Breed Specific Legislation

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On June 12 we will be having an election. Many dog lovers are hoping to vote in the person who will stand up and repeal the Breed Specific Legislation that bans pit bulls and those breeds that are similar in Ontario.

Under the current law even a dog that LOOKS like a pit bull and could be mistaken for one is at risk of being taken from its owner. “Unless the owner can prove that his dog is purebred and not related to the pit bull” that dog can be taken and euthanized.

Is this fair? I don’t believe so. There are many dogs, which when crossed with another dog, can easily resemble a pit bull. Boxers, bull dogs, bull terriers and many others often have that square-jawed, shorter snout that people associate with the pit bull breed.

Many other dogs have high bite rates and have killed humans.

Huskies, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds have all caused serious injuries to people. Not long ago in Alberta, the family husky killed a very young baby. Two huskies in Ontario severely mauled and attacked the next-door neighbor’s child in her backyard. The little girl knew the dogs and had played with them before. But huskies are not banned. Nor do I think they should be. ANY dog can bite , but that does not mean that any particular breed should be banned. It’s the individual dog, not the breed as a whole.

It should also be noted that most instances of Pit Bull attacks were committed by unaltered dogs. So spaying and neutering is a good idea, and also a responsible one.

Pit bulls used to be called “Nanny Dogs” because of their gentle attitude with small children. Ask anyone who owns a pit bull and they will tell you that they are the most gentle and devoted of canine companions.
When Michael Vick was arrested for his dog fighting ring, 46 dogs that had been used for fighting were taken in and rehabilitated. They were eventually adopted out to families who were eager to help the tormented animals.

I admit that with all the hype and media coverage on the evils of pit bulls, that I was wary of them. That changed when I was visiting my daughter at University in Alabama and I went with her to her friend’s house. The friends had a three year old Pit Bull named Emma whom they had rescued, and because of her sweet nature decided to adopt two more rescues of the same breed.
They were wonderful. They immediately came over to where I was sitting and sat at my feet in a semi-circle. I gave them a few treats and they snuggled against me, licking my face and begging for tummy rubs.

The second incident was when I was walking the beach one day out at camp, and a large white Pit bull came slowly walking toward me. Her owners were quick to yell out that she was friendly , so when we met, I put out my hand for her to sniff. She licked it, and then allowed me to pet and stroke her. The young couple told me that she had been a rescue and was the best dog either of them had had. She was a beauty and very loving. Ironically as I continued my walk down the beach, a German Short-haired Pointer came charging across the sand snarling and growling at me. If her owners had not grabbed his rope (which should have been attached to something!) he would have bitten me. Of that I have no doubt. Now I’m not saying that German Short Pointers are vicious, only that ANY dog can be. According to The American Canine Temperament Testing Society (ATT) Pit bulls are no more vicious than many other popular breeds. The American Canine Temperament Testing Society (ATT) rated pit bulls with a passing 83.9%, the 4th highest score out of 122 breeds. In fact these scores were equal or better than other dogs such as Beagles and Golden Retrievers

I believe that with good socialization, loving guidance and gentle care most dogs will grow up to be just fine. If you teach a dog to be a “guard dog” then you may have a problem with aggression issues. If you want a Pit Bull just to show the world how “tough” you are, expect to have problems.

Three days ago it was reported on CTV news that a pit bull bit a toddler who was left alone with the dog. I have to blame the child’s parents for this one. The dog came from friends of the couple. The dog had bitten their child, so this couple with the little girl decided to try and help them out by bringing their dog into their home. What were they thinking?? Would you allow any dog that had just recently bit a child to come into your home and be around your child?

In short I don’t believe in BSL. Why should a whole breed be punished for the crimes of a few? It is the owners that have the responsibility to see that their dog is trained properly, and to keep them under control, not to be let loose to run.

Hundreds of people in Ontario are bitten by dogs every year, but it seems we only hear about Pit bulls doing it. The media has put an unfair emphasis on the sins of the Pit bull, causing a lot of unnecessary fear. Every dog is different. Any dog can bite.
It all comes down to responsible ownership.

What is your opinion?

Karen Johns for saultonlione.com

4 COMMENTS

  1. I do not believe in the ban. I have a purebred PITTY and to tell you honestly, he is the most obedient, most loyal dog I have ever had. I have had other breeds of dogs in my lifetime, we used to breed jack russels, my parents had german shepherds, danes. But I totally agree Pitbulls are nanny dogs, My dog loves our little nieces that comes and visits us from Sudbury.

    One night our neice was sleeping and our Duke slept with her, she had a nightmare and started whimpering, that dog did not stop licking her face until she woke up. I was still awake that time and I saw everything. Also when kids play and there are other dogs breeds in the property, pitties always position themselves between the strange dog and the kids.

    I would say they should stop being so prejudice with the breed. They have done the same w German shephers, Dobermans, and what not. Just stop. Its how these dogs are socialized and trained.

    When I got my pitty I socialized him by bringing him to school, sitting outside the mall and let people pet him.

    BAD DOGS means BAD training. It’s all about the foundation we teach these dogs just like our children. Bad foundation = Hardheaded kids LOL

  2. I have to agree with the Author and commenter on this article. If a dog is raised properly and with kindness they will behave. If it is raised by some moron who likely abuses the animal, it will act the same way.

  3. I agree that BSL is simply BS. I have been around dogs my whole life, many of them pitbulls or pitbull type dogs (cannot prove actual breed so term pitbull used). Of all the dogs I have encountered, these dogs are the least concerning to me. It’s the small breeds that really make me nervous. Spaying/neutering is a practice that too many people sadly don’t follow and it’s true that altered dogs are less likely to develop aggressive tendencies and are less likely to run at large which is when most bites or attacks occur. Training and socialization are also crucial. Owners are just simply not responsible with their pets and it’s the animals that end up paying the price. I have a pitbull, she’s 10 years old, spayed and licenced therefore in compliance with the ban. She has never been at large a day in her life, because I’ve seen to it. And even if that were to happen, she wears her collar with her city tag all the time, so short of someone removing it, I know that I’ll be notified if she ever got picked up. I disagree entirely with BSL, but as reasonable person I can understand why it came about and it’s because people just aren’t responsible. If you are the owner of a banned dog that got picked up running loose then you have no one to blame because ultimately you failed that dog. If your dog was altered and licenced and accidentally got loose, because accidents can happen, then you will likely have your dog returned because you were responsible enough to do what you had to do. A responsible pet owner doesn’t make excuses like I couldn’t afford shots and neutering – if this is the case you shouldn’t have the pet. If you own a dog you are responsible for it and everything it does. If people weren’t irresponsible with pitbulls for so long then this ridiculous ban may have never come into play. All dogs can bite and the ones that do need to be dealt with, but punishing a breed or type isn’t the way to go about it. Punish the individual animal that commits an offence. I will always love dogs, and pitbulls will always have a special place in my heart because when handled and raised responsibly they are amazing animals. But on the same note, I feel no sympathy for the owners who lose their dogs because they weren’t responsible with them. I feel for the dogs who fall victim to this lack of responsibility and this senseless legislation. Hopefully soon things will change, but until they do, anyone who owns a dog that could be labelled a pitbull, do your dog a favour, comply with the restrictions! Get them fixed, get them licenced and make sure they don’t get loose! If they are at home where they belong and under control ( not biting or chasing the mailman or neighbours) they have nothing to worry about.

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