Monday, July 10, 2006



Since Peter Worthington mentioned me by name in his recent column about his dog being bitten by a pit bull (July 5) I felt it was important to respond.

I am sorry Mr. Worthington's dog was bitten.

I am sorry for the "pit bull" that had its leg bitten off by a husky.

I am very sorry for the man who was bitten by a Newfoundland dog when it went for his dog.

I am very, very sorry for the child whose face was ripped open by a Jack Russell terrier.

I am profoundly sorry for the child who spent two days in a coma after being attacked by a German Shepherd.

Do I think that any of those incidents were a result of the dog's breed? No.

Do I think that all of them were the result of irresponsible ownership? Yes.

Worthington and I share a concern: We want people to be responsible for their dogs' behaviour. Train, control, socialize. Where we diverge is on the issue of breed.

Contrary to Worthington's assertion, one person's experience does not constitute research.
Karen Delise is one person who has done sterling research into the issue of dog attacks, published in her fascinating book, Fatal Dog Attacks (2002, Anubis). Her research into over 30 years of dog attacks identified three factors that appear to play a critical role in the display of canine aggression towards humans. Breed is not one of them. The prime cause for the three factors is human -- the irresponsible owner.

But, for me, this isn't about dogs.


When Worthington writes, as he did in a column in May, "I think something is basically wrong with people who own these types of dogs," he disparages parents, doctors, nurses, lawyers, veterinarians, office workers, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and many, many others who are law-abiding dog owners, solely because of the shape of their dogs.

My greatest objection to the Ontario Liberals' unfounded, unjust and shoddy "pit bull ban" is that it makes responsible, law-abiding dog owners into second-class citizens based solely on the shape of property they own -- their dogs -- without any offence having been committed.
Any thinking person who reads the legislation (available online at and the evidence concerning Bill 132 presented to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly has to shudder.

All dog owners must read this legislation to be aware of the provisions that affect them, regardless of breed.

In their pursuit of this breed ban, the Ontario Liberals rejected many common-sense solutions to reduce dog bites and attacks -- promoting spaying/neutering, strict enforcement of leash and licensing laws, bite prevention education for children and adults, strict enforcement to reduce backyard breeding, stricter laws governing breeders and trainers, funding to municipalities for dangerous dog control, and a centralized dog bite registry.

Every dog has teeth. Any dog can bite.

No one wants to be bitten by any dog, regardless of breed.

The responsibility for preventing a dog bite rests solely with the dog's owner.

Any dog that is untrained, unsocialized, tethered, allowed to roam, neglected or abused has the potential to go one of two ways -- either to bite, or not.

Breed is irrelevant.

Thirty years ago, German Shepherd dogs were the demon breed. Then Dobermans. Then Rottweilers. Now "pit bulls."

Which breed will be next to be targeted by media hysteria and ambitious politicians for demonization and extermination?

Will your breed be next?

It is the owner's deed, not the dog's breed, which should be the subject of the law.

Not the shape of the dog.


Blogger Amstaffie said...

Well said.

Any dog can bite. When will people realize that?!?!

8:50 PM  

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