TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR SHIRE
Please read the letter and newspaper article about Shire. Breed Specfic Laws condemn innocent dogs and their families. The hard times this dog has gone through all the while helping humans. It's time humans helped her. It's time for all to stop the stupidity and madness. It's time the politicians stop jumping on innocent animals and innocent responsible owners and go after the bad ones. If a politician can't or won't talk to the people, then he shouldn't be in office. These people represent ALL not just "their voters". Time they made laws that is right for EVERYONE. To put fear in a family because they were given the wrong information is HIS offices fault, not this family or SHIRE. If this office can't tell the truth then get out. It's time people took a stand and take back OUR rights as the GOVERNMENT. After all they are suppose to speak for us not dictate to us.
After speaking with this family, I also know that SHIRE has gone through more then the surgeries stated in this article.
May 3, 2006
Honourable Mayor David Morgan
Deputy Mayor Joyce Trafford
Nancy Whyte McCauley
Clerk Treasurer Dierdre McLatchy
Honourable Mayor and Council Members,
On April 4, 2006, the Dog Legislation Council of Canada (“DLCC”) was notified by the deWeerd family of Florenceville, New Brunswick that they had been served with a warrant of seizure for non-compliance with the Animal Control by-laws of the Town of Florenceville. The family was given only one option: to release their dog Shire for euthanasia.
The Dog Legislation Council of Canada is a Canada-wide not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible dog ownership, assisting provincial and municipal governments to develop effective licensing and enforcement legislation, and educating the public regarding dog bite prevention. The DLCC does not support any legislation that targets a breed instead of the real problem – the irresponsible owner.
The DLCC has been advised that since 2003, Florenceville, New Brunswick has banned two "groups" of dogs, the "pit bull" and the "Rotweiller"(sic).
The DLCC has reviewed your town’s municipal bylaws and prepared a written consultation on behalf of the deWeerd family, which has been submitted to their legal counsel.
It was through no fault of the deWeerd family that they found themselves in violation of your current animal control bylaws. There was no attempt on their part to deceive your community by falsifying their dog’s breed.
Ms. Deirdre McLatchy, in her role as the town clerk failed in her duties to inform this family of the existing by-laws. This official has stated for the record that she was unaware of an existing bylaw prohibiting any breed(s) of dogs. Had the deWeerd family been informed of the existing by laws, the deWeerds would not have moved into your community, nor would they have purchased a home that they have now been forced to put back on the market for sale.
This same town clerk provided false and misleading evidence in a statement to the local real estate agent who enquired on behalf of the deWeerds about any dog breed restrictions or bans prior to the purchase of their home. The deWeerd family acted on good faith that the information they received from the town clerk via the real estate agent was accurate.
On the afternoon of April 3, 2006, the Florenceville animal control officer came to the deWeerds' door to notify the deWeerd family of the by-law, and stated that a letter had been sent to them 10 days previously (which they had not received), when they had moved into their new home only three days before.
The deWeerds were offered the opportunity to attend a village council meeting on April 11th to make a case for letting their dog stay. Despite the fact that they presented several letters from Shire's previous veterinarians, trainers and other concerned friends who attested to her excellent behaviour and her use as a therapy dog to interact with children and adults with autism and Down’s syndrome, your council voted unanimously against letting Shire stay.
It is my understanding that during the town meeting on April 11, 2006, Mayor Morgan acknowledged the town's error and publicly verified that the information stated by Mr. deWeerd regarding the licensing of a prohibited breed was accurate.
On April 24th 2006, the animal control officer reappeared on their doorstep with a seizure order for Shire. At this time, this family was informed that the dog had ten days to be removed from the community; otherwise, Shire would be euthanized. The deWeerd family refused to accept the notice, in accordance with their lawyer’s advice.
After failing in the first official attempt to remove Shire from her home, the ACO revisited the home of the deWeerds on April 25, 2006, accompanied by an official of the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment.
The deWeerds were served with a writ for Shire to be removed from the home and euthanized.
The DLCC has made recommendations to the deWeerd family, should mediation between the Town of Florenceville and the deWeerds’ legal counsel fail to avert a court challenge. It is important that the dog-owning public in Canada and abroad be informed of your breed biased by-laws. Typically, responsible dog owners eschew communities that use breed specific legislation to deal with what is solely an issue of irresponsible dog ownership.
The media has already released news of the deWeerds’ treatment by your community. The DLCC has been approached to lead a boycott against your community and McCain's, which to our knowledge is your community’s largest employer.
Below you will find a brief summary of the DLCC’s position regarding breed specific legislation.
As an organization comprised of dog owners, professional breeders and trainers, veterinarians and members of the general public, the DLCC does not support the banning or restriction of specific breeds of dogs. There are a number of reasons why we do not support this approach. I will summarize them briefly here:
1. Breed identification is virtually impossible, especially identification of the "pit bull" type dog because it is NOT a breed, but rather a catch-all term for a dog of crossed or mixed breed heritage, often an unknown combination of breeds. Even DNA testing has not been proven capable of identifying a dog's breed. Visual identification is at best subjective, and has been proven time and time again to be inaccurate. There are web sites on the Internet dedicated to the "pick the pit bull" game, where photographs of various breeds of dogs are displayed and the viewer attempts to pick the "pit bull". Even seasoned dog professionals have had serious difficulty with these games, so you can imagine the difficulty that your average Animal Control or Law Enforcement officer will have and, even more so, the average victim of a dog bite who often is the sole identifier of the breed, since the dog is not available for scrutiny.
2. Many communities in the United States and countries such as Britain and Germany have found themselves mired in lawsuits challenging breed identification. Lawsuits have also been launched challenging statements such as "pit bulls are prone to aggression", "pit bulls bite harder than other dogs", and "pit bulls are born dangerous". Not only have many of these lawsuits been successful, but also the court costs to the communities involved have been astronomical. Hundreds of communities in the United States have repealed or rejected breed-specific legislation, based on cost figures alone. Many US states have made breed bans illegal on constitutional grounds. Britain and Germany have backed off from their original, incredibly strict breed-specific bans and are now allowing these dogs to be bred again.
3. Communities that have implemented breed-specific legislation have discovered that bite incidents in their communities did NOT go down. Rather, those irresponsible owners who may previously have been attracted to the muscular "pit bull" type dog because of its "tough" image and who tended to be the people that produced the badly bred, badly socialized, poorly trained animals that seemed to be causing the problem simply moved to another breed that was not banned, and the dog bites moved along with them. Again, many of the communities in the United States have recognized the "slippery slope" of banning one breed, then another, then another, and have now implemented non-breed-specific laws instead. Unfortunately, there are still countries like Italy who have chosen to go down that slippery slope and now have banned or restricted 93 different breeds, including the Corgi (the Queen's ankle-high herding dogs), the rough Collie (Lassie), and the Newfoundland dog.
4. Statistics initially used to support breed-specific legislation are extremely suspect, primarily for the reasons mentioned above. Given that identification of a breed is difficult, often impossible, statistics reporting bites by breed must be considered at best unreliable and probably just wrong
5. In addition to being arbitrary, inaccurate, expensive, and virtually unenforceable, breed-specific legislation does something else that is even more insidious. It lulls the public into believing that they will now be safe from serious dog bites. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Canada, there are approximately 480,000 dog bites per year. Of these, approximately 80,000 bites will require an emergency room visit with some sort of medical intervention. These could be considered serious bites. Since there is absolutely no reliable data indicating how many of these bites were inflicted by "pit bull" type dogs and since unscrupulous or irresponsible owners will just move to a different breed, there is absolutely NO concrete evidence that legislators will be able to reduce this number. In fact, by looking at communities and countries that have already tried breed specific legislation, we can see that the number does NOT reduce and, in some cases, actually goes up.
6. In the last thirty years, approximately thirty people have died from dog bites in Canada. These deaths are tragedies, and it is the deepest desire of every one of our members to ensure that the thirty-first death never happens. Over a dozen breeds have been responsible for deaths in Canada
7. For politicians, breed-specific legislation is an answer that will immediately satisfy the demands of an enraged and fearful public, but for the DLCC, an organization that dedicates itself to reducing the number of dog bites in this country, breed specific legislation is an approach based purely on emotion which has been proven to have no permanent effect on the number of bites in a municipality, a province or this country.
The DLCC supports the implementation and enforcement of zero-tolerance dog licensing, zero-tolerance leash laws, and heavy fines for non-compliance.
The DLCC supports financial and, in some cases, criminal repercussions for those owners whose dogs, when not in compliance with existing laws and without very real provocation, cause injury to a human being or to another animal.
The DLCC believes in significant repercussions, both financial and criminal, to dog owners who, in the opinion of a judge, could reasonably foresee the occurrence of an injury based on the previous behaviour of the dog or based on previous multiple infractions of existing laws. We also believe that people who have consistently and repeatedly proven themselves to be irresponsible dog owners should not be allowed to own a dog.
We suggest that, as soon as possible, the province and its communities implement the thirty-five recommendations from the coroner’s inquest into the death of eight-year-old Courtney Trempe of Stouffville, Ontario. We would be happy to provide you with a copy of these recommendations. We believe that only one has been implemented in the province to-date.
We suggest that, as soon as possible, the province and its communities implement the recommendations from the coroner’s inquest into the death of four-year-old James Waddell of New Brunswick.
We would be happy to provide you with a copy of these recommendations.
We suggest that, as soon as possible, the province and its communities implement the recommendations from the "Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention" report by the American Veterinary Medical Association's Task Force on Canine Aggression. We would be happy to provide you with a copy of these recommendations.
You also may not be aware that breed-specific legislation has been rejected by every major dog organization in North America. Each and every one of these organizations, most of which have boards and memberships filled with people whose lives have been dedicated to understanding dog behaviour, have publicly stated that they do NOT support breed-specific legislation and that they do NOT believe that it works.
Some of these organizations are:
· The Canadian Kennel Club;
· The Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers;
· The Dog Legislation Council of Canada;
· The Canada Safety Council;
· The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association;
· The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies;
· The National Companion Animal Coalition;
· The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals;
· The Pet Industry Advisory Council;
· The American Kennel Club;
· The Center for Disease Control; and,
· The American Veterinary Medical Association
It is the hope of the deWeerd family and the members of the DLCC that your council reconsiders its stand both on the use of breed specific legislation and in regards to allowing Shire to remain in Florenceville with her family.
We respectfully ask that your town work with responsible dog owners and not against them.
LeeAnn O'Reilly RN,PBMH
Pres. Dog Legislation Council of Canadapresident@doglegislationcouncilcanada.org www.doglegislationcouncilcanada.org
Used with the permission of LeeAnn O'Reilly
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