Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Doggone Laws

By: Selma Mulvey Burford, Ontario
February 5, 2008 09:42 PM

Dear Editor:Regarding an editorial questioning the priorities of those writing in support of Rambo, the mixed breed dog currently in the spotlight, I'd like to clarify.

Like many, the author of this piece has been distracted by a well crafted red herring, the pit bull, and has failed to grasp the implications of Ontario's dog ownership ban. In a recent Superior Court decision two key provisions were struck down. The matter is on its way to the Ontario Court of Appeals.

People must understand the reason The Dog Legislation Council of Canada and other groups in Banned Aid are taking this through the courts at great cost is because laws of this kind do not affect dogs. (These laws) aren't about dogs. They are about dog owners. Actually, the owners of any type of property are equally at risk, once a precedent has been set, as we have seen with the racing car Bill 232, which is very similar in approach — vague, subjective and discriminatory. In Ontario today, we have legislated discrimination, brought in on the back of a nonexistent breed of dog. Pit bull is a slang term for a group of breeds, unrelated lookalike breeds and a huge number of mongrels.

Here's what all dog owners in Ontario now face on a daily basis, regardless of the breed or mixed breed of their pets:
1. Warrantless entry into a private residence if a peace officer (which could even be a private citizen) believes a dog inside is threatening either a human or domestic animal;
2. Seizure of the dog, using whatever force is deemed necessary, whether the owner is present or not;
3. Unreasonable search and seizure if a dog is deemed to be exhibiting menacing behaviour, which is undefined in the law.

Presumed guilty, stigmatized, open to unreasonable search and seizure, unequal before the law, forced to prove the impossible, restricted in mobility, open to unconstitutional vagueness and trial unfairness — all of this and more has been legislated against dog owners for no good reason.

We are still waiting for evidence proving that 'pit bulls' are responsible for more bites, attacks or fatal maulings than other breeds and mixed breeds in Canada, let alone Ontario. Dog bite records, fatality records, hospital records, safety council statistics — none support this bizarre piece of legislation. Yes, we have had a handful of serious attacks in Ontario over the past 15 years or so by dogs identified as pit bulls. We have had many more serious attacks by other breeds and shapes during the same time period. Where's the hysteria?

As a Canadian, I consider it incumbent upon me to fight this type of discrimination. Laws like this should not even be considered, let alone enacted. It's time to fight for your rights, people, while you still have some left.


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