Friday, August 25, 2006

Candlelight Vigil

I am broadcasting this to people who may have received it before, and others who haven't. There is a Candlelight Vigil on the south lawn of Queen's Park on Sunday, August 27th starting at 7 p.m. The vigil is to protest the Ontario Liberal government's breed specific legislation and mourn unoffending dogs that have been killed by this law, solely because of their shape.

For me, this law is not about the dogs. The Liberal politicians have not been forthright with the citizens of this province, they have not fully disclosed the implications of this law. This law makes responsible, law abiding people into second class citizens based on the property they own - their dogs. It is a travesty in a supposedly democratic society. If you sit by quietly while Canadian Charter rights are taken away from people based on the property they own, you cannot expect to keep your own Charter rights in the long run.

I'm including an excellent article written by a friend that summarizes the law and why it is so very wrong. Please come to Queen's Park, South Lawn on Sunday, August 27th, 2006 at 7 p.m. to let the government know that we will not go quietly into the good night, nor allow our rights to be whittled away for the sake of political ambition and sound bytes.

Yours, Dianne


On August 29, 2005, the Ontario Liberals' amendments to the Dog Owners' Liability Act became law in spite of overwhelming opposition by experts from across North America and the United Kingdom who testified voluntarily at their own expense. The Liberals preferred to listen to the handful of individually invited and funded pro-ban presenters at Committee hearings, not one of which is a credible expert on the subject.

Banned Aid challenged the law in Ontario Superior Court on May 15, 16 and 18 and awaits a ruling by Justice T Herman. We do not know when the ruling will be handed down.

Since last August 29, tens of thousands of Ontario dog owners have been living with the fear that their pets may be seized and put to death or sent to a research laboratory because of the draconian provisions in the legislation. There have been numerous cases of dogs being seized and held at pounds only because of their appearance. Court backlogs are growing. Dogs are not receiving adequate care. Dog owners are in a state of high anxiety. Law abiding citizens are now subject to:

1. Warrantless search and seizure within a residence based on a 'belief' by a police or animal control officer that a dog menaced, is menacing or may menace a person or domestic animal. This applies to a dog of ANY breed. A complaint by a neighbour is enough to initiate proceedings, including the warrantless search of a dwelling and the seizure of a dog using whatever force is deemed necessary. This can happen whether the dog owner is present or not, which is why many dog owners do not leave their dogs at home when they go to work - their neighbours have been whipped into a frenzy by the media and the government.

2. Warrantless search and seizure in public of a dog 'believed' to be a 'pit bull' (a nonexistent breed) whose owner is 'believed' to have violated the provisions of the act in the past. Provisions include muzzling, leashing and spaying or neutering of a dog who fits the 'substantially similar' category but due to a lack of publicity most people are unaware of what is actually contained in the legislation.

3. Reverse onus in a court hearing. The prosecution may accuse a dog owner of having a 'pit bull''. This has nothing to do with the behaviour of the dog, only its appearance. The onus is then on the owner to prove that the dog is not a 'pit bull', a nonexistent breed. In the case of unregistered or mixed breed dogs, the owner must prove the impossible in order to save their dog's life. There is no chance to receive a warning or pay a fine. The only penalty for a dog whose owner is convicted of ignoring the law is death.

4. Restrictions on mobility for dog owners of a vague type, ie, dogs with short coats, boxy heads and whip tails which may be (and have been) erroneously identified as 'pit bulls' by unqualified officials. Such dogs are prohibited from being imported into Ontario. Travellers (tourists, truckers and others) are prohibited from driving through Ontario with such a dog in their motor vehicle. Ontarians who own such dogs and are transferred to another province to work are prohibited from bringing their dogs back into Ontario with them after a three month period (think military).

5. Vagueness which makes it difficult for owners to know whether they are subject to the law or not. As this law is not being applied equally to all dog owners, many are confused as to whether their dog is a 'pit bull' (a nonexistent breed) under the legislation. This is partly because the two purebreds recognized in Canada, the Staffordshire Bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier, are very different in size and appearance. The American Pit Bull terrier is not recognized in Canada but is registered by the UKC and the ADBA - using two different standards.

There are an estimated three million dogs in Ontario. There are fewer than 30 AmStaffs, 800 Staffie Bulls and 200 American Pit Bull terriers in the province, ie, registered, purebred dogs. These are not the dogs that are running at large, being mistreated or biting people randomly. In fact, according to statistics (and as predicted by Banned Aid), dog bites have increased in many municipalities in Ontario. In Peterborough, for example, they are up 73% since the 'breed' ban went into effect.

This law is nothing more than scapegoating and playing to the gallery - it has nothing to do with controlling the incompetent or criminal dog owners who create dangerous dogs.

I posted a short excerpt from a ruling on my blog ( which eloquently explains why I find this law so repugnant and why I'm in this fight. Here is a link to the excerpt from Railway Express vs the State of New York:


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