July 31, 2006

"Pit bulls" and "animal rights" - HSUS in Florida

In the past, I have written various e-mails and articles, although not through this forum, about the under-the-table, behind-the-scenes, and sometimes not so subtle, attempts by Animal Rights organizations to influence politicians, lawmakers, and law enforcers. The results of this influence peddling (and meddling) include: breed bans; breed-specific legislation in general; mandatory spay/neuter (often aimed at specific breeds); and other methods of forcing an "animal rights" agenda on those who would prefer to remain concerned simply about "animal welfare".

I have talked about their success in San Francisco in renaming "owners" to "guardians", a huge semantic difference in terms of what former dog "owners" are allowed to do with what is no longer their "property".

I have talked about the recent SB-861 in California and how it can be used to gradually reduce dog ownership, breed by breed.

I have talked about Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, who has stated unequivocally that she approves of the complete elimination of the American Pit Bull Terrier and similar dogs.

I have quoted Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario, and have discussed, in detail, many sentences from his presentation to the Ontario committee hearings. His presentation could be called the "where is the humanity in that?" speech that, to the average listener or reader, provided a somewhat logical approach to the "problem" of overpopulation, bad breeding, bad owners, and bad dogs. I showed how his entire argument was riddled with an animal rights agenda whose ultimate objective was to end all dog ownership, starting with a few breeds. I also talked about how his only bite statistics for "pit bulls" came from an online Animal Rights magazine in Washington State called "Animal People", owned and run by a self-proclaimed "pit bull" and Rottweiler hater named Merritt Clifton.

I have mentioned that various Animal Rights organizations, including PETA and the inaptly named Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have provided behind-the-scenes advice to politicians and have provided evidence and advice to courts, all in favour of breed-specific legislation. This, despite HSUS's official public position against breed-specific legislation.

Now, I've been reading the excellent coverage by Kelley Benham of the St. Petersburg Times about the 139 pit bulls seized by Polk County Animal Control in Florida.

What do I find? Not once, but twice, in two different articles, up pops the HSUS as "experts". Are they, in either of these articles, taking a stance against dog fighting? Apparently not. How about animal abuse? Nope. Not a word. So what expertise did the HSUS provide to our esteemed journalist?

First, they expound on who owns "pit bulls" and the fact that there are too many of them. Second, they are called on to give "advice" to the Sheriff's office on what to do with the THREE WEEK OLD puppies that were confiscated as part of the raid and the NEWBORN puppies that were born at the shelter after the raid. Their solution? Kill them all.

Here are the two quotes from the two articles, each followed by my comments:

Quote from The Pit Bull Problem by Kelley Benham:

Pit bulls are overrepresented in dog bite statistics because they are overrepresented in the dog population, said Adam Goldfarb, an issues specialist with the Humane Society of the United States. "My personal opinion is they are the most popular dog in the history of the United States," he said. "They are the dog of choice for drug dealers, gang members and anyone else who wants a tough-looking dog."

Polk County Animal Control has adopted out pit bulls routinely, as long as they were friendly toward people and other animals. Everyone, from Sheriff Grady Judd on down, thought that breed-specific policies were a bad idea.
Note the comments from Mr. Goldfarb, the issues "specialist". Note the use of the word "overrepresented". That means "there are too many". Then, he marginalizes both the dogs and their owners by saying that they're the dog of choice for "drug dealers, gang members", etc. By using these two phrases, it then becomes okay to kill them, because first, there are too many and second, only bad people own them.

Quote from Kennel Trash by Kelley Benham:
A decision had been made about the puppies. Lt. Oakman had talked to Dr. Ertel, who had talked to the Humane Society of the United States, whose advice was straightforward: No fighting dog should be adopted out, at any age.

There were several reasons, beyond the potential for aggression. For one thing, shelters were so overcrowded with pit bulls that only the best of the breed should be adopted out. For another, there was a chance dogfighters would recognize their potential and try to adopt or steal them. Euthanasia, the Humane Society said, was the kindest option.

So that was the policy the shelter adopted.
So, despite the shelter's usual policy of adopting out friendly pit bulls, these particular dogs had to be killed because they were "fighting dogs". That's an interesting phrase, "fighting dogs". Remember, whatever I personally think about this owner, he has not been convicted of any charges AND the only dog-fighting charge laid was one of owning dog-fighting paraphernalia (a cat mill). So these dogs have been labelled as "fighting dogs", despite the fact that the prosecutors don't seem to have enough evidence to actually charge him with dog-fighting. But the dogs have to die anyway. And not only did they kill the dogs that may (or may not) have been actually fought, but also a mother and her newborn puppies, as well as dogs that were three weeks old when they were confiscated. The "kindest option" indeed.

Read the rest of this article

Killing dogs in Florida

Without a doubt, these articles from the St. Petersburg Times in Florida are some of the hardest I've ever had to read. It took me four tries and three cigarette breaks just to get through the one entitled "Kennel Trash".

WARNING: These are not easy to read or see, especially "Kennel Trash". Kudos to Kelley Benham (journalist) and Cherie Diez (photographer) for fine work:

  • The pit bull problem - a brief introduction to the case of 139 "pit bulls" seized and eventually destroyed by Polk County Animal Control

  • For the dog owner - the thoughts and defence of the man who bred and owned these dogs

  • Kennel Trash - inside Animal Control, from seizure to destruction

  • Photo Gallery - message from Mike Wilson, editor of the story, and photos - after listening to Mike's message, click Continue on the top right to view the pictures
I hate the man who did this, even if it turns out he wasn't fighting the dogs, as he claims.

I hate the laws that make us kill these dogs, even when the lawmakers are truly trying to protect the public.

I hate the lawmakers in places like Denver and the Ontario cities of Windsor, London, and Pembroke. The breed bans and insurance requirements of these cities have caused the deaths of far more dogs than this one incident in Florida, just one at a time instead of all at once. Most of the dogs killed in those cities were not rescued from abusive situations or seized from dogfighters, but were family pets whose owners could not (or would not) move out of the city.

I hate Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario, who sat in front of a committee hearing, on TV, and said that a ban on "pit bulls" is the most humane option, in order to avoid needless destruction. He should read these articles and see if he has the strength to stick a needle in a puppy while it licks his face.

I hate that we, as a society, find ourselves in a position of killing healthy, friendly dogs because of:
  • Dogfighting

  • Puppy mills

  • Animal abuse

  • Misinformation about aggression and dog bites

  • Blindness, pride, prejudice, and hatred

  • Profiling of dogs and their owners based on the actions of a few
And finally, I hate that I and many other law-abiding, responsible, accountable dog owners throughout North America, along with our dogs, have become targets of hatred and abuse because of people like:
  • Hewitt Grant (Florida) - the owner of these 139 dogs;

  • Michael Bryant and Dalton McGuinty (Ontario) and Kory Nelson (Denver) - politicians trying to build a public image by killing dogs and running roughshod over the constitutional rights of their owners;

  • Peter Worthington (Ontario), Andrew Krystal (Nova Scotia), and other so-called journalists who inflame the hatred towards us using old myths and stories blown far out of proportion to their reality, resultiing in things like: two young pit bulls being hanged near Seattle, a pit bull being shot in the head in Nova Scotia, a pit bull being poisoned north of Toronto, and, in the same city, bullets in a bag with the label "Prescription for Pit Bulls" written on it;

  • Newspaper and TV editors who give more space and time to stories about "pit bull" type dogs that have injured other dogs, even slightly, than this one about a three-year-old boy killed by husky crosses in Manitoba or this one about a two-year-old boy also killed by husky crosses also in Manitoba.

  • Irresponsible owners who encourage inappropriate behaviour in their dogs, whether deliberately or not;

  • Stupid owners who "never saw it coming";

Read the rest of this article

July 24, 2006

Toronto sticks it to responsible dog owners

When proposing the latest amendments to Toronto's dog licence fees, the authors of the proposal state that "The proposed revisions to the fee structure will continue to positively reward responsible pet owners that sterilize their animals." However, upon closer examination of this proposal, it appears that their decision to remove the incentive to microchip actually penalizes the most responsible dog owners in the city.

Here is Toronto's licence fee structure from two years ago:

Unaltered and unmicrochipped $50
Microchipped $25
Microchipped (senior citizen) $15
Altered $15
Altered (senior citizen) $10
Altered and microchipped (including senior citizens) $10

Here is their current fee structure, implemented mid-year 2005, that increased most fees by $10:

Unaltered and unmicrochipped $60 (+20%)
Microchipped $30 (+20%)
Microchipped (senior citizen) $25 (+67%)
Altered $25 (+67%)
Altered (senior citizen) $20 (+100%)
Altered and microchipped (including senior citizens) $20 (+100%)

Here is the proposed fee structure:

Unaltered $60
Unaltered (senior citizen) $30
Altered $25
Altered (senior citizen) $12.50

This includes a deliberate removal of any mention of microchipping. The authors state that "special categories for microchipping will be eliminated, however, Toronto Animal Services will continue to promote microchipping through its education programs".

So, the most irresponsible dog owner (unaltered and unmicrochipped) saw a 20% increase during the 2005 changes (from $50 to $60) and sees no increase in these proposed amendments, for a total increase over two years of 20%.

I, on the other hand, the most responsible dog owner (altered and microchipped), saw a 100% increase during the 2005 changes (from $10 to $20) and see an additional 25% increase this year (from $20 to $25). The total increase for me from two years ago is 150% (from $10 to $25).

And this is supposed to encourage responsible dog ownership?

It seems to me that the only real incentive here is to grow older so that you can get the senior citizen discount.

Read the rest of this article

July 21, 2006

Ontario could be worse than Denver

In response to Caveat's article pointing to Denver's breed specific ordinance, I decided to list all the cities within the province of Ontario that have their own, usually more restrictive, breed specific legislation.

Legal note: This article is an attempt to inform the public regarding certain instances of dog legislation found in Ontario. Legislation may be added, updated, or repealed. Wording may be changed without notice. Please do not rely on this document as your sole source of information. As a dog owner, it is solely your responsibility to obtain official copies of legislation from the city halls in the municipalities where you wish to visit or live.

Note that Windsor's bylaw is as bad as Denver's and, in some cases, worse. Windsor has been killing pit bulls at the same rate per capita as Denver, based on the comparative size of the cities.

Windsor and Powassan are the only Ontario cities, of the ones with breed-specific bylaws, that do not provide an option to remove an illegal dog from the city. Even Denver allows that. Windsor and Powassan require the destruction of any illegal dog, including puppies. Powassan requires the destruction of any dog whose owner fails to abide by their "restricted dog" laws.

Keep in mind that Ontario has province-wide breed specific legislation in the form of the Dog Owners' Liability Act and its Regulations. This legislation applies to everywhere in the province and only the more restrictive provisions of these city bylaws apply. The province's Animals for Research Act has specific provisions to allow for "pit bulls" to be sent to research facilities.

In addition, if an owner is convicted of any offence related to pit bulls, be it owning an illegal dog or owning a dog that is unsterilized, unmuzzled, or unleashed, Ontario requires the destruction of the dog. There is no option to remove it from the province. This includes the mandatory death of newborn puppies. These particular offences are not related at all to any dangerous behaviour on the part of the dog or its owner, only the physical attributes (the "look") of the dog.

At least Denver (in theory) allows for removal of the dogs from the city.


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the bylaw online

"Pit bull" same definition as Ontario

"Pit bull" is classified as a dangerous dog, so all dangerous dog provisions in the bylaw apply, with appropriate modifications.

- in house or in enclosed pen or in enclosed yard with minimum 6 ft fencing and locks
- in public, on collar-type leash 1 metre (3.28 feet) long, muzzled, and person 16 or older walking it
- microchip
- notification of change of address, change of ownership, or death of dog
- possible higher licence fees and penalties (separate appendix was not included online)
- no special "pit bull" licence
- no ban on "pit bulls" from out-of-town


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the bylaw online

"Pit bull" same definition as Ontario

"prohibited dog" means :
(a) a pit bull dog;
(b) a pit bull dog, previously designated as a restricted dog, that is kept or permitted to be kept by its owner in violation of the requirements for such dog;

"restricted dog" means a dog that is a pit bull and that has been registered by the owner with the City of Brantford andmaintains a valid municipal dog licence, issued under Article 6.

NOTE: This means you can't move to Brantford with a dog that is legal everywhere else in Ontario.

"pit bulls" that already have a muzzle order (prior to this bylaw) must be removed from the city.

"restricted pit bulls" must be:

- muzzled when not on property of its owner (no provision for friends' houses)
- under control of person at least 18 years old
- on leash not greater than 3 feet (province says 6 feet)
- if on owner's property, then in a building, wholly fenced yard, or pen
- sterilized
- microchipped
- insured for $1,000,000
- registered with the city

other requirements:

- warning sign on premises
- NO transfer of ownership EVER unless to owner outside of city
- notfication of death of dog or change of ownership

Any impounded pit bull must be killed or transferred to a research facility. This is technically more draconian than the Dog Owners' Liability Act.

Regardless of breed, dogs may be identified as potentially dangerous (has approached in an attacking or threatening manner) or dangerous (has already attacked or bitten). "Pit bulls" that have never shown any aggression towards any person or animal actually have more restrictions on them than a dog of another breed that has already bitten someone. Dangerous dogs that have already bitten are not required to have one million dollars liability insurance. Also, dangerous dogs, if found running loose, may be returned to their owners after payment of fines, unlike pit bulls, which must be killed or used for research.

206.2.1 Possession of more than 3 dogs $130.00
206.8.1 Failing to obtain dog licence $130.00
206.8.2 Failing to renew dog licence $130.00
206.2.5 Failing to remove dog excrement $130.00
206.9.1 Dog at large $130.00
206.8.7 Failing to affix tag to dog $130.00
206.8.7 Failing to ensure that tag remains affixed to dog $130.00
206.8.8 Unauthorized removal of dog tag $130.00
206.9.10 Fail to confine dog to a property $200.00
206.2.13 Fail to comply with direction to muzzle $300.00

Township of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal

Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the bylaw online

The following "breeds" are prohibited in any village, former village, or hamlet in the township of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal:

Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Pit Bull, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or any dog of mixed breeding which includes any of the aforementioned breeds.

There appears to be no provision for existing dogs. This bylaw was created on June 17, 2002.


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the bylaw online

Exempts CKC/AKC registered American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

"restricted dog"means a dog that is a Pit Bull dog forwhich the owner has a valid 1996 or 1997 City dog licence.

NOTE: This means you can't move to Kitchener-Waterloo with a dog that is legal everywhere else in Ontario. I'm not sure how Kitchener intends to handle AKC or CKC registered American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, dogs that used to be perfectly legal in that city. Obviously, many of those dogs won't have valid 1996 or 1997 city dog licences. I guess they're going to have to go on a licensing blitz to register all these new restricted dogs, which were doing just fine there until the new Ontario law.

A restricted dog licence shall be obtained from the Kitchener-Waterloo and North Waterloo Humane Society, 250 Riverbend Drive, Kitchener. The owner applicant shall attend with the restricted dog and the leash and any muzzle required pursuant to this Chapter, a designating notice hereunder, or a confirmed designation hereunder.

Owner must:

a) keep the dog within the owner's dwelling; or
b) keep the dog in a secure enclosure with top and sides; or
c) allow the dog in a secure yard if it has completed a Canine Good Citizen test in 1997;

The city may require an owner of a restricted dog to keep the dog caged, penned, or under the control of a person over sixteen years old if children under 14 years old are in the dwelling.

Other requirements:

- muzzle/leash
- address change notification
- ownership change notification
- death of dog notification
- warning sign on premises
- sterilization
- destruction or removal of puppies within six weeks of birth
- destruction or removal of prohibited dogs

Sterilized Dog Licence Fee: $15 to $45 (based on date)
Unsterilized Dog Licence Fee: $30 to $60 (based on date)

Sterilized restricted dogs: $15 to $45 (based on date)
Unsterilized restricted dogs with no CGN: $75 to $150 (based on date)
Unsterilized restricted dogs with CGN: $30 to $60 (based on date)

Laurentian Township

Laurentian Township is located just southwest of Pembroke (see Pembroke for map).

Click here to read the bylaw online

“GRANDFATHERED PIT BULL DOG” shall mean a defined pit bull dog for which a valid pit bull dog licence was issued by the animal control officer and was either born in Ontario between August 29th, 2005 and November 26th, 2005, or owned by a resident of Ontario on August 29th, 2005.

NOTE: This means you can't move to Laurentian Township with a dog that is legal everywhere else in Ontario.

“PIT BULL DOG” means a dog that:
(i) is of the Pit Bull Terrier breed, or
(ii) is of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed, or
(iii) is of the American Staffordshire Terrier breed, or
(iv) is of the American Pit Bull Terrier breed, or
(v) has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to those of dogs referred to any of clauses A) to D), having regard to the breed standards established for American Staffordshire Bull Terriers or American Pit Terriers by the Canadian Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, American Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association.

Required from owner:
- "grandfathered pit bull" licence prior to Dec 31, 2005;
- must apply in person with dog;
- description of dog;
- signed and sworn statement;
- photograph taken by Animal Control Officer;
- sterilized;
- immunized for rabies;
- microchipped;
- insured for $1,000,000;
- notification of death of dog or change of ownership;
- notification of change of address;
- transfer to new owner is allowed;
- dog tag with words "Laurentian Valley Pit Bull";
- lost tag requires new licence (i.e., repayment of fees);
- muzzle/leash when off property or exiting from a vehicle;
- remove or destroy illegal pit bulls

- entry/seizure without warrant specifically allowed;
- by-law can be enforced by all Township employees;

- Initial Pit Bull Application and Licence $75.00
- Renewal $50.00
- Transfer $25.00
- Other breed (sterilized) $15.00 to $25.00
- Other breed (unsterilized) $20.00 to $30.00

- All offences related to pit bulls (including muzzle/leash/sterilize and illegal dog) $500.00
- Typical offences for other breeds $100.00 to $150.00


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the bylaw online

"Grandfathered Pit Bull Dog" means a Pit Bull Dog for which a valid Pit Bull Dog Licence was issued for 2006, and was either born in Ontario between August 29, 2005 and November 26, 2005, or owned by a resident of Ontario on August 29, 2005.

NOTE: This means you can't move to London with a dog that is legal everywhere else in Ontario.

Pit bull owners who are visiting the city with their dogs must register their dog with the city and pay a registration fee.

Owner must provide:

a) description of dog;
b) signed and witnessed statement that the dog was owned in Ontario before the ban;
c) current photograph of the dog;
d) evidence of sterilization;
e) evidence of rabies vaccination;
f) evidence of microchip;
g) application fee

Owner must re-apply for new licence if old tags lost ($75.00). Other breeds may simply have their tags replaced for $3.50.

Owner must:

- notify of address change;
- notify of death of dog;
- notify of change of ownershp;

Pit Bull Licence Renewal Fee: $50.00 to $75.00


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the city bylaw online

Grandfathered Pit Bull Dog shall mean a defined Pit Bull dog for which a valid Pit Bull Dog license was issued by the Animal Control Officer for the City of Pembroke and was either born in Ontario between August 29, 2005 and November 26, 2005, or owned by a resident of Ontario on August 29, 2005.

NOTE: This means you can't move to Pembroke with a dog that is legal everywhere else in Ontario.

Beginning January 01, 2006 no person shall own a Pit Bull dog that is not a Grandfathered Pit Bull dog. Every Pit Bull dog owner shall make application for a Pit Bull dog license prior to December 31, 2005. The Pit Bull dog owner shall schedule an appointment with the Animal Control Officer to allow the Animal Control Officer to review the application and view the Pit Bull dog. A mutually agreeable location for the viewing of the Pit Bull dog will be arranged with the owner of the pit bull. Only an owner of a valid Pit Bull dog license from the City of Pembroke for their Pit Bull dog will be considered to have a Grandfathered Pit Bull dog.

To get a Pit Bull Licence, an owner must:

a) provide a description of the dog;
b) provide a signed and sworn statement that the dog was owned in Ontario before the ban;
c) have an Animal Control Officer take a photograph of the dog;
d) sterilize the dog;
e) immunize for rabies;
f) microchip the dog;
g) pay the licence fee.

Owner must:

- notify of address change;
- notify of death of dog;
- notify of change of ownership;
- affix a tag saying "Pembroke Pit Bull" on the dog;
- re-apply for a new Pit Bull License if the tag is lost;
- muzzle and leash the dog inside a vehicle if anyone other than the owner's immediate family is in the vehicle;


- prohibited pit bulls must be destroyed or removed from the city;
- 10 days after notification to owner, Animal Control may seize the dog without a warrant;
- owner is responsible for all costs for destroying the dog (Saddam Hussen billed his victims' families for the bullets);

Pit Bull Licence Renewal Fee: $50.00
Regular Dog Licence Renewal (sterilized): $15.00 to $25.00
Regular Dog Licence Renewal (intact): $20.00 to $30.00


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the city bylaw online

Dangerous dog defined - Pitbulls, Rotweillers or any other kind of dog that has bitten a person or domestic animal. (The spelling errors are theirs, not mine).

No person shall keep the following dogs within the limits of the Town of Petrolia: Pitbulls, Rotweillers or any dog that has bitten a person or domestic animal. (The spelling errors are theirs, not mine).

Petrolia does not seem to have any grandfathering provision, so I assume that any existing animals would have been forced to leave.

Every person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, forfeit and pay a penalty, not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), exclusive of cost, for each such offence, and every such penalty shall be recoverable under the Provincial Offences Act, all the provision of which shall apply except that the imprisonment may be for any term not exceeding six (6) months.

The total number of dogs owned by all of the persons comprising any one household within the limits of the municipality shall be restricted to two.

For the first dog in each household, the licence fee shall be $30.00. For each additional dog, the fee shall be $60.00. (only one additional dog is permitted).


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the bylaw online

Restricted dog shall mean; a dog that is a Pit Bull dog (same definition as Ontario).


i) spay/neuter;
ii) indoors or in a secure enclosure with top and sides;
iii) "restricted dog on premises" sign;
iv) million dollars liability insurance;

Requires the death of the dog upon conviction of the owner under Municipal Act or under the Dog Owners' Liability Act.


Sterilized Dog Licence: $10 to $15
Additional Sterilized Dog: $20 to $25
Unsterilized Dog Licence: $25 to $30
Additional Unsterilized Dog: $35 to $40
Restricted Dog Licence: $250

It appears that, in 2006, the city reduced the licence fee for "dangerous dogs" to be the same as regular dogs, in order to encourage registration of dangerous dogs. Based on the wording of the bylaw and of the amendment, I'm assuming that "dangerous dogs" includes "pit bulls".


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the bylaw online

"Aggressive Breed of Dog" means any dog of any age which can be identified as a dog of one or
more of the following breeds or mixed breeds by the Poundkeeper, namely:
i) Pit Bull Terrier;
ii) American Pit Bull Terrier;
iii) Pit Bull;
iv) or a dog of mixed breeding which includes the bloodline of the breeds referred to in
this section;
v) Staffordshire Bull Terrier except a Staffordshire Bull Terrier which is registered with
the American Kennel Club or the Canadian Kennel Club; or
vi) American Staffordshire Terrier, except an American Staffordshire Terrier which is
registered with the American Kennel Club or the Canadian Kennel Club.

I think Vauguan, like Kitchener-Waterloo, is going to get a little confused as to how to handle purebred CKC/AKC registered dogs.

"Aggressive Dogs" (i.e., pit bulls):
- must be microchipped
- must be in an enclosure if not inside the owner's building
- must be on leash under control of person at least 18 years old if not on owner's property
- any violation requires immediate removal of dog from city

Vicious dogs (that have already bitten or attacked, regardless of breed) are not allowed to be kept in the city if they get caught without a muzzle/leash or running at large or not restrained while on the owner's property. No mention of muzzling for "pit bull" dogs, only dogs of any breed that have already attacked or bitten.

Vicious or aggressive dog licence (including pit bulls): $50.00
Other dogs: $20/40/60 (first/second/third dogs)
Sterilized other dogs: $10/20/30


Click here to see where this city is located in Ontario

Click here to read the bylaw online

"Restricted Dog" means:
(i) A dog that is a Pit Bull dog; and
(ii) A dog for which the owner has a valid 2004 dog licence issued under Part I.

NOTE: This means you can't move to Windsor with a dog that is legal everywhere else in Ontario.

"Prohibited Dog" means:
(i) A Pit Bull dog which is not a restricted dog;
(ii) A Pit Bull dog, previously designated as a restricted dog, that is kept or permitted to be kept by its owner in violation of the requirements for such dog.

Owner of a restricted dog must:

a) obtain a restricted dog licence;
b) keep the dog within the owner's dwelling or in an enclosed pen with top and sides;
c) on a leash not exceeding 1.8 metres;
d) muzzle the dog when not kept according to clause (b);
e) microchip the dog;
f/g/h) notify City Licensing Unit of change of address, change of ownership, or death of dog;
i) advise Enforcement Unit if dog is running at large;
j) spay/neuter and surrender puppies for destruction ("disposed of in a humane manner");
k) "pit bull" warning sign on premises
l) one million dollars liability on the dog

Owner of a prohibited dog must surrender dog for destruction ("disposed of in a humane manner").


1st sterilized dog: $23.00
2nd sterilized dog: $25.00
1st intact dog: $38.00
2nd intact dog: $48.00
1st restricted dog: $137.00
2nd restricted dog: $165.00

Read the rest of this article

July 05, 2006

Peter Worthington: Master of the unresearched "fact"

In a previous post, I mused about the possibility that, in this May 18 column attacking "pit bulls" and their owners, Peter Worthington may have been guilty of defamatory libel and inciting or promoting hatred.

To avoid any repercussions to the dog-related organizations for which I volunteer, I decided to remove that post.

Yet, I cannot remain silent when Mr. Worthington is at it again, making blanket statements and seemingly authoritative pronouncements that have absolutely no basis in fact.

In his latest column, our esteemed journalist can't seem to understand even the most basic concept of research. A worrisome thought indeed, considering his status in the world of journalism.

Should this then be the new standard of journalistic integrity? Is this the pinnacle for which all should aim? God help us if it is.

Thomas Jefferson wrote "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers". After reading both of Mr. Worthington's articles, I'm starting to think Jefferson had a point.

I have written the following analysis of Worthington's latest piece for one reason: to show readers how, by using particular words and by making bold statements that few will question because they "seem to be logical", a journalist can draw a reader into believing in a general concept. Although this concept has already been scientifically invalidated and statistically disproved, it is easier to simply believe it because the journalist "said so" than to independently investigate that journalist's claims of "fact".

Below are quotes from Worthington's July 5 article, each followed by my own comments.

"It's just not right to have an animal that threatens other animals and children."

Who can argue with this statement? Of course, it's not right to have an animal that threatens other animals and children. That's why we have dog legislation, along with many other laws - to protect our property and our families. The problem with this statement, taken in this particular context, is that Worthington is insinuating that it's only pit bulls (or at least predominantly pit bulls) that threaten other animals and children. Not only is this a factually unsupported statement, it is blatantly false. Bite statistics from any city in this country do not support that view. Animals and children are threatened and bitten every day by many dogs of various breeds. Not only are pit bulls not the primary aggressor, they are not even on the radar compared to numerous other breeds when it comes to seriously injuring and killing children in this country.

"It wasn't flies I was concerned about, but kids and other small dogs."
Again, Worthington makes the same statement that kids and other animals are in danger from the dreaded "pit bull", without any facts or statistics to back up this claim. Forget, for the moment, that nobody can even tell what a "pit bull" is. Even if you could identify the dog, there is nothing in any city's record books to even remotely suggest that "pit bulls" are the main transgressor in this area.

"Well, stand by ... for some first hand 'research!'"
One incident does not constitute "research", ever.

"But pit bulls are dogs with big heads, huge jaws, fearless, and are dangerous to anything that irritates them."
Although Worthington doesn't actually come out and say it, the insinuation is that these big heads and huge jaws make these dogs more dangerous. This, despite scientific studies by American geneticists that show no difference in size or strength of "pit bull" jaws compared to other dogs of similar size. And anyone who says my dog is "fearless" should see her trembling in a thunderstorm! Temperament tests of thousands of dogs representing hundreds of breeds show that "pit bull" type dogs are, in fact, significantly more tolerant of irritations than most other breeds, including Golden Retrievers, poodles, and beagles.

"Even minimal research indicates their prime targets, when they go berserk, are small children and small dogs -- toy poodles, Lhasa Apsos and the like. Rarely does one hear of pit bulls attacking German shepherds, Rottweillers, Doberman pinschers."
I challenge Mr. Worthington to produce this "research". There is no research of which I'm aware that shows that "pit bull" type dogs attack small children or small dogs with any greater frequency for their population than other breeds of dogs. Small children and small dogs are definitely more at risk than adults or larger dogs, but they are at risk from all types of dogs. The very fact that they are smaller makes them susceptible to more serious injury, regardless of the breed of dog that is attacking. In other words, serious injuries to small children and small dogs are not unique to "pit bulls". In Canada, particularly, a child has a much greater risk of dying from a significant number of other breeds that are not of the "pit bull" family.

"The new tenants had a pit bull with the menacing name of 'Sniper' who frequently got loose and headed for our place. The owner was alarmingly indifferent."
Is the problem with the dog or is the problem with the owners? The owner named the dog. My dog's name is Star. Does this make her any more or less dangerous than Sniper, even though they're the same breed? The naming of this dog is indicative of the owner's attitude about his dog, but it has no bearing whatsoever on the innate temperament of the dog itself.

The dog frequently got loose and the owner was indifferent. This was an accident waiting to happen! Not because of the dog's breed, but because the owner clearly has no respect for others. The attitude of the owner will eventually show up in the dog's actions.

"Once we saw it swimming in Lake Ontario near our place and diving to the bottom and fetching rocks the size of bread loaves."
The size of bread loaves? What does this mean? How big, exactly, are bread loaves? What is the purpose of including this? Is it to show that "pit bulls" are somehow "superdogs" that can carry huge rocks in their mouths? Can they leap tall buildings in a single bound? Are they faster than a speeding bullet? I know a 10-year-old "pit bull" that has been diving for rocks for years. He has no teeth left because of this, but must still be muzzled (figure that one out). Before the ban, he was a therapy dog at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. I don't think the rocks he picked up were the size of bread loaves, but they must have been close. By the way, he's never bitten anyone, dog or human, in 10 years, despite all that practice with bread-loaf-sized rocks!

Unfortunately, the dog saw her, and immediately charged and attacked Murphy, bowling her over and ripping a chunk from her ribs.
Yes, this was a bite. No, it should not have been allowed to happen and, in a perfect world, the owner would have been responsible regarding his pet's actions and responsive to neighbour's prior complaints. Six stitches do not a "chunk" make! Six stitches constitute a two to three inch cut.

After half a dozen stitches, a sedated Murphy came home and Yvonne phoned Animal Control which knew all about the pit bull and its owner from past complaints.
Past complaints against the owner is something so common, it's almost a cliché. It is extremely rare to find an attacking dog incident that has not been preceded by multiple complaints to Animal Services from neighbours. Often, particularly in the case of adolescent dogs, we see that the dog is allowed to gradually increase its boldness and aggressiveness (i.e., to learn that certain behaviours produce desirable results). Despite neighbour complaints, if the dog is not controlled and contained, as well as trained, then its behaviour will become steadily worse until the day when the first bite occurs. If we're lucky, it's not serious, but rather serves as a wakeup call about that particular animal. If we're not lucky, someone gets hurt, sometimes badly. The issue here is not the breed of the dog. It's the nauseatingly common phrase, heard time and time again from friends and neighbours, "we complained about this dog and nothing was done".

A couple of animal control officers came out impressively fast to get details. Another, Jim, called the next day. They took photographs of Murphy's wound and said the pit bull would be seized the minute the owner could be found. Meanwhile the OPP were notified in Belleville and surrounding towns in case the owner and dog decided to go on the lam -- which was the case. By the time Animal Control arrived with a warrant to seize the dog, it and its handler were gone.
Police on a manhunt for what? A murderer? A rapist? A gangster? No, a dog owner whose dog caused a three-inch cut on another dog! Three Animal Control Officers. Multiple police officers. A warrant to seize the dog.

Don't be fooled. This has nothing to do with the seriousness of the bite (or lack thereof). It doesn't even have anything really to do with the dangerousness of the dog. It has to do with two things: The phrase "pit bull" and the fact that the victim dog's owner is an editor for the Toronto Sun. Do you think that, with exactly the same history of the dog and exactly the same actions and injuries, if the dog was a Labrador Retriever and Murphy's owner was not Peter Worthington, would we have three Animal Control Officers and a provincial police force looking for the attacking dog and its owner? Would there be a warrant to seize the dog? Would the owner face FIVE charges, as does the owner of this dog?

Ah, you say, but a Labrador Retriever wouldn't do this! March of this year. Port Colborne. Two Labrador Retrievers running loose in the town attacked and KILLED a Pomeranian, then proceeded to attack an on-leash pit bull. The dogs had killed another dog a year earlier and there had been multiple complaints about the dogs. Comments from the Welland District Animal Control manager indicated that the dogs would probably be returned to their owner with muzzle orders and fines. What a contrast, simply because of the breed! I know German Shepherds, Airedale Terriers, Wheaton Terriers, and many, many mixed breed dogs that have literally ripped into their victims with gusto.

The animal control people said while they took dog attacks seriously, ever since Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby started defending pit bull owners, convictions have become a lengthy process. It took four months to get a conviction of an owner whose pit bull bit a cop. During the interim, the dog has to be kept at taxpayers' expense, then euthanized.
This is a very interesting comment. The amended Dog Owners' Liability Act has nothing to do with the breed of the dog when it comes to prosecuting dog bite cases. It provides for fines and jail time for the owner of any dog, regardless of breed, if that dog bites, attacks, or even threatens a person or a domestic animal. So, it's hard for me to understand how Clayton Ruby's "defence of pit bull owners" (their words, not mine) can interfere with prosecuting a bite case.

There are two aspects to prosecuting a bite case involving a "pit bull" type dog. The first is, did the dog bite (or threaten)? This must be proved by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt, as in any other case of criminal prosecution. This has nothing to do with the breed of the dog, but focuses on the actions of the owner and the dog, as well as the owner's lack of prevention. The second issue is whether or not the dog is a "pit bull". This is primarily to determine the fate of the dog. If the owner is charged with owning an illegal pit bull or failing to muzzle/leash/sterilize it, then the identification of the dog becomes an impediment to conviction. But, this should not be a problem for a case involving biting. The law is very clear that no dog is allowed to bite, period. It is the insistence by Animal Control personnel in focusing on the "pit bull" aspect that is preventing the successful prosecution of owners of biting dogs. If they just focused on the bite and charged the owners with failing to prevent their DOG from biting, rather than trying to charge them with a bunch of "pit bull" related charges, they'd have a lot more success in their prosecutions.

Personally, I don't blame the dog. Like pedophiles, they simply can't resist attacking what they see as weak, defenceless, easy or vulnerable. It's just the way they are -- bred that way by people who've done the breed a disservice.
Pedophiles? Worthington must be just having fun with us now. He can't be serious, really. First, does he have any scientific evidence that pedophiles are "born that way"? This is his statement when comparing them to "pit bulls". "It's just the way they are", he says. From what I understand of psychology and pedophilia, the environment in which a person is raised has a huge effect on their actions in the future. "Abuse victims become abusers unless they can break the cycle" is a common refrain in the world of social and psychological assistance. So, Worthington's comparison of "pit bulls" to pedophiles, no matter how repulsive, actually supports the traditional anti-ban argument that "bad owners create bad dogs". And what about, in Toronto, the 99.95% of "pit bull" type dogs that caused no harm to anyone in 2004 (the last year for which we have statistics)? No, that percentage is not a misprint. Only 12 of 25,000 dogs caused even one stitch on a human being's body. If these dogs "can't resist attacking", then where are the thousands of victims? Where are the inevitable deaths and maimings? There are some, of course. Unfortunately, it's a fact of life that when human beings choose to live with animals, sometimes those animals act or react in dangerous ways. This includes horses, cows, and dogs. Horses and cows are actually more dangerous than all dogs put together, despite the fact that they have much less interaction with humans than dogs do.

Yesterday, they nabbed Sniper. "The OPP really pulled out all stops," said Garry Davis. "They knew the guy, visited his friends, and he just ran out of places to hide and turned himself and the dog into the OPP."
Again, back to an earlier comment. Do the OPP have nothing better to do than chase a dog that left a three-inch cut on another dog? What is the driving force behind this manhunt? Why this particular case? I ask again, is it because Peter Worthington owned the victim dog?

It turned out that the pit bull was registered to someone else, who has tentatively agreed that the dog should be euthanized.
The plot thickens! It wasn't even his dog or at least it wasn't registered to him. In that case, shouldn't the registered owner of the dog be charged as well? That's what the Dog Owners' Liability Act requires. Why was the dog not registered to this man? Is there more to this story than Worthington is telling us? Is there more to this owner? Perhaps he has had previous interactions with the police or maybe he had had previous issues regarding other dogs. If so, that would really go against Worthington's argument that the breed is the problem. So, maybe Peter has decided not to investigate this owner too closely. Maybe he is afraid to discover that the owner is really the problem.

Michael Laird is due in court on Friday to face five charges involving endangerment, mishandling the dog, improper care, etc. If convicted he'll likely be forbidden to ever own a pit bull type dog.
Interesting list of charges. None of these are charges under the Dog Owners' Liability Act. I also don't know to which law Worthington is referring when he says that the owner will likely be forbidden from ever owning a pit bull type dog. There is nothing in the Dog Owners' Liability Act that allows the judge to prevent someone from owning a specific breed of dog. The court may, in its discretion, forbid the owner from owning another dog for a specified period of time, but that refers to any dog, not a specific breed. I can't see how preventing this man from owning a pit bull type dog will protect the neighbourhood if he gets a different breed and manages it in the same way he did this one.

"I'm sorry about Murphy," said Davis, "but it was only a matter of time before that dog attacked a child, and that would have been tragic."
It's a shame that these words come from Garry Davis, an Animal Control Officer who we should assume has some expertise in dog behaviour, since that's his job. Mr. Davis should at least read a couple of books on problem dog behaviour or talk to some recognized experts before he equates attacks on humans with attacks on dogs. The vast majority of dog-on-child incidents occur within the family's home, a relative's home, or a neighbour's home and are predominantly driven by pack-related conflicts or by severe provocation on the part of the child (such as physical abuse of the dog). The vast majority of dog-on-dog aggression has to do with protecting the dog's pack and/or its territory from intruders.

One wonders why people want a dog that by law must be muzzled and leashed - something "Sniper" seems rarely to have endured.
First, most municipalities in this province require all dogs to be leashed outside their homes. A few have leash-free parks in which dogs are allowed to be off-leash while still under their owners' control, but this is not the norm. Second, most of us didn't choose dogs that have to be muzzled. We chose the dogs long before the government decided they were dangerous. Every day, often two or three times a day, these dogs managed to interact with people and other dogs without incident. Then, with the stroke of a pen, and against all expert advice, the government decided that they needed to be muzzled. Same dogs, same owners, same public interactions. But now, these dogs are something to be feared.

Hundreds of thousands of people in this country fall in love with a particular breed. When their dog dies, they often get another of the same breed, and they often choose to own multiple dogs of that breed. The various attributes of different types of dogs appeal to different people. We chose our breed because of its intense love of people and because of its trainability and stability. Though the government, acting against all scientific evidence, chooses to target these dogs and use them as a political stepping stone, that does not change the true nature of the vast majority of these dogs and it certainly does not quell the desire for true lovers of the breed to own them.

"Often people want them as a secondary defence against police," said Gary Davis. "They are owner-specific, unpredictable and often dangerous."
It may be true that some owners choose to use their dogs to protect them in their illegal activities. This is not a breed-specific issue, a fact that has been reiterated to others and me time and again by police officers throughout Ontario. Criminals, in trying to protect their drug and gun stashes, can and do use all sorts of deterrents, including dogs of many different types. A dog that is owned by a criminal and is "unpredictable and dangerous", regardless of its breed, has been encouraged to act this way and this behaviour is a result of that encouragement, a goal towards which a criminal deliberately aims with full knowledge of what type of dog he is intending to create.

Another question. Who identified this dog as a "pit bull", whatever that is? Was it Worthington himself? Or was it the Animal Control Officer who clearly has a bias against this particular type of dog? Based on Michael Bryant's lack of success in identifying an American Pit Bull Terrier, I wouldn't put too much stock in the accuracy of this identification when the people involved have already demonstrated that they have a clear bias against anything with a big head.

I'd love to get that Animal Control Officer on a witness stand and ask him if he's seen this type of damage done by any other breed of dog. Has he ever seen a severe bite to a child's face that was done by some other breed? Has he ever seen the results of a dog-on-dog attack that didn't involve a "pit bull" type of dog?

An unbiased journalist would ask those types of questions. An unbiased journalist, regardless of his own personal single-incident experience, would still try to present the truth, even if his own personal opinions keep trying to get in the way.

Mr. Worthington has allowed his personal bias to turn what would otherwise be a not-too-unusual dog-on-dog incident into "incontrovertible proof" that a breed ban is the only solution.

This is not journalism. This is propaganda. Worthington should take a step back and ask himself this question: If this was about anything other than "pit bulls", would he have allowed himself to write such inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and inflammatory garbage?

If the answer is no, then this piece should never have been published. It is a waste of the paper it was printed on and does nothing to help solve the problem of irresponsible dog owners.

If the answer is yes, then perhaps Mr. Worthington should take a hard look at what type of "journalist" he has become.

Read the rest of this article
The opinions expressed on this page and on this website are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of any organization for which the author may work or volunteer.
Permission to duplicate, forward, or crosspost text from this page is granted only if the duplicated, forwarded, or crossposted text credits this blog and includes a link to the original article (the URL at the bottom of each article).
© Copyright 2007 Steve Barker