When the residents of Ontario were first attempting to talk reason with the provincial government about managing dangerous dogs, virtually every expert in the fields of dog behaviour and bite prevention told the government to look at Calgary, an example of extraordinary successes.
Unfortunately, this government was so caught up in its "pit bull" mania that it chose not to see the ultimate "win-win" solution that was sitting right in front of it.
When various groups offered to pay ALL expenses for Bill Bruce, manager of Calgary's animal control department, to fly to Toronto and present his city's successes to the legislative committee, the Liberal members of that committee refused.
Yet, the government was more than willing to sit down face-to-face with Tim Dack, manager of Winnipeg's animal control department, to hear the praises of that city's breed-specific legislation, even though Winnipeg's annual number of bites did not go down for 10 years and finally decreased only when Winnipeg implemented Calgary's solutions.
Cities like Winnipeg, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Windsor, and provinces like Ontario, can only dream of reaching the bite reduction levels of Calgary, because they are not committed to the same ideals.
Although these cities and province have publicly stated a desire to reduce ALL dog bites, these measures were basically thrown in as afterthoughts, appeasements, when the only thing they really wanted was the "quick fix" of looking like they were doing something RIGHT NOW (i.e., the breed ban).
Yes, it takes some work and some initial seed money to start the Calgary method. But, it pays for itself quickly and just look at the results.
Their Summer 2007 Animal & Bylaw Services newsletter gives an astounding summary of the success of this program. I have included the full text of the article below.
The original link (in Adobe Acrobat PDF format) is:
Here's the text:
The Pawsitive Times
The City of Calgary Animal & Bylaw Services
Vol.7 Issue 2
ON THEIR BEST BEHAVIOUR
Reduction in aggressive dog incidents, despite city’s growth
With the ever-increasing human population in Calgary there’s also been tremendous growth in the canine population. It’s estimated that there are about 105,000 dogs in Calgary – one for every nine people in the city. Of these, more than 90,000 are currently licensed with The City of Calgary.
The good news is that despite the fact that there are more dogs in Calgary than ever before, aggressive dog incidents reported to The City have actually gone down by 56 per cent. From 2005 to 2006, the number of reported aggressive dog incidents dropped from 162 to 72. Biting incidents were also down by 21 per cent, with 199 reported incidents and chase/threats down nearly 30 per cent.
But this doesn’t mean that aggressive dogs are not still a concern to The City of Calgary. Even one dog bite is one too many. Victims of attacks are often left with both physical and emotional scars and, in rare cases in North America, people have been mauled to death by aggressive dogs.
The positive change is a direct result of The City of Calgary Animal & Bylaw Services making people more responsible for the actions of their pets,” explains Director Bill Bruce. “In March 2006, we introduced the Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO) Bylaw which has many new regulations to ensure that both people and pets can live in harmony. The key to the success of the new bylaw is public education. Getting our responsible pet ownership message out to the public always has been, and always will be, critical to the success of this or any other
In the new RPO Bylaw a number of fines were increased to reflect the severity of non-compliance. A new penalty structure which escalates with the level of aggression displayed by the dog was also introduced. The owners of a dog that bites someone face a fine of $350. The owners of a dog that attacks someone causing serious injury face a fine of $1,500.
The City delivers its message through a variety of public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives such as in-school presentations, attendance at various pet-related events and publications like Pawsitive Times.
Public relations efforts focus on teaching children how to be respectful of dogs, how to avoid dog bites and making people aware that aggression is not breed-specific. Any dog can bite, chase or threaten a person. The German Shepherd pictured here, for example, is a breed that has been both feared and revered. Yet this intelligent and loyal breed has a long history of service to people in everything from acting as guide dogs for the blind, to search and rescue and police work. The bottom line is that proper training and control of all dogs are critical to ensuring public safety.
The real key to the success of the RPO Bylaw is the citizens of Calgary. A large percentage of the city’s canine population is spayed or neutered. Owners of dogs and cats that are spayed or neutered save money by paying a lower licensing fee. The community benefits because, statistically speaking, altered pets are less likely to roam and fight, become aggressive and have unwanted offspring.
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