September 26, 2006

SEARCH & RESCUE dog not allowed in Ontario

An American recently visited Ontario to vacation and to train with his SEARCH & RESCUE American Pit Bull Terrier. This gentleman called Canada Customs prior to his visit and was assured that he could bring his dog into Ontario or vacation in Ontario with his dog as long as he complied with the leash and muzzle requirements.

This error by Canada Customs could have cost the life of his dog and he could have faced fines of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to six months.

After returning home and discussing the issue with Canadian dog owners, he wrote a letter to the Attorney General of Ontario, requesting clarification.

Here is an excerpt from the response from the Attorney General's office.

(Emphasis mine)

Dear Mr. X:

Thank you for your correspondence...

...

Except for some narrow exceptions allowing temporary entry for dog shows, importing pit bulls into Ontario is prohibited. Pit bulls not legally resident in Ontario prior to August 29, 2005, are subject to seizure. Individuals found to have imported a pit bull into Ontario will be in violation of the law and may be subject to fines and/or jail. There are no exceptions for tourists, including those simply passing through Ontario with their pit bulls. To be clear, it is this Ministry's view that individuals merely traveling through Ontario with pit bulls-even for short periods of time-would be in contravention of the DOLA.

The Ministry cannot provide opinions as to whether or not individual dogs are included in the definition of pit bull set out in DOLA. The legislation specifically indicates that a pit bull is (a) a pit bull terrier, (b) a Staffordshire bull terrier, (c) an American Staffordshire terrier, (d) an American pit bull terrier, (e) a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to those of dogs referred to in any of clauses (a) to (d). Section 1(2) of DOLA provides that when making determinations as to whether or not a dog is a pit bull within the meaning of DOLA, the courts will be able to have regard to the breed standards for Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers or American Pit Bull Terriers as established by the Canadian Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association.

Thank you for contacting the Ministry in regard to this issue.

Policy Division
Ministry of the Attorney General

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