September 26, 2011
Dog Legislation Council of Canada
Dear Ms. Prothro and Colleagues:
Thank you very much for your letter and survey on behalf of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada. I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond. To answer your questions, I enlisted the help of our number one policy expert: our family dog, Mikki. Unfortunately, a squirrel got her attention and I am forced to answer on my own.
I am a firm believer in the rewards of pet ownership. Having Mikki in our lives ensures that Terri and I get out for regular walks and exercise. Her companionship helps us relax at the end of a stressful day. Simply put — our family adores her and we don’t know what we’d do without her.
As a pet owner, I also know that dog ownership is, first and foremost, a responsibility.
A few years ago, Ontario Liberals made the decision to restrict pit bulls. After a series of horrific accidents around the province, we decided that the interests of public safety would be best-served by restricting that particular breed.
At the same time, we also toughened the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public.
• Fines for offences under the Dog Owners’ Liability Act were increased to a maximum of $10,000 and allow for jail sentences of up to six months for people who allow any kind of dog to bite, attack or pose a menace to the safety of a person or domestic animal.
• Fines were increased up to a maximum of $60,000 for corporations owning such dogs.
• Also, judges can now order restitution to be paid in relation to an offence under the act.
Because of the new legislation, today there are fewer opportunities for serious pit bull attacks — ensuring that the people who are most vulnerable to these attacks are out of harm's way.
I believe we need to maintain our efforts, because the remaining restricted pit bulls continue to pose safety issues. For instance:
• April 13, 2011 — Ottawa — An un-muzzled pit bull tore out the throat of a threeyear-old Shih Tzu that was being walked by his teenaged owner.
• April 27, 2011 — Orillia — a pit bull attacked and killed a small dog outside an Orillia apartment building. The pit bull was wearing a muzzle that came off during the attack.
Our position is that repealing this legislation would be a step backwards. We understand these changes may have presented challenges for some dog owners, but we are confident that all Ontarians want what is in the best interests of public safety.
I want to thank you for taking the opportunity to write to me and appreciate the opportunity to answer your questions. Please accept my best wishes.
Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
Premier of Ontario