Monday, March 26, 2007

Ont. pitbull ban upheld by court

TORONTO — The Ontario Superior court has upheld Ontario’s controversial pit bull ban legislation.

“We consider this to be a good day for public safety in Ontario,” Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant told reporters Friday.

“This is the first legislation of its kind, I would anticipate that it would now be copied in a number of jurisdictions across North America.”

The Dog Owner’s Liability Act bans Ontarians from acquiring pitbulls and says owners must neuter existing animals and ensure they’re leashed and muzzled in public.

Violators face a maximum penalty of $10,000 and six months in jail.

Ontario’s Liberal government introduced the ban following a series of horrific attacks that left people badly maimed.

The court did find fault with two provisions of the legislation.

In the first instance, it didn’t accept that pitbull terriers (as opposed to purebred pitbulls) be subject to the ban.

In the second, it said it wasn’t acceptable for bylaw enforcement officers going after violators to go to court armed only with a veterinarian’s signed document stating the animal involved is a pit bull. In the future, such expert testimony will have to be presented in person.

Caroline Wawzonek, a lawyer representing Toronto pitbull owner Catherine Cochrane, said the court decision will be appealed.

Cochrane’s constitutional challenge of the act was backed by the Dog Legislation Council of Canada, which represents a number of dog breeding and animal interest groups.

Prominent Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby, who led Cochrane’s legal team, argued in his presentation to the court last spring that the definition of pitbull in the provincial law is too vague.


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