As a responsible dog owner of 2 large breed dogs, I was absolutely devasted by the death of Lennox, the 7 year dog and beloved family member, in Belfast, Ireland on July 11th. After almost 2 years of legal battles and amidst global outcry, the Belfast City Council ordered his death, simply because he looked like a pitbull breed. In Northern Ireland, pitbull type dogs are banned under Breed Specific Legislation. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which basically assumes guilt, or in this case violence, simply because of a breed is in no uncertain terms discrimination and does nothing more than condemn tens of thousands of dogs to death every year for no reason other than the way they look and rips families from their beloved family members. While BSL is often enacted after tragic circumstances involving dogs and people, the disturbing fact is that those that are truly responsible for the situations – people- are not held accountable. Irresponsible guardianship of animals is what should be the focus of these laws, not the breed, color, size or anything else of an animal. And while most BSL currently focuses on pitbull type dogs, many other breeds find themselves the targets. Dog owners of many large breeds can often find it hard to get housing and insurance among other things. BSL does not just affect families with pitbulls in them, it affects all families with dogs because at any time, the focus can shift to another breed as we have seen it do throughout recent history with Dobermans, Shepherds, Huskies, Rottweilers and many others. It needs to stop now!
More and more governments are finally understanding that BSL is expensive and ineffective. So much so that in the last few years (2009-2011) 169 cities in the United States have repealed their BSL measures and this year alone, already 21 more have done so including the entire state of Ohio.
It is time for the government of Ontario to stand up and lead the country by setting the example for responsible dog ownership. Responsible families should not be held accountable for what the few who abuse and neglect their duties as dog owners do. A new law in Georgia just went into effect on the 1st of July that is an excellent example of what Ontario can enact. What also makes this law particularly special is that it was crafted with the assistance of world-renowned dog behaviorist Victoria Stilwell. A summary of the law and the link to the law itself can be found at this site: http://www.animallaw.info/articles/aruswilkinsc2012.htm.
I hope this law and the accompanying signatures will persuade you that those you represent are tired of paying for the crimes of those that neglect and abuse their dog ownership duties. Please put an end to Ontario’s BSL and finally starting punishing those who are truly responsible by crafting new laws similar to Georgia's Responsible Ownership Law.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to Ontario leading the way to responsible pet ownership in Canada.