Saturday, February 21, 2009

Calgary sets a standard like no other

I'm pleased to see that our friends in Calgary continue to make terrific progress in the areas of preventing dog bites and educating owners as well as children and utility workers about dog bite prevention.

Here's the story from the Calgary Herald:

Calgary dog attacks fall to lowest level in 25 years

City a leader in reducing canine problems, says top bylaw officer

By Sean Myers, Calgary Herald February 21, 2009

Attacks by aggressive dogs are at the lowest level they've been in 25 years despite a steady population growth and the absence of breed-specific legislation brought in to tackle canine issues in other jurisdictions.
Despite the low numbers, Calgary's top bylaw officer plans to delve deeper into the causes of dog attacks to try to bring the incidents even lower.

The population of Calgary has more than doubled since Bill started working on his program.  The ongoing statistics are depicted graphically at this link.   The impound and kill stats also illustrate  the remarkable achievement by Calgary Animal Services.

The Ontario Liberals were told of Calgary's success and asked to invite Bill Bruce to present at the Committee Hearings in 2005.  Calgary was brought up throughout the hearings by various witnesses yet the government was reluctant to hear what Bill had to say.

I can only assume that's because they didn't want his remarks to be available through Hansard since one of their arguments in court has been that there is no alternative to their ill-considered approach to dog owner management.

Written presentations do not appear in the record so are therefore not available to the public.  In the second snip, watch David Zimmer (Lib - Willowdale and friend of the WSPA) dance around when asked to invite Mr Bruce to present at Committee.

This was rigged from the start just as Bryant and McGuinty's law is completely rigged against dog owners.

February 2:

I will again direct you to Calgary's approach. You received these many months back, and I'm sure you've received them in the course of all these presentations. Their forward thinking has worked for them for many years. Why can't it work here? Bill Bruce has even offered to help set up and teach their approach to us here in Ontario. They have approximately 90,000 licensed dogs in their city, and only five dogs deemed vicious. That's five dogs -- count `em on one hand -- deemed vicious. They are doing something right: zero tolerance for off-leash dogs and unlicensed dogs, and strict requirements and high fines for owners who have proved themselves incapable of being responsible dog owners.


January 24:

Mr. Miller: Mr. Chair, I have the director of animal and bylaw services for the city of Calgary, Mr. Bill Bruce, who would like to appear before the committee, but because he's employed by the city of Calgary and doesn't want to be seen to be interfering in the affairs of Ontario, he needs to be formally invited by the committee to be able to come before the committee. I would like the committee to invite him to come before it. He has significant experience in animal control. The city of Calgary has seen some significant reductions in animal bites. They've had a 70% reduction in dog bites since they brought in their animal control bylaws, and that has happened while the number of dogs in Calgary has doubled. Mr. Bill Bruce would certainly be a very valuable person to lend his experience to the committee, so I would move that the committee invite him to appear before us.
The Chair: Mr. Miller has moved that Mr. Bill Bruce, the director of animal and bylaw services for the city of Calgary, appear before the committee. Is there any discussion on the motion?
Mr. Zimmer: These matters were taken up by the subcommittee, were they not?
The Chair: They were.
Mr. Zimmer: There was a witness list.
The Chair: There was.
Mr. Zimmer: Presumably this was raised then.
The Chair: It was not.
Mr. Kormos: I don't know the background of how this gentleman was brought to Mr. Miller's attention, at least, but the fact is that here's a director of animal and bylaw services for the city of Calgary. Reference has been made already to the city of Winnipeg. I trust that other municipalities that have advocated -- and fairly enough, because they've implemented breed-specific bans -- will be called upon.
I don't know what the position is of this gentleman from Calgary, but it seems to me that if the committee is interested in getting the broadest range of information available to it -- gosh, we've got e-mails from people in other British colonies, Australia, Great Britain. People are well aware -- this has attracted attention internationally. If there's expertise available, why would we possibly shut the door on it? If these people are prepared to assist the committee, let's go; let her rip. Let's have these people in front of us. Quite frankly, whether they're from Calgary or not doesn't offend me. It's of even greater interest because obviously you've got a different provincial jurisdiction. I encourage people to support Mr. Miller's motion.
Mr. Miller: I would just like to support that by asking why we would not try to learn from the jurisdictions that have had the most success, and Calgary has had significant success. They've reduced dog bites by 70%. Here we have the director of animal and bylaw services willing to come before the committee, but he needs a formal invite to be able to come because he doesn't want to be seen to be interfering with the affairs of Ontario. They've had very significant success with an animal control bylaw that's not breed-specific, and I think we can learn from that.
If the end goal is to have the most successful legislation and to improve this legislation, I believe we should be inviting Mr. Bruce to come before this committee. I would ask for the committee's support in inviting Mr. Bruce to come and lend his expertise to the committee.
The Chair: Shall I now put the question?
Mr. Zimmer: This matter of the witness list should have been -- if you wanted to make arrangements to raise this matter, it should have been raised before the subcommittee. This committee has set aside four days for hearings. There is an extensive witness list for each of the four days. Each of the witnesses has been allocated a time frame of approximately 10 minutes. The difficulty now with entertaining last-minute changes to the witness list is, where do we fit them in, and if we say yes to Mr. Miller's request, what should we do with other requests that might come up from any other members on the committee? There has to be some end to the process.
Mr. Kormos: The issue seems to be the reluctance of this municipal official to make a submission to this committee without invitation. Why doesn't the committee invite him to make a written submission? Surely that can't be offensive to anybody. It doesn't occupy any time of the committee, but it --
Mr. Zimmer: I'm going to agree. I think that's a reasonable way to proceed.
Mr. Kormos: In that case, you can interrupt.
Mr. Zimmer: That way, we'll get the relevant evidence before the committee and we'll preserve the integrity of the witness list for the remaining four days.
The Chair: Mr. Kormos has the floor.
Mr. Kormos: But he needs an invitation to make a submission so that he doesn't --
Ms. Monique M. Smith (Nipissing): Written submission.
Mr. Kormos: Well, God bless.
Mr. Zimmer: Yes.
Mr. Kormos: That's what I said already -- so that he doesn't appear to be overriding his jurisdiction.
Mr. Zimmer: We're with you on this one, Mr. Kormos.
Mr. Kormos: You're on track now.
The Chair: Mr. Kormos, are you proposing an amendment to the motion?
Mr. Kormos: Mr. Miller may want to. I don't want to cut his grass.
Mr. Miller: I understand you're going to vote against this if we don't amend it. I'm getting that feeling. Is that correct? The thing is, you have more members on that side than we do on this side.
Mr. Zimmer: My argument here is that we've got a very tight witness list. It's been planned, 10 minutes per witness over four days, and it's unfair now to re-jig the witness list.
Mr. Kormos's proposal to accommodate this witness, or accommodate your wish to have him send in a written submission at our invitation, satisfies your purpose and preserves the integrity of the witness list.
Mr. McMeekin: I'll build on that. I suspect your political acumen is probably correct, Mr. Miller. I think the rationale for argument from this side is where do you draw the line? New Brunswick's looked at it. The provincial government in Australia has looked at breed bans. There are a number of cities. To have one isolated person in particular who has indicated a desire to make a presentation -- I don't normally speak to amendments before they're made, but I think on the surface, because we opened this up, there are at least a dozen people I'd like to see invited. I think the concept of the written brief, as Mr. Kormos has suggested and my colleague Mr. Zimmer has affirmed -- and hopefully you, sir, might look at -- is a good way to go.
Mr. Miller: I would certainly like to reiterate that I believe we can learn from Calgary's animal control bylaw; I would be prepared to modify my motion to invite Mr. Bill Bruce to make a written submission to this committee so that we may learn from the city of Calgary.
The Chair: Mr. Miller has amended his motion to read that Mr. Bill Bruce of the city of Calgary be invited to submit a written brief to the committee. Is there any further discussion? Shall I put the question?
All those in favour? Opposed?

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