Four years after Ontario's ban on 'pit bulls', London, Ontario -- the provence's 5th largest city, continues to see a lot of concerns about 'pit bulls'.
"Over the last couple of years, the issues with pit bulls do not support the number of investigations," said City Environmental Director Jay Stanford. "But it's the fear of pit bulls that still with us."
The "fear" is something that was in many ways CREATED by Ontario's breed ban - it certainly isn't because they really are a major cause of th eproblem -- given that there hasn't been a pit bull related fatality in Canada in the past 50 years. However, the breed ban created fear, as have media reports like this one (how is it, exactly, that a case involving 2,234 ecstasy pills, hash oil, cocain, illegal weapons, a couple tied up in the basement and a sexual assault ends up with 'pit bull' in the headline?)
Of the city's 11,758 animal-related complaints in 2008, more than 2,000 of them were about 'pit bulls'. However, in many of the cases, the complaints were mistaken about the breed.
This is a common problem -- because residents have irrational fears of 'pit bulls', but can't identify them, they make calls about non-problem dogs, that aren't 'pit bulls', that tie up a lot of animal control resources. Yakima, WA is just one city that has struggled with this as well.
Another thing that is taking "significant workload" is keeping track of some of the 'pit bulls' when their owners move. Again, these are dogs that are not problems, but are taking up a lot of resources.
So do we think that the folks in London are "safer" because they are using a large amount of animal control resources -- way larger than the actual "problem" represented by 'pit bulls' -- enforcing the breed ban?
It should also be noted that Ontario's second largest city, Ottawa, has decided against enforcing the ban and as long as the dog is not a problem, they are leaving them alone -- noting that the law was too costly and difficult to enforce.
So this is two of Ontario's 5 largest cities that have admitted struggles enforcing the provencial breed ban -- one can only hope the MPPs are listening and use this information to strongly support Cheri DiNovo's recently introduced bill that would repeal the breed specific language in the Dog Owner's Liability Act.
For a bit more information about the bill --here is a new radio interview from out of Toronto that features DiNovo talking about the bill -- and includes Bill Bruce, from Calgary, talking about their success because they've focused all of their resources on educating owners on what really causes dog bites and only on dogs and dog owners that really represent problems in their city. (I owe someone a hat tip on this, but can't remember where I snagged it, so sorry).
It's time to focuse our resources on dogs that are actually problems, and put our irrational fears and the idea of breed specific legislation to rest.