On March 1st, 2005 they Liberals banned "pit bulls" in Ontario.
It is not just the ban that has us appalled. The blatent way in which the Attorney General has misled the public is deeply disturbing.
Over 45 major expert organizations spoke against the ban. Just 6 were animal rights activists or breeders.
However media reports misled the public by implying that the primary opponents of the ban were animal rights activists and breeders.
Few journalists reported the "anti-ban" side fairly. One of the worst offenders was Canadian Press (CP), whose stories run in several papers.
By day three of the hearings the government had heard that all the expert organizations -non profits with no financial interest in the issue - opposed the ban. Over 80% of those who presented opposed the ban.
Supporters of the ban used fear, personal experience, urban myths and media reports to back up their allegations. The experts used experience and scientific data.
At the beginning of the fourth day things became very surreal.
Before the hearings had even concluded and with all experts opposed to the ban in Bill 132 the Attorney General Michael Bryant announced that he was now more convinced than ever that the ban was needed.
Did he not listen to the experts - again? Did he ignore this testimony of a mother whose child had been killed by another breed?
"Please, let's not look at banning specific breeds of dogs. Let's look at banning the irresponsible, dangerous owners who either train their dogs to attack or don't train them in good behaviour. Put them in jail. Fine them as you would a drunk driver. Make our society aware that if their dog attacks, there will be serious consequences, not months and years of lawyers battling in the legal system. That's what happened to us and that's just not right."
Bryant heard that Husky-, Shepherd-, and Rottweiler type dogs are responsible for 65% of all Canadian fatalities over a 20 year periods. The breeds identified in Bill 132: less than 5%.
What is more qualitatively severe than a dog attack where a person is killed?
There are so many good reasons against this bill that we cannot include them all here. Here are some of the "killer" facts you probably did not hear in the mainstream media:
- There is a better option, the Calgary model. It solves every problem identified in Ontario including the concerns about police safety when dealing with criminals who own large, powerful dogs. To achieve the same bite reduction in Winnipeg as was seen in Calgary you would need to ban 58% of ALL DOGS. Calgary can intervene long before a first bite.
- In Winnipeg bites went up after the ban. Were the bites less severe? We'll let you decide - in 2003 a boy was killed by German Shepherds and last summer there were many vicious maulings by other breeds.
- One breed on the banned list, the Staffordshire Bull Terriers, have no known attacks on a person in Canada, are not much larger than a miniature poodle, are rated as one of the 10 best breeds for children by university researchers amd are not banned in Kitchener, England, France or Germany. Yet they are banned while many other breeds with severe attack records are not. This makes it clear that the decision to ban certain breeds was not based on proof of inherent danger.
- In the same time period where Michael Bryant cites 11 "pit bull" attacks there were 4,000 dog attacks from other breeds that required medical attention. How is it reasonsable to ban one type of dog when 95% of serious bites and fatalities result from other breeds and types of dogs?
In asking you to look at this as reasonable legislation the government is asking you to agree that 2+2=5. Welcome to BRAVE NEW ONTARIO CIRCA 1984.
This is all so arbitray that it is important to double check the "reasonableness" of this law, something David Zimmer, the MPP for Willowdale kept referring to. It is reasonable, Zimmer insists, to ask people to muzzle, leash and spay/neuter their dogs.
Is it reasonable to allow the police to enter your home without a warrant because you own a "pit bull" or dog that is thought to be an immenent danger to the community?
Is it reasonable to implement a "guilty until proven innocent" rule?
Is it reasonable to ignore the expert advice who overwhelmingly opposed the breed ban and then state that the government is more convinced than ever that the ban is reasonable?
Is it reasonable to write into law that a document signed by someone purporting to be a vet that identifies a dog as a "pit bull" can be used as evidence in a court of law with no recourse for the accused to determine whether the signature was valid or if, in fact, the person was actually a vet?
There is nothing reasonable about this law. We now look forward to the election in 2007 when this government will go.