woman that he was taking Lucky with him to be destroyed.

The shocked and horrified dog owner didn’t understand what was happening.  She started to cry for fear of what would happen to her dog. To have an ACO arrive at your house unexpectedly and to invite them in on a hot day and then hear them say that they are taking your dog for destruction is almost incomprehensible.

At this point, the woman’s husband came into the room. He promptly escorted the officer off the property and told him not to come back unless he had a warrant and court order for the destruction of their dog.

One month later, two police officers showed up at this couple’s door and charged them under DOLA with owning a prohibited dog.

Lucky is a five-year-old black, purebred, registered Labrador Retriever.
The couple took the registration papers to their set court date which proved their dog is not banned in the province of Ontario.  The charges were dismissed.

Imagine what would have happened had Lucky not been a registered purebred dog. How many dogs in the province are unregistered?  How many are mixed breed dogs that CANNOT be registered? There is NO proof of your dog’s breed without registration papers. The Canadian Kennel Club estimates that only 10% of Ontario dogs are purebred and registered. That means that 90% of all dogs in Ontario cannot have their lineage proved. That means that 90% of all dogs in Ontario, when found in this situation could lose their lives if they are not Lucky!

The couple feel this whole situation may have started over a neighbour dispute over how to cut the hedge bordering on both properties. They have no proof because Animal Control won't release the names of complainants, but can’t think of any other reason why that ACO came knocking on their door on that nightmarish day.

Between the time of the visit and subsequent charges being laid and the court appearance the woman had a heart attack and was diagnosed with stomach ulcers. Her doctor attributed both to stress!

We hope she is well on her way to recovery!

It is sickening to think about what this Ontario Liberal Government has done to responsible citizens of this province!

It is now a crime to own somebody's idea of the wrong shape of dog in Ontario!

It makes us very angry to know that responsible dog owners in the Province of Ontario were legislated into SECOND CLASS STATUS AND HAD THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS STRIPPED BECAUSE OF GRANDSTANDING AND GOVERNMENT IRRESPONSIBILITY!!

Lucky is a shorter than standard, stocky pet dog. In the words of the owner “she still looks like a Lab, just a fat one!”

Lucky was named as such because the woman felt she was “lucky” her husband agreed to let her get a dog..

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ontario's MPP voting record for Bill 132 2005

Click here to view the voting records of all Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament who had the opportunity to vote on Bill 132 on March 1, 2005.
The tables are split into those who voted for the bill, those who voted against it, and those who didn't vote.
Unfortunately, Ontario has since changed the names and composition of many of its ridings (voting districts), so the old ridings no longer apply in the 2007 election.

You can use the following pages to find your electoral district and to compare old districts to new:

Lists of candidates are available at the parties' individual websites:
     Green Party:
     New Democratic Party:
     Progressive Conservative Party:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Persecution Ontario Style

She was at home with her two young children one afternoon in July when there was a knock at the door. An ACO officer said he was there to follow up on a complaint. He did not specify what the complaint was, however later she found out it was someone in her apartment building complained she owned “pit bulls”.

This person has 2 dogs. One is 1 ½ years old (a Jack Russell Terrier mix) and the other is a 4 month old pup she describes as a hound cross. The hound cross was given to her by another couple who told her they could not keep the dog and couldn’t think of a better home for him.

The ACO officer asked if he could come in. She then invited him in, not suspecting any trouble since she had done nothing wrong. Her dogs are and have been always under her watchful eye, leashed on walks and they play with all the children who live in the apartment building. Once the ACO officer was in her apartment he asked her “have you ever heard of the “pit bull” ban”?  She was quite shocked and answered, “yes I have heard of it, but it doesn’t apply to me or my dogs since I do not own ‘pit bulls’.” The ACO officer then asked her if he could take some pictures of her dogs. She agreed, thinking it was for a licensing infraction. He had also asked her if her dogs were licensed.  The woman told me her dogs sat quietly while he snapped several pictures of them from several different angles. During this process, the woman’s children were becoming quite nervous and upset with the ACO officer’s tone.  They started to ask if this man was going to take their dogs and began to cry.  The ACO officer then told the children he was not going to take their dogs and asked the woman to come out to the hall to speak to him privately.

He told the dog owner out in the hall that "having this breed of dog is the same as possessing illegal drugs".  He handed her his business card and a blank SPCA card with 'Surrender for Destruction" written on it.

He also gave her three pamphlets:  the City Bylaw, the Dog Owners' Liability Act (DOLA) section on 'Pit Bull' Controls and the entire DOLA.

The dog owner was dumbfounded.  She didn't understand what was wrong.

He told her the dogs had to be destroyed.  He made an appointment to come back the next day at the same time to collect the dogs if she hadn't already turned them in.  He warned her to be sure the dogs were handed in or were there when he returned.  He cautioned her not to think of moving them to a nearby town.  "If they go anywhere, it has to be out of province".

When he returned the next day to carry out his task, she told him the dogs were gone.
"What?" was his response "Where are they?  Where are the dogs?"
"They're not here.  If you have any paperwork, then charge me with something".
"Where are the dogs?"
"Sorry sir, they're not here"
He tried to get into her apartment to look around.

She told him to come back with a warrant, slammed the door and locked it.

It took one month for anyone to contact the woman again regarding this matter. However, several weeks ago, police knocked at her door to formally charge her with 2 counts of owning a prohibited dog under DOLA.
On August 29, 2005, against significant expert opposition, the Ontario Liberal government implemented Bill 132 (2005) to amend the existing Dog Owners' Liability Act.  This document attempts to summarize the key changes to the Act.
§         The law defines a "pit bull" as a pit bull terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, an American Pit Bull Terrier, or a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to those dogs.  If your dog appears to be in this category and your dog lived in Ontario on August 29, 2005, or was born in Ontario before November 27, 2005, you own a "restricted dog".  Restricted dogs must be muzzled, leashed, and sterilized.  If your dog appears to be in this category and it was born in Ontario after November 26, 2005, or was brought into Ontario after August 29, 2005, your dog is illegal. It could be confiscated and destroyed and you could be fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to up to six months in jail.

I have kept in close contact with this woman. She feels very isolated and afraid for her dogs' lives, her children’s wellbeing (they have been in a state of fear since this all began) and is nervous about having been charged under provincial legislation, which carries a harsh penalty if found guilty. In further communication with her I've learned of several different points that have come to light since her initial visit from the ACO.

Apparently, there is a licensing push on at the apartment complex. Bylaw officers have been visiting the apartment buildings, selling licence tags door-to-door.  They are trying to boost licensing compliance, which is at about 10% across the province.

The dogs in question are mainly white, medium-small dogs which to me look like pariahs - I have pictures which I don't want to post here.  They could be anything but the Jack Russell mix description fits very well.  The pup is too young at four months to be more than a white, short-haired pup with a longish snout and some black markings.

I asked if she had any ideas about how the officer happened to be carrying a camera.  She suspects, but can't prove, that the new superintendents reported all the dog owners to Bylaw enforcement.  Apparently the new superintendents have been hassling people about their dogs. 

She has never had any complaints from anyone about her dogs.  They are well behaved and the older one is very obedient and gets along with everybody. Immediately following the first visit from the ACO officer ALL the children who live in the apartment building wrote letters to the officer telling him how all the kids play with these two dogs. They expressed how they know and love these dogs and that they would not hurt anyone.

For the dogs’ safety, they were sent to a safe place. They will not return home until this court case is over. Their lives depend on it and the woman is not willing to take any chances. The kids miss their dogs, Mum misses the dogs and you can bet the dogs miss everybody. The woman has retained a lawyer and her first day in court is next week.

If you are an Ontario dog owner and your pet could be even remotely construed to be a 'pit bull' as described in the Ontario Liberals' pet piece of discriminatory legislation, please take steps to protect your pet. 

What this story illustrates is that the message from above is that it's OK to persecute people based on a subjective belief and that if they are perceived as easy targets, all the better.

Until the Ontario law is overturned or repealed, please keep your dog (and yourself) safe from harm.

1.  Ensure that your dog is licensed and leashed in public, regardless of breed.  Avoid allowing members of the public to interact directly with your dog.

2. If you think your dog fits the 'pit bull' physical description, or if you've licensed your dog as a 'pit bull', American Pit Bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or Staffordshire Bull terrier or cross of those breeds, follow the leashing, muzzling and neutering restrictions in the law.  Be aware that you are at risk.  You may be subject to spot checks by officials in your area.

3.  If your dog is a mongrel of unknown ancestry, license him or her as a mixed breed - because that is the only possible description.

4.  Don't let the authorities bully you or make you feel as if you are breaking the law.  Make them prove their case. 

5.  Your veterinarian will not divulge any treatment info or details about your dog to authorities without your consent.  It is similar to human health care information - private.  Your veterinarian may indicate that a dog is a patient at the clinic but that's all they will say.

6. If you have not entered your show dog in a sanctioned conformation event (CKC, UKC, ADBA, AKC) yet this year, don't put it off any longer.  Enter one now or your dog could be confiscated and killed for being intact.

7. If you find yourself in a position similar to the one described in the story, do not say anything to officials.  Do not invite them in to your home. Do not let them interact with your dog(s) no matter what kind of dog you own or how nice the ACO’s seem.   Tell them that unless they have a warrant, they cannot enter your premises and then close your door.

Hang tough. 

Being a dog owner in Ontario doesn't mean you've given up all of your constitutional rights, even though it often seems that way. 

You are still a citizen of this province.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A to Z Election Tale

Once upon a time, in a province called Ontario, a man named Dalton McGuinty wanted to become premier so badly that he made many promises. He said he would not raise taxes. He promised to close the dirty coal-burning plants. He would help autistic children, relieve gridlock problems and help immigrants have their qualifications recognized in Canada.

Here is the A to Z story of what happened when this man gained power.

A is for the autistic children.

Once elected McGuinty failed to provide the funding he had promised during his election campaign. If that wasn't enough, he then fought the parents in court. Twice. One member of parliament tried to find out how much public money was spent on the court case, but the Attorney General refused to say. He used public funds, but then said the public did not have the right to know how much the legal action cost.
B is for broken promises.
Fifty to be precise. Once in power McGuinty abandoned his list of promises, passing the blame off on the previous government. But there was a problem with his claim, because when he found a large surplus just before the next election he didn't use it to make good on any of his previous promises. No. McGuinty used the money to try to buy votes with new promises.
C is for the dirty coal plants that are still open.
McGuinty promised he would close coal-fired electricity plants by 2007. They are still burning, still polluting, while McGuinty pounds the campaign trail.
D is for the dogs that have been killed or sent to animal research.
The Attorney General said he would listen to the experts, but when every expert at the public hearings opposed the ban the Liberals pushed the law through. McGuinty and his party knew that passing the ban was going to hurt responsible dog owners and that it would result in the needless deaths of thousands of animals. They passed the law anyway.
E is for egotistical.
McGuinty broke promises, but expects voters to simply forgive him. He acts like the cat that's caught the canary, pleased with himself for getting away with his unacceptable behaviour.
F is for fear mongering.
How do you distract the public away from your long list of broken promises? Why not say you are going to ban things. Ban sushi, t-shirts, smoking in designated smoking rooms, dogs … the list goes on. Then if people are busy being afraid, maybe they won't notice what a bad job you're doing of governing.
G is for giving grants with no openness or accountability.
Under McGuinty's leadership the Liberals were sharply criticized by Ontario's Auditor General for the way they doled out over $32 million dollars in grants to multicultural organizations. The catch was that you had to know someone to get a chance to get funded, which left many organizations in the dark. The Ontario Cricket Association did well, however. They asked the province for $150,000 and got a clean $1 million dollar - 666% more than they'd asked for. So the OCA has $500,000 left over in an interest-earning GIC.
H is for the health tax hike.
McGuinty promised not to raise taxes, but almost as soon as he was elected he introduced a $2.8 billion dollar tax hike. When McGuinty found a $2.3 billion dollar surplus did he do the right thing and eliminate or at least start to phase out the hated tax? No. It was election time again, so he gave away our tax dollars in the hope that he would be re-elected.
I is for the immigrants who were betrayed.
McGuinty promised he would eliminate barriers to foreign trade professionals within one year. He also committed to see that qualified immigrants would be accepted by trades and professions within one year. These are just two more broken promises, with qualified immigrants left in low-paying jobs.
J is for the lack of justice in our province.
McGuinty's Attorney General appeared on television when a newspaper boy was bitten by an alleged "pit bull" and needed a few stitches. Yet when a young woman was gunned down, murdered, while shopping on Boxing Day where was the outrage or even just a public appearance from the same Attorney General? The McGuinty Liberals made one thing clear. Public safety was very important to them if it centred around an issue that makes people mad, like letting Karla Homolka free or banning dogs that have a bad rep. Too bad about all those other people who needed their attention, like the citizens who have been shot, stabbed or swarmed.
K is for not keeping his word.
McGuinty must have missed the lessons on honest, integrity and keeping your promises that most of us learned in Kindergarten.
L is for the lack of consultation.
Instead of working with concerned interest groups, McGuinty's government shut them out and simply pushed through legislation. It was his-way or the highway.
M is for the multicultural grants given to groups with strong Liberal ties.
One organization in Richmond Hill was too new to qualify for a grant under normal programs. There is no written record of a grant application, but somehow they got $200,000 to build a community centre. Since they don't have land yet that money now sits in the group's bank account. After getting the grant two board members moved on in their career. One became the local Liberal candidate while the other became the president of the local Liberal riding association.
N is for the 8,000 nurses McGuinty failed to hire, despite his election promise.
Just one more way that McGuinty has let our healthcare system down.
O is for Ontario, which has suffered under McGuinty's rule.
Once the most prosperous province in Canada, last year Ontario ranked 10th out of 10 for its economic growth and our unemployment rate has moved consistently above the national average.
P is for protecting the innocent.
The powers of the justice system have failed to work on one of the most important issues facing our province, the murder of our children on the streets and even in their schools. This issue didn't play well in sound bites, so while the media covered it extensively, action from the McGuinty Liberals was virtually non-existent.
Q is for the questions that were pushed aside during the 2007 election campaign.
Like a skilled politician, McGuinty put his career ahead of the issues during the 2007 election campaign. He used the issue of faith based funding to pre-empt important discussions about healthcare, taxes, education, poverty and the environment. For the record McGuinty is totally opposed to faith based funding, which he sees as divisive. Incidentally, McGuinty's children go to a Catholic school, Ontario's only publicly funded faith based school.
R is for not reducing auto insurance as promised.
McGuinty said he would reduce auto rates by 10% within 90 days of elected. Did he? Of course not. Chalk it up to yet one more broken promise.
S is for not spending every penny of the new health tax on healthcare.
McGuinty said that he would spend every penny of the new health tax on healthcare. What really happened is that health care dollars went into general revenues and McGuinty went on to cut healthcare services, starting with eye exams, chiropractic treatment and physiotherapy.
T is for the tolls on the 407 highway.
During the election McGuinty promised to roll back tolls on the 407 highway. This, of course, did not happen.
U is for failing to unclog emergency rooms.
McGuinty promised that he would unclog emergency rooms. He failed to deliver and people like Patricia Vepari have died as a result. In February 2005 the 21-year-old engineering student in Kitchener-Waterloo decided to go home after waiting in an emergency room for 8 hours. She then died at home of her infection.
V is for the victims of crime.
McGuinty said he would provide legal rights for the victims of crime, but his Attorney General was too busy banning sushi, t-shirts and dogs to pay attention to those truly in need. So another promise bit the dust.
W is for the whipped votes, another broken election promise.
McGuinty said he would allow non-cabinet MPPs to criticize and vote against government legislation. As it turns out there was too much to criticize, so votes were whipped and McGuinty broke yet another promise.
X is for excruciating.
Which is exactly what another four years of the McGuinty Liberals would be like.
Y is for "yesterday's man".
The people of Ontario bought McGuinty's song and dance once. With the issue of faith-based schools now open to a free vote, McGuinty should be none other than yesterday's man in the October 10th election.
Z is for zero.
That's exactly how many more chances McGuinty and his Liberals should get when voters go to the poll on October 10, 2007.
Courtesy of Julie King