Letter from Dr. E. Day - Veterinarian
Letter to all MPP's addressed to Mr. Kormos who was addressing the house Nov. 4th/04
I have read your comments regarding Bill 132 and have submitted several emails previously to A.G. Michael Bryant's office via Liz Sandals of Guelph. Several of these emails have been published in the Guelph Mercury, Guelph Tribune and the Hamilton Spectator. I will sum up the emails I have sent, hoping this letter can reach you by November 4th.
My occupation as a veterinarian, dealing primarily with behavioural issues in dogs and cats has caused me to speak out against this bill. As an active member of the OVMA (Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, a licenced member of the CVO (College of Veterinarian's of Ontario), and the CVMA (Canadian Veterinary Medical Association), our consultation was turned down prior to legislation of Bill 132, by Attorney General, Michael Bryant.
It is my thought that any Bill being passed in Parliament is done not only because of a need, but with thorough investigation into what is being passed and its ramifications. Bill 132 has not been created in such a way. The lack of foresight with this Bill spells chaos. Mr Bryant, A. G. has at his disposal, the expert advise of many breeders, behaviourists, veterinarians, humane society workers and individual pet owners who can tell you that banning a breed is racist, prejudice and will cause the death of many innocent dogs.
I am not minimizing the issue that the raising of a Pit Bull or any breed of dog to be aggressive is not important. It is. What is important is, in the hands of the wrong person, any dog raised and encouraged to be aggressive is a lethal weapon. It is the irresponsible person raising these types of dogs, and breeding them that should be reprimanded. Is not owning a lethal weapon a criminal offence? How do we reach these people? We need to find those that breed and raise (in this case) Pit Bulls for their aggressive nature by shutting down puppy mils, micro chipping and neutering every dog so "bad" genetics can be eradicated, and to perhaps licence owners and make it mandatory that all puppies go through socialization classes.
The summmary of my emails is as follows. The intent in my emails has been educational in nature:
All dogs bite and all dogs are capable of biting because it is a natural instinct. When puppies are together in a litter, the needle sharp teeth serve a purpose by giving pups an idea of how much pressure they can apply with their jaws to another littermate. This gives them good manners in the "wild pack", when a bitch picks up her puppies by the scruff of the neck and when an alpha male exerts dominance by placing his muzzle over that of another dog's muzzle.
With humans, no pressure is acceptable and as puppies we divert this natural instinct to chew and bite to appropriate chew toys. This is called positive reinforcement of a natural behaviour so that puppies are not scolded for chewing. Puppies learn fast and by 10 - 12 weeks of age this behaviour is well diverted with proper training.
We must also socialize young puppies so they are not afraid of people, other dogs, or their environment. Fear accounts for 98% of all dog bites (spooking from behind, taking away food, loud noises, walking in a "dog's territory" are some examples). With young pups, if they are exposed to as many as life's circumstances that can be expected, these puppies will not be afraid of someone suddenly pulling on a tail (to keep a dog in the house or a curious toddler,for example), or be afraid of thunderstorms, or be aggressive towards food or territory (mail-person walking on "property").
Well behaved puppies grow into well behaved dogs. Dogs that are not fearful do not bite. Dogs that are well socialized are less likely to be aggressive even within their "own" territory or with food and their own possessions; therefore, will be far less likely to bite.
The above eliminates many dog bites. More dog bites can be eliminated by enforcing leash laws.
But how is banning a breed going to eliminate vicious dog attacks? Banning a breed will create havoc when it comes to identifying a breed and will not stop another breed from replacing it, if an aggressive dog is what an owner wants. Pit Bulls can be a violent force of frenzied attack if they have been encouraged to be aggressive. If they have been trained with live bait, the smell of blood even enhances their frenzy. The Pit Bull is strong and can do serious damage when aggression is their only learned and encouraged behaviour. Any breed of dog can be dangerous when aggression is their only learned and encouraged behaviour.
Banning a breed is like banning a certain kind of car (Ford) that causes an accident, when the driver or road conditions are to blame, not the car. In this comparison, the car is being compared to the Pit Bull. The handler of the Pit Bull is the driver of the car.
Where do we find these breeders who raise these types of dogs? They are difficult to find, because they are not registered breeders. Nor are they listed in "the canadian kennel club's, dogs in canada breeders guide." People who breed and raise dogs to be aggressive do so through illegal means, such as puppymills.
Banning a breed causes huge problems for good breeders, who have excellent dogs and sell them to good pet owners. It will even have a greater impact on the animal shelters. Where will all the Pit Bulls go? These are good dogs. Where can we send them? Are you, Attorney General, Michael Bryant, ready to give the death sentence to many innocent dogs?
By banning a breed, in the year 2004, we are going back in history and advocating prejudice and racism. If banning breeds is a solution to vicious dog attacks, then soon there will be no domestic dogs left. Why? All dogs are capable of biting. Owners will find other breeds to replace the Pit Bull.
Rather than ban a breed, legislate against aggressive dog owners. Reprimands are not tough enough. Remember, we are dealing with irresponsible people who own a lethal weapon.
Bill 132 cannot be passed in today's world. It is prejudice, racist and will cause the death of many innocent dogs.
Elizabeth A. Day, BSc.(Agr.) , D.V.M.