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Ont. pit bull ban debate set to heat up as public hearings begin

Discussion in 'Laws & Legislation' started by Marty, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. Marty

    Marty Guest

    Toronto,ON, Canada -- -- Pit bull owners and those who say the breed should be banned are set to turn up the heat as public hearings into Ontario's proposed legislation to outlaw the dog begin Monday.

    The hearings come just three days after a four-year-old boy was attacked by three pit bulls in Ottawa while he was out for a skate. His 16-year-old brother came to his defence, fending off the dogs with a shovel.

    "The relentless, ferocious nature of that pit bull attack is all too typical of other pit bull attacks that we see time and time again," Michael Bryant, Ontario's attorney general, said in an interview from Ottawa.

    "Kids on skates, people walking their dogs, people in their backyards should be free - free from being concerned about being attacked by a pit bull."

    Bryant, who is spearheading the proposal, says the hearings into the bill are the most widespread public consultation involving a dog ban in Canada's history.

    Pit bull supporters and politicians alike have weighed in on the debate, saying Bryant's proposal unfairly targets responsible dog-owners and that it misses the key issue - preventing bites from all dogs.

    "If you'll pardon the expression, I think the Liberals have pooched another issue," said Conservative Leader John Tory in an interview. "A ban on pit bulls is going to leave us in a few weeks or a few months, when there's an incident involving a German shepherd, saying, 'Well, what are we going to be doing about that?"'

    Natalie Kemeny of Advocates for the Underdog, a pro-pit bull organization based in Windsor, Ont. - where a ban on the breed has been in place since October - says the bylaw has caused more problems than it's solved.

    She says more dogs have been euthanized in the wake of the bylaw while dog attacks from other breeds continue.

    "What's after this breed? There are other breeds that have posed problems in the public," she said. "In a year are we going to be speaking about other larger breeds?"

    Kemeny says more specific and tougher penalties should be given to irresponsible owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public.

    Louise Ellis, set to speak first Monday at the public hearing in Toronto, says the dogs are inherently vicious.

    "That's what they were bred for and you just can't unbreed that kind of stuff in an animal overnight," Ellis said.

    A pit bull mauled Ellis's five-year-old daughter, Lauren, 10 years ago while she was walking along a street. She required 300 stitches to her face.

    While pit bull owners say their dogs are being unjustly maligned, other concerns have arisen with Bryant's legislation, including the logistics of enforcing it.

    Breese Davies, a lawyer representing the Banned Aid Coalition, an umbrella group representing pit bull supporters, said kennelling costs in England have soared after a pit bull ban was legalized.

    She said London police costs mounted to more than $6 million Cdn in the law's first three years of existence.

    "It's a huge financial burden," Davies said, adding that municipal officials may be the ones who are given the responsibility of keeping the dogs off the streets.

    Hearings are scheduled for Toronto on Monday and Feb. 3, Barrie on Thursday and Brantford on Feb. 2.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2005

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