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Pit Bull Ban

See also some Newspaper Clippings on this issue.

posted September 16, 2004

One Person's Letter to the Attorney General

American Pit Bull

Dear Mr.Bryant,

The Toronto Star has published your e-mail address, asking for thoughts on your proposed pit bull ban. At our park there have been quite a few young men over the years who have had a pit bull as a status symbol. This has at the very least been disturbing, and sometimes much worse, for other park users. (See the incident reported in our park newsletter, from last year).

The year before that, there was a planned pit bull fight in the park in March that had been advertised at several schools, and therefore had a large audience.

In both of these park pit bull crises, the police were not able to respond quickly, and of course even in the attack this week as reported in the news, the police response came after there was already terrible damage done. Clearly, the police can't be on the spot instantly whenever a pit bull attacks.

Over the years I have spoken with many of these young pit bull owners (I work in our park), and most of them have taken steps to curb their dogs. However there are always new young men bringing new pit bulls, and so the atmosphere of menace can flare up at any time. Today I spoke to some of the folks who are part of the pit bull culture. They had all heard the radio reports. To my surprise, they seemed to be quite resigned to the possibility that pit bulls might become illegal, and not very bothered by it.

This made me wonder whether the pit bull situation is similar to that of the Boston Gun Project -- when the laws in Boston were toughened so that guns and gun battles became much harder for the young people, they did not lose face by abandoning their guns, and so the gun crisis abated. It's my impression that if pit bulls are outlawed in Toronto, or in Ontario--

  1. young persons in our neighbourhood who formerly flaunted a pit bull will obey
  2. the rest of the neighbourhood will be enthusiastic eyes and ears for enforcement
  3. your action to ban these dogs will have broad support</li>

Jutta Mason

Dufferin Grove Park

posted September 16, 2004

The Attorney General's Response

From: "Bryant, Michael J. (JUS)"
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2004 12:29 PM
Subject: Re: Pit Bulls

Thank you for your e-mail regarding a province-wide ban of pit bulls in Ontario.

The McGuinty government is concerned about community safety, in particular the danger pit bulls pose to people and their pets. Letters and media reports about pit bull attacks have raised questions about whether the province should consider banning these dogs.

Some legal protections are already in place. Municipalities already can ban pit bulls under the Municipal Act. For example, the City of Kitchener has a bylaw prohibiting residents from owning pit bulls.

In addition, a victim of a dog attack can sue the owner, and owners of dogs that attack individuals may be prosecuted under the Dog Owners' Liability Act.

The McGuinty government wants to know if further steps should be taken to keep our communities safe. That's why I've asked my Ministry officials to look into this issue, in particular whether a province-wide ban of pit bulls should be put in place. As you know, I want to hear the views of Ontarians.

Please be assured that your views will be taken into consideration in our review of this important matter.

Thank you for your input on this issue.

Michael Bryant
Attorney General of Ontario
Minister Responsible for Native Affairs
Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal

posted November 12, 2004

An anonymous letter: Another view of the pitbull story

I just feel anger that there are some of us who are respectable, law-abiding citizens who were encouraged to adopt a pit bull through Animal Services and granted, I am extremely happy that I have done so, but now am being accused of owning a "loaded weapon" or a "ticking time bomb".

Where is the safety in that? Why was I allowed to become attached to a "ticking time bomb" or to spend over $100 on adopting one 6 years ago? I would just like people to realize that yes, there are many young men who are using this breed in the wrong way. In fact they are using a dog, period, in the wrong way. I wish the law addressed this issue, not the issue of normal adults choosing to own these dogs. If some of these respectable citizens that are so pro-pit bull ban had actually bothered to visit the THS or TAS in the past 10 years and actually intended on adopting a dog in this way, they may have adopted a pit bull in the manner that I had, or others I know that go to Dufferin Grove. I always adopt dogs, I NEVER purchase them from breeders. That is just me. I want to help the pet over-population problem, not contribute to it. For the past decade, our shelters have had nothing but pit bulls and crosses. For this reason, I chose to adopt a full-on pit bull and am choosing to be damn proud. I would just like the support of others around me and am tired of being yelled at, asked to leave parks (when my dog is on-leash and by my side) and having people assume that even though I am dressed like a normal citizen, I must be a dredge of society, as I am walking a "loaded weapon".

posted January 15, 2005

Reflection on stereotyping

No dog owner should ever use a dog to intimidate anybody but the comment that "Some of them are friendlier than they look but everyone can use a hint if they unwittingly make people in the park uncomfortable" is a little offensive. Friendlier than they look . Try that statement in the context of any human being and see how it sounds.

"To my surprise, they seemed to be quite resigned to the possibility that pit bulls might become illegal, and not very bothered by it." Of course not they are the type of punks that will abandon their dogs. Others are extremely concerned as are owners of other large breeds such as myself. As much as your letter of support may encourage Michael Bryant the reality is that owners of all breeds are starting to understand that this is nothing more than a Liberal PR exercise.

This legislation is designed to capitalize on our fears - a loose pit or a pit in the hands of somebody needing to compensate for whatever else is lacking. The stories on your page also seem to suggest that the owners of your problem dogs are far from the most responsible owners out there - some even criminal. The reality is most pit bull owners and pit bull cross owners have good dogs. Can you honestly say that you have never meet a responsible pit bull owner with a well behaved dog? Why should this person leash and muzzle that dog for no other reason than it's siblings are the dogs of choice for morons. Dogs need to be controlled not chained and shackled. They also need socialization and if that needs to come on the end of a leash that's fine but through a muzzle?

Instead we need laws that protect us and our pets from irresponsible or criminal dog owners of all breeds. How can we even start to look at dog safety without reviewing the recommendations of the Coroner's inquest into the death of Courtney Trempe? Mr. Bryant doesn't feel it is necessary. While your park may have problems with pits in general the rest of Canada seems to have a problem with Rottweilers too in the wrong hands. If pits are banned and punks move onto Rottweilers (which really is the Winnipeg experience despite what Bryant would have us believe) you may find that the page can be recycled after a find and replace of pit bull to Rottweiler, Shepherd or any dog of the government's choice.

I own two pound puppies an English Pointer and a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. Visit and read the accounts of innocent dog owners being attacked by 'do gooders' who real feel they have the right to harass and attack owners of pit bulls - although they have no idea what a pit bull is. Why would I send you there? Because in the eyes of the uninformed a Rhodesian mix can look a lot like a pit bull - no make that what a lot of people think pit bulls look like. I love to hear my dogs are well behaved but I now dread the 'is that a pit' question and strangely they seem disappointed when I answer no.

You have a park that has many problems but overall acceptance of ethnic diversity isn't one of them - why allow stereotyping in any form to enter into it?

Anthony Riches

posted September 16, 2004

A poll finds most in favour of a ban

From Cnews on

Most back pit bull ban Six of 10 Ontarians want the breed of dog 'off the streets,' a provincial survey finds By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU CHIEF

A MAJORITY of Ontarians would support a ban on pit bulls, according to an SES poll obtained by Sun Media. Nik Nanos, president and CEO of SES Research, said Ontarians, horrified by recent reports of ferocious attacks, have very strong feelings about the controversial canine.


posted May 20, 2004

Pit Bull Attack

Early in the rainy evening on Sunday June 29, 2003, a man drinking beside the field house with his friends, and his two pit bulls, sat by while his dogs attacked an old arthritic dog that was just entering the park. Some dog walkers pulled the pit bulls off their victim, and their owner secured them on their leashes, but he seemed to be in an altered state, shouting and threatening. Police were called, but they were busy with the Pride parade and didn't come for a long time. More dog walkers arrived and stood at the far end of the soccer field hoping the police would come. Finally the pit bull owner got really angry. He denounced all white people and then he let go of his dogs. They ran toward one of the more recently arrived dog walkers and attacked his dog, Lloyd. Although Lloyd was normally a rather meek dog, when he saw the pit bulls coming toward him, he reared up on his hind legs and shielded his master. Lloyd got most of his ear bitten off, and his master, trying to ward off the dogs, got cut and scratched up badly. By that point all the porches adjacent to the park were full of people and they were all calling 911. One of the other dog walkers had to repeatedly hit the pit bulls on the head with a shovel to get them to let go of their victim. The police did come then, four cruisers strong, and the pit bulls' owner was arrested. Lloyd the dog, meantime, was taken to a night-time emergency dog clinic where his ear was re-attached. By morning, his owners had racked up a crippling veterinary bill of over $1000.

The police, when they took a statement from Lloyd's owner at the hospital as he was getting his own injuries looked after, said they had arrested the pit bull owner and charged him with assault with a weapon. So the pit bull owner will certainly be prohibited from going to the park as a condition of bail and again as a condition of sentencing. His dogs, meantime, are in quarantine, as a precaution.

By all accounts, the pit bull owner and his friends seem to be strangers to the park. It may be that they are the same group of occasional visitors who got into difficulty about a month ago when one of the group drank himself into unconsciousness near the field house, and an ambulance was called. In both cases the "friends" all vanished before police/ ambulance arrived. Young park regulars regard these visitors badly, and avoid them. It may be that it's time to make sure these folks don't come around here any more. If anyone sees a group behaving badly by the side of the field house, please alert the park staff (they're often in the park late now that it's summer). They will take steps to encourage any drinking group to find another place for their foolish business.

posted May 20, 2004

A reader responds:

I was reading your June [sic; July] issue, and I just wanted to tell you that you sounded ignorant. It doesn't matter what breed of dog, they all have equal capacity for harm, depending on the owner. A dog's bark is communication, not necessarily a threat. Pitbulls have a bad rap, thanks to the media and articles such as yours that instills fear in people. But don't stereotype them, it's basically racism in dogs, thanks for being part of the problem not part of the solution. By the way, you should be more concerned about the drug deals happening in Dufferin Park instead of dogs playing.


Jennifer Lementi

posted May 20, 2004

The writer replies:

Jennifer Lementi says I'm 'ignorant'. I'm sure she's absolutely right in general, but maybe a little off the mark in this particular instance of pit bulls.


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