Guest post by Kim Walters, proud guardian to two great pit bulls, one of whom (Bruce, pictured below) is an Ontario refugee.
On August 29, 2005, the Ontario Dog Owners Liability Act (DOLA) was amended to include Bill 132, aka the ‘pit bull ban’. This amendment was approved despite overwhelming expert testimony against breed specific legislation (BSL), and once passed, it became illegal to own a pit bull, American Staffordshire Terrier, or dog that has “an appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to those dogs” in Ontario.
Pit bulls residing in Ontario prior to the ban were ‘grandfathered in’, but are required to be muzzled and leashed at all times. The only options for pit bulls not grandfathered are out-of-province adoption, a laboratory, or euthanasia.
To date, countless dogs have been euthanized due to the ban. Many of those dogs were not even ‘pit bulls’, since any medium-sized, short-haired dog in Ontario is at risk of being seized due to the “guilty until proven innocent” nature of this law (like boxer crosses, American Bulldogs and Labrador Retrievers). The onus of proving that a dog is not a pit bull lies with the owner of the dog.
In December 2011, PC MPP Randy Hillier, NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, and LIB MPP Kim Craitor introduced Bill 16, or Hershey’s Bill, which calls to repeal BSL in Ontario. The second reading of the Bill is on February 23rd. If Bill 16 doesn’t pass second reading or if the government doesn’t call it for third reading, BSL will continue in Ontario. So what can British Columbians do to support this incredibly important Bill?
- Sign the petition on Randy Hillier’s website.
- Write to Ontario MPPs and encourage them to support this Bill (a list of MPPs and their contact information can be found here). While it’s easy to get emotional about this issue, try to focus on the points that will compel MPPs to look past the media hype around pit bulls. For example,
- BSL has never been proven to be effective at decreasing bite rates or increasing public safety, anywhere.
- Include some points about real pit bull bite statistics and temperament testing.
- Point out that since the ban, bite rates in Ontario have actually increased!
- Draw attention to the huge cost to Ontario tax payers to enforce this law and to go through lengthy court battles with owners trying to get their dogs back.
- Talk about Calgary’s excellent animal control bylaws that target negligent owners as a better example of how to increase public safety and reduce bite rates – Calgary has the lowest bite rate per capita in Canada at zero cost to the tax payer, and they have no BSL!
- For more information and stats, visit the BSL section of HugABull’s resources page.
- Also write to Randy Hillier, Cheri DiNovo, and Kim Craitor to thank them for their efforts in tabling this Bill!
- If you have family members in Ontario, talk to them about the ban and what it means for them as citizens and tax payers. Do they know that the ban is province wide? Do they know that any stray dog that resembles a pit bull can be euthanized, no questions asked? Do they know that their lab mix could be at risk of being seized and euthanized if their neighbour decides they don’t like the dog and phones animal control to complain about their ‘pit bull’? In my experience, most Ontario residents have no idea that the ban is as severe as it is, or that it applies to the entire province.
- Encourage your Ontario friends and family to show their support and attend the rally to support this Bill on February 23rd, 11:30 to 2:30 at Queen’s Park. Details are here: http://supporthersheysbill.com/