Open Letter to Liberal MPPs
Dear Laurel Broten:
I fully respect the problem that the Liberal Government is trying to tackle with Bill 132. I support legislation that will eliminate dangerous dogs from our communities. However, I am absolutely opposed to breed specific legislation and I am horrified by the animal research components in this bill.
I am traditionally a Liberal voter. But if this legislation passes you have lost my vote. Forever.
Breed bans place the blame for dog attacks on the symptom (the dog) rather than the cause (the negligent owners and breeders). In doing this the government fails to address the real problem. Consider just a few statistics supplied by BC canine expert, Dr. Coren[i]:
Mongrel “pit bull” dogs have a problem in that they are the “flavour of the month” breed with irresponsible and criminal dog owners. However, if you consider that many of these dogs are either physically abused or punished harshly by their owners – and therefore should be six times more likely to bite - then one must wonder why are there not more “pit bulls” biting?
The “bad dogs” touted in the media are often victims of irresponsible or negligent homes. In spite of this there are examples of dogs like Popsicle[ii] who had a rough start and went on to make a wonderful contribution to our society. When police raided a drug dealer they found a sack in an abandoned freezer that moved when they picked it up. Inside they found a sick, malnourished and hypothermic puppy: Popsicle. Popsicle was rescued by the police, and went on to sniff out drugs as a star customs dog.
The fundamental problem with breed specific legislation is that there is no “breed apart”.
Not only did bites go up overall, but serious bites remained constant. In 2004 alone the media has reported 7 vicious incidents involving dogs in Winnipeg. Last year in the city a 3 year old boy was killed by German Shepherds. I don’t know who fed the Minister bad information, but Winnipeg is a terrible model to follow.
But there is a darker, horrifying element to Bill 132 that has been suppressed. That is the constant reference to animal research throughout the legislation.
The animal research clauses are highly disturbing. Under the revised law, animal research agencies would be the only entities that would legally be allowed to own “pit bulls”. (Shelters can own a “pit bull” for as long as it takes for them to fulfil their obligation to animal research facilities.)
The concept of seizing dogs and then either killing them or sending them to animal research is revolting.
Is this something you support? More importantly, are you ready to shoulder the consequences of this legislation when innocent dogs start being killed or tortured?
For the record, Popsicle is not an abnormal “pit bull”. The vast majority of these dogs are not just good dogs, they are great dogs. These dogs have a capacity for love that is unparallel in the canine world. They are the “Peteys” that you knew from the Little Rascals television show.
Some are actively involved in our community as service or therapy dogs. Others provide love in thousands upon thousands of homes in this province. An American Pit Bull Terrier did rescue work at the 911 site in New York. An American Pit Bull Terrier was a search and rescue dog in the space shuttle disaster.
Norton, who was rescued by Ann Matthews of Kitchener Ontario, saved his owners life when she had a bad reaction to a spider bite. When Ann collapsed Norton, who was shut in the bedroom, realized something was wrong and frantically woke Ann’s husband. By the time the paramedics arrived Ann had stopped breathing. She would be dead today if it weren’t for Norton. Before being rescued Norton was used by inhumane criminals for dog fighting.
Should dogs like these be eliminated? No. Will banning the “pit bull type” breeds stop vicious attack? No. Should you support the breed specific components of Bill 132? ABSOULTELY NOT!
Ontario does not need knee-jerk reactions. We need good legislation that will actually reduce dog bites. This is why the province must consider other solutions.
We have in this country the best example of animal control in the entire world. That is the Calgary example. Calgary was able to reduce bite by 70% in a very short time by implementing and enforcing strong but fair dog laws that apply to all dogs equally. What’s more, the Calgary example breaks even and does not cost the province any money!
There are good, viable solutions to Ontario’s dog bite problem, but they are not found in Bill 132. We already have the laws needed to address most problem dogs, but they are not enforced. The one place that Bill 132 could be strengthened would be to more precisely define dangerous behaviour and to provide a way that “bad” individuals could be identified and restricted. California provides a good model in this area.
[i] A Breed Gone Bad? By Dr. Stanley Coren, National Post, Nov. 9 2004