Thursday, January 24, 2008

Voices: Banning pit bulls

Jan 24, 2008 11:01 AM

Is the pit bull ban fair?

Here’s what you had to say:

Absolutely. These dogs are designed to be vicious. Yes, they are very loyal and lovable to their owners, but if they detect a threat, they can become killers. Someone on my street has one, and whenever they walk by with the dog, I am very careful to get my kids out of the way of the dog. I am not at all comfortable having that dog anywhere near my kids. Paul Gardiner, Mississauga

I am amazed at the percent of people that thing the ban is fair. I am willing to bet that most if not all of those people couldn't pick a pit bull out of a line-up of pictures. For once, it is nice to see the media focusing on the good owners of pit bulls, instead of the ones that earned these beautiful dogs their murderous reputation. Carla Cummins, Dresden

The ban is in place for a reason. Have we forgotten so soon that these dogs routinely maul and kill people and other dogs? All puppies are cute, but in the case of these dogs, they too often grow up to become savage, unpredictable and uncontrollable killers. How did this person get the illegal dog, anyway? Shaun Smith, Toronto

I totally agree with the ban. The breed is very unpredictable and a represents a threat to the public at large. With regards to the current situation, the owner of this puppy should have been aware of the law prohibiting ownership of the animal. These dogs seem to represent a certain bravado to some people. Before the law was passed there were groups of teens roaming the streets in my area with four or five of these dogs in tow. I think this bravado still lives on in this pet owner too - what does the name Rambo conjure up to most people: aggression? You don't hear of many Bijons with that name. Tony Youngfox, Brampton

The pit bull law is the most regressive piece of legislation I've seen in 20 years. Since when do Canadians judge anything as guilty before there is any kind of evidence of bad behaviour? Yes, the pit bull is an animal breed, but their reputation is based on the mishandling by a few bad owners who wish to make a point about how tough they are. Don't euthanize an innocent dog. Deborah Fenton, Kingston

To go after owners of pit bulls is a good idea in theory but not very practical. Pit bulls are the animal equivalent to handguns. Whenever I have seen a pit bull, they are always accompanied by the same macho low life personality whom are always on the look out for a confrontation. Giving these morons access to one more potentially violent tool is irresponsible Scott MacDougall, St. George’s

The province's pit bull ban does nothing to curb the problem of dangerous dogs. The people who are creating, abusing and training dangerous dogs of all breeds are those that should be targeted. The legislature needs to revisit this issue and put a law in place that actually addresses the problem of dangerous and vicious dogs: a law that targets the people responsible for this problem and not the innocent animals that are victims as much as the humans who suffer from dog attacks as well. Meredith Gardiner, London

The pit bull ban is not fair. The issue should be the behaviour of individual dogs. Only dogs that are dangerous should be affected. Many breeds are capable of having badly trained individual dogs. Unfit owners should be targeted. Louise Patenall, Ancaster

I believe the pit bull ban is fair. It is a breed of dog that cannot be trusted and will turn on their own master after years of having one. The facts have already presented themselves. I think that should say it all. Kelly Burnley, Pembroke, ON

Why anyone would want to own any breed of dog that is infamous for maiming and killing other animals and human beings is beyond my imagination. I wonder if it's a power trip for people who lack self-esteem and feel powerless in their own lives. Jo Sorrill, Whitby

The ban has always been ridiculous and cruel in my mind. I also have yet to meet anyone who feels it's justified. I had a Staffordshire for seven years. I adopted her when she was four years old. I sadly had to put her down four months ago due to age and illness. It was devastating - she was by far the most well behaved dog I have ever met, and everyone who met her would agree. They are sweet and loyal and loving and need to be in the right hands, as all dogs should be Kristina Achilles, Toronto

I think it is time that all rational human beings (animal lovers or not) realize that this particular ban on certain breed types does not effectively solve the problem. It is a scientific fact that an aggressive dog is an aggressive dog - period. A large role in the making of an aggressive dog is played by the owner. As long as we have insecure people who play out their "tough, macho" fantasies through their dogs, the problem will persist. Abhijit Banerjee, Pickering

The pit bull ban is ridiculous. It is bad owners, not bad animals we need to be looking at here. Animals follow instincts and need to be trained. The fact that there are idiots who (according to the article) "drop the leashes and run" tells us what we need to know about who should be receiving the punishment for bad dog behaviour. Once again, innocents are paying for our short sighted selfishness. Julie Stewart, Toronto

Pit bulls are not a natural breed. They were created by thoughtless people for one purpose, to fight to the death. One has to question why, with over 700 breeds of dogs and various cross breeds available, why we need legislation to force people not to adopt such an animal a family pet. Ross McLean, Ailsa Craig

Banning specific breeds of dogs seems asinine to me. Pit bulls tend to attract more attention than other dogs, but there are lots of other dogs that will attack people if not properly trained too. The problem is not with the breed, but with the owners not properly training their dogs. Training of dogs should be mandatory, and the dog should need to pass the training criteria. Brett Lounsbury, St. Catharines

No, I don't think it's fair. There's tons of info and stats I could quote to prove that point but I think I'll simply say: the owner makes the dog. An aggressive owner can train any dog to become aggressive and dangerous. A kind and caring owner makes a loving and friendly dog whether pit bull or not. As can be attested by the many beautiful and friendly and sweet pit bulls out there. So all the pit bull ban does is change which breed those aggressive owners are going to train into dangerous dogs. Ida Jagaric, Toronto

Who came up with the brilliant idea of wiping out a whole breed of dog because it's easier than chasing down bad pet owners? We treat many dog bites in the ER every year. Even before the big ban of 2005, pitbull bites were responsible for under 1% of all the dog bites in a year. I've listened to horror stories from victims and I believe the problem lies with irresponsible dog owners. Maybe we're licensing the wrong end of the dog/master union. Perhaps people should have to prove their ability to be a pet owner. It seems like dogs are getting a pretty bad rep in Ontario. Laura St. Hiliare, Lindsay

It's not a "stupid law". It's a sane law. And since it's come into affect there's been practically zero attacks on children and people by the pit bull breed. Don't try and cloud the facts councilman. American Stafffordshire is a breed. Because there's slight variations within the breed, doesn't mean the dog does not exist. It's a weak argument. The people who own these dogs have them for a specific purpose. Just like the people who own guns, it gives them a sense of power. This dog was bred to fight and that's part of their makeup. There's no way to get rid of that trait. Jack Rumney, Barrie

If the dog hasn't done anything then leave it alone. Make sure the dog is living in a loving home where proper training is provided for it. Dogs are not aggressive but owners are and they are the ones that need to correct this aggression as soon as it’s spotted in the puppy. Giancarlo Cordova, Toronto

I am appalled at this article - this puppy who needs socialization, love and attention to become a non violent member of society is being held in a cage for nothing more than because he is the 'wrong' breed. In fact, animal control is now contributing to making this animal into what they fear. Diane Whittington, Toronto

Our neighbour’s full-grown pit-bull got off its leash and attacked my wife and child while we sat at the picnic table in our front yard in Parkdale. I kept an axe by the front door because I feared such an incident and was able to keep the dog from striking a target. My son was six months old at the time. I want to thank the Ontario government for recognizing the threat and making our family safer. David Greig, Toronto

you rather wait until this dog is fully grown and mauls some two-year-old and disfigures them for life? Sure he looks cute now at 10 months but when he is and adult fully grown dog he'll be hell on four paws. My next concern is how was this dog conceived? The parents were supposed to be neutered by law quite a while ago. Ken Hall, Havelock ON

Dog's Life Hangs In Balance As Owner Battles Pit Bull Law In Court

Thursday January 24, 2008 Staff

It seems only appropriate that a dog named Rambo might be the one to topple or alter Ontario's controversial law banning pit bulls.

The 10-month-old puppy got away from his owner in Mississauga on Christmas Day and was wandering the streets unleashed and unmuzzled in direct violation of the law. Animal control experts collared the dog and took him into custody. Rambo's owner, Gabriela Nowakowska, was charged with owning a prohibited animal and the dog faced the prospect of being put down.

But the 20-year-old is refusing to take the edict lightly and is now challenging the interpretation of the law - arguing her dog isn't really a pit bull at all.

You may remember the controversy when the legislation was first introduced in 2005. Many critics insisted there was no way to tell what actually constituted a pit bull-type breed and warned there could be legal challenges. But after a series of highly publicized attacks involving dogs, the Liberals pushed it through anyway.

The law forced all canines deemed to be pit bulls to wear a muzzle in public and be properly restrained. They weren't allowed to run free and while owners were allowed to keep their existing pets, the edict made it clear any new puppies or dogs from the breed wouldn't be allowed into the province. If newcomers were found three months after the ban began in August 2005, the rules were clear: they would have to be euthanized.

Now Nowakowska intends to challenge the ban in court, with high stakes on both sides. If she wins, the law could be struck down or altered. If she loses, her dog will be killed. The owner is raising a war chest to help her in the looming battle with the legal system and is getting contributions from those opposed to the ban.

To win, she'll have to prove a negative - that her dog isn't a pit bull. For now, Rambo remains in limbo, in a cage and in the custody of officials in Mississauga. His life depends on the outcome of the case, which will be heard on February 29th.