Letter to Montréal city councillors

Dear Sir/Madam:

Three months after offering assistance and experience to Mayor Coderre in drafting an effective animal control bylaw, we find ourselves in the same position again – offering help and hoping for a reasonable and personal reply.

Toronto’s real dog bite data

Why the Toronto Star’s October 2014 editorial saying that Ontario’s “pit bull” ban has worked is not only misleading, but also uses statistics that are scientifically impossible to obtain with any accuracy.

I lost by 210 votes!

Just over a week ago, I received a marketing e-mail from a particular Ontario Liberal Party candidate. This particular e-mail was entitled “I lost by 210 votes”.

Where does your money go when you donate to HSUS?

According to its own 2011 tax return, of the $122 million in donations it received that year, The Humane Society of the United States gave less than ½ of 1 percent (.5%) to “hands on pet shelters” who were involved with the “daily care, adoption, and/or rehabilitation of dogs, cats, rabbits and horses”. On the other hand, 31% went to salaries and benefits. 42% went to marketing, advertising, fundraising, and lobbying.

Witch! Witch!

Earlier this year, I introduced someone to the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. When we got to the Witch scene, I was struck by the similarities between a “witch hunt” and a “pit bull hunt”.

Is my dog a “pit bull” in Ontario?

Today, a member of one of the Internet groups that I’m on asked if a certain mix of dog has to be muzzled in Ontario. Here’s my answer. I would like to say “to avoid confusion”, but unfortunately that wouldn’t be true.

Bad news from Florida

Discouraging news from Florida today. Looks like SB (Senate Bill) 1322,which would have repealed the Miami-Dade breed ban, has been stalled and perhaps even killed at the subcommittee level.

How a Private Member’s Bill becomes law

Randy Hillier, one of the sponsors of Bill 16, left a comment on my last blog entry that significantly increases my optimism about this bill’s potential to become law, so much so that I decided to write an updated article about it.

Unbelievable misuse of taxpayers’ money

I have to say, I cannot recall ever seeing a city do this before. The City of Brampton has taken out a full-page ad in their local newspaper in order to “defend” their employees’ actions in seizing two family pets and scheduling their destruction. So, not only does Rui Branco (the owner of one of the dogs) have to pay for his own lawyer, but his (and many other irate dog owners’) taxes are being used to help the city try to kill his dog and to try to hoodwink the public with cover-their-butt propaganda!

Can’t travel through Winnipeg with my dog, either!

Some people made a suggestion to a friend of mine that, if she wants to move from the West Coast of Canada to Nova Scotia with her dogs, she should drive to Winnipeg and then fly the rest of the way in order to skip dog-hating Ontario. I investigated that possibility and here’s the (bad) news.

In case anyone was wondering?

In 2005, a lady wrote to then Ontario Minister of Tourism, Jim Bradley, to find out if she could drive through Ontario with her dogs to get from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia. This was his reply.

Complicit in their own diminishment

In case you were wondering how anybody could persuade 70+ intelligent, rational, elected government representatives to define a dog as dangerous based only on they way it looks, here’s a Toronto Star article explaining how.

Journalist with good news story ends on a sour note

Some good news out of Ontario for two condemned young dogs. They’ve been shipped to the SPCA in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It’s a shame that Shawn Berry from the Daily Gleaner felt it necessary to end the story by quoting from the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeals judges. In my opinion, it is probably one of the most inaccurate and inflammatory statements ever put into print by a judge about “pit bulls”.

Animal Rights reviewed (again)

I was in a bookstore yesterday browsing the pet section and came across Ingrid Newkirk’s book “The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights”. I didn’t buy it, although I still may. What I did do, however, was collect all my earlier articles on animal rights organizations. Here is what I’ve collected to-date.

Facebook group "Boycott Nike"

Message from the owner of the Facebook group “Boycott Nike”: “I want to remind everyone NOT to buy Nike during this holiday season. They continue to supply Michael Vick with free product but refused to send me free sneakers for the volunteers at my local animal shelter. Please encourage your friends and family to do the same. Thank you.”

Stop Viacom and BET from airing "The Michael Vick Project"

Andrew Kirschner from the group “Stop Viacom and BET from airing The Michael Vick Project” spoke with a representative from Viacom this week who confirmed that BET will be airing the Michael Vick Reality Project. As you know, $Vick$ signed a “lucrative contract” (undisclosed terms) to star in his own reality show. It is time for us to prepare to boycott the show’s commercial sponsors.

No animal cruelty charges?

An emaciated pit bull and her eight neglected puppies, whose teenage owners advertised them for sale on craigslist.org, are recovering at the Nanaimo SPCA. No charges are expected to be filed.

David Letterman slams pit bulls

Kyra Sedgwick was on David Letterman on December 11 and mentioned the pit bull puppy that she and husband Kevin Bacon have adopted. Letterman then proceeded to “joke in all earnestness” about the killer nature of these dogs.

Welcome to Tom Skeldon’s nightmare!!

A puppy Monday escaped an almost certain death at the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office and is now in the care of an animal rescue group after a rare transfer of a “pit bull”-type dog out of the county’s pound. Under traditional circumstances, the puppy could have soon faced euthanasia under Dog Warden Tom Skeldon’s longstanding policy against adopting or transferring out any “pit bulls” from the pound. Once a “pit bull” dog reaches 3 months of age, there are no restrictions against Mr. Skeldon’s practice of killing all adult “pit bulls” regardless of behavior.

Bye Bye Nike!

In my opinion, there is one business reason and one business reason only for Nike to provide Vick with their brand name apparel and that’s in the hopes that he will wear it publicly, particularly on television.

Vick signs with Nike

According to Michael Vick’s agent, the NFL player has re-signed an endorsement contract with Nike, two years after they dropped him for his involvement in dog fighting.

Calgary Animal Services

Yesterday, I went to Nanaimo BC to attend a seminar by Bill Bruce, manager of Bylaw Services for Calgary Alberta. Putting it bluntly, Calgary has the best run Animal Services department in North America. Here’s a quick overview.

The story of Maddie, Carter, and Capone

UPDATE Sept 21 2009: All three dogs have been determined to not be “pit bulls” and have been released to their owners.

ORIGINAL STORY September 19 2009: The Dog Legislation Council has been dealing with an issue that, up until yesterday, was kept under the radar in the hopes that things could be worked out amicably between the dogs’ owners and Sarnia Animal Control. Since the story hit the local newspaper yesterday, September 18, I feel it’s necessary to let everyone know what’s going on.

Detailed version of Antonia’s column

Further to my entry about Antonia Zerbisias’ column in the Toronto Star, her blog has the same text, but with all the links to various stories kept intact. Makes for a more interesting read. Facebook users, click “View Original Post”.

Bryant and bike courier a class issue

Antonia Zerbisias, columnist for the Toronto Star, focuses on the stark contrast between the public “spin” afforded Bryant (thanks largely to his public relations firm) and the virtual demonization of Sheppard by the same mainstream media outlets.

I like this lady!

One of Nackawic’s local doctors, Dr. Maryann Bramstrup, is standing up for her dog and her rights as a responsible dog owner. Facebook users, click “View Original Post” after opening the note.

At least they’re saying “maybe”

Nackawic, a small New Brunswick town, says they are listening to residents’ objections and that they will consider undoing the breed-specific portion of their bylaw. I’m not holding my breath, but let’s see what happens.

Ginger: Finally free or continuing saga?

Ginger was in a Toronto animal services kennel for three and a half years, accused of aggression after defending herself against an unprovoked attack by an off-leash dog. She was freed in early June after a judge determined that she had been held illegally for that entire time. Today, we find out if the city of Toronto will be allowed to appeal that decision.

Read more at http://www.chicobandido.com/2009/06/ginger-finally-free-or-continuing-saga

HSUS killing dogs again!

You’d think that, after the Michael Vick debacle, the so-called “Humane” Society of the United States might reconsider their blanket belief that all dogs seized from dogfighters should be killed. Well, apparently not!

Problem Dogs WANTED!!

We are searching for FOUR demonstration dogs with various issues for a “CANINE CONFLICT” seminar with Cheryl Smith and Calvin Thompson in Beeton, Ontario, Canada in May 2009.

What’s it really like in Ontario?

I originally wrote this article on the two year anniversary of the Ontario legislation, so that’s about a year and a half ago. Considering our fundraising efforts to get to the Supreme Court of Canada, I think it’s appropriate to re-use it now to try to give you some idea of what life is like for many dog owners in Ontario.

Welcome to the new chicobandido!

Welcome to the new chicobandido site.  It’s still under construction and I’m still trying to figure out why the right side shows up at the bottom on some people’s computers.  Don’t worry, I’ll get it right soon!

All of the chicobandido.blogspot.com articles and comments have been transferred over here, but they’re still available on the original site and probably always will be, so you don’t need to change any links that you may have sent to people in the past.

I would suggest, however, that you update any links on your websites and blogs, in order that new readers can view the latest articles.

I’m hoping to have my first new article ready in the next couple of days.  It will be a summary of September 15 and 16 at the Ontario Court of Appeals.

For those of you who have been reading my articles via feeds/RSS, please use the RSS link at the top of this page to ensure that your feed reader is updated with new articles as they arrive. There will be NO new articles posted at chicobandido.blogspot.com


Another great tribute to the Dog

When I found Eulogy on the Dog, I felt that I had found one of the best descriptions of dog’s devotion to man.

Now, I have been sent this wonderful piece, which is more about man’s devotion to dog, after his dog has died. It is written for a setter, but is applicable to all.

A good article with a few missteps

Here is a reasonably intelligent commentary on “pit bulls”, albeit from an author who is admittedly biased toward this particular type of dog. Like myself, however, he wasn’t always that way.

You can read his story at:


In general, this is a well-articulated discussion of the plight of these dogs on this continent. There are, however, a few comments with which I take issue.

This is not meant to be a criticism of the author. From what I have read, I think he’s a wonderful owner with a big heart and a good understanding of dogs.

Unfortunately, that does not turn everything he says into the gospel truth.

Perhaps Canada is different, but I do not feel that there is an overpopulation of “pit bulls”.

I believe that there is an overpopulation of the wrong type of owner combined with a media-inspired fear of the dogs that results in many dogs ending up in wrong hands or in shelters. With the right education, more effective legislation, and a different public attitude, those dogs could just as easily have ended up living great lives with responsible owners in good homes.

The population of the dogs is not the issue. Popular breeds, by the very nature of being popular, have more bad breeders and bad owners than rare dogs.

There are backyard and puppy-mill breeding issues.

There are breeders who are breeding for the wrong reasons, including for fighting, size, and aggression.

There are owners who shouldn’t own this type of dog, or any type of dog, period.

But if the right education and the right laws were in place, these types of owners wouldn’t be able to get dogs at all and the good owners would not be prevented from rescuing and saving dogs, regardless of the size of their heads.

I also have some issues with the blanket statements made by the veterinarian, by the author, and by Dr. Andrew Luescher, who I’ll talk about separately.

The veterinarian says that people with children should pick a dog that, “if a child walks across its tail or jumps on them or whatever, nothing’s ever going to happen.”

Not only is this a statement unsubstantiated by any factual data whatsoever, it is the exact opposite of the reality that occurs every day in North America.

There are many dogs of ALL breeds that are highly intolerant of children jumping on them or stepping on their tail. There are many dogs of ALL breeds that will, and have, reacted negatively and violently to such accidental incidents.

The “pit bull” type of dog, however, is renowned for its willingness to endure such assaults. In fact, it has been my experience that this particular type of dog not only tolerates physical onslaughts by little humans, but, in many cases, enjoys them and seeks them out.

On the other hand, one of the breeds that the veterinarian so highly recommends is actually, by far, the number one biter of children in my city and is very high on the list across the country. Assuming that we can even pretend to track breed biting accurately, that breed’s numbers are much higher than those of so-called “pit bulls”.

The statements about “freakish strength” and the bite that the author has “never seen anything like”, although perhaps accurate from the author’s point of view, do nothing to help the dogs being targeted by breed-specific legislation. Writers must start to recognize that any public statement by them, even if it is supporting the dogs, will get twisted and used by politicians and other media personnel to support their reasoning for eliminating that type of dog.

This happened in Ontario where dog owners, happy to talk about how fast or strong or determined their particular dogs were, suddenly found their statements being quoted by politicians as proof that this type of dog is “qualitatively different” from other breeds.

I’ve never seen the “freakish strength” or unbelievable bite from either of my dogs. Without a doubt, my dogs are strong dogs and they choose to bite hard (on tug toys), but they do not appear to be abnormally different from dogs of other breeds.

Perhaps these attributes might exist in a particular dog that is bred from particular lines and trained to bite hard, that has been trained to hold that bite and that has been physically trained for strength.

I’ve seen Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds that are just as strong as my dogs. I’ve seen small terriers that have dislocated their owners’ shoulders. I’ve seen a French bulldog that broke its owner’s arm trying to get to another dog.

As for the bite beyond belief, my older dog owned a Kong, one single medium black Kong, for four years. It was destroyed in five minutes by a visiting Jack Russell Terrier.

My dogs’ favourite toys are the rubber spheres that have two little rubber feet on the bottom. When my girls are given a new one of these, those feet are gone within minutes. But, that happens with my close friend’s Dobermans and her Shepherd/Collie mix as well. The body of that toy lasts forever in my house.

Now to Dr. Andrew Luescher.

He is the director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Purdue University.

This “clinic” (as it’s called) is famous in the dog world for being the home of Dr. Alan Beck, the only animal behaviour “scientist” in North America who agrees with breed banning and who spouts statement after statement about the differences between “pit bulls” and other dogs, yet has no practical real-world experience at all with “pit bull” type dogs.

As a researcher and one who tries to look at every fact and statement with an objective eye, I would personally be wary of using any statement from any person associated with Purdue’s Animal Behavior Clinic. There appears to a suspect agenda at that particular facility and I would take anything coming from there with a huge grain of salt.

Virtually every dog that the average pet owner has in their home today does not do today the particular activity for which it was originally bred. Many house pets are physically incapable of performing those functions. Most house pets are not particularly interested in performing those functions. No (or extremely few) house pets have been trained to perfect those functions.

It may be true that you can find these extreme attributes and behaviours in a dog that was bred specifically for its function, that was raised in that environment, that was trained (encouraged) to act in a certain manner, that was physically conditioned to be an extreme athlete, and that has been successful at it (many aren’t).

But that situation has no bearing whatsoever on your average house pet, many of whom interact happily with dogs, cats, rabbits, and people on a daily basis.

The fat, happy yellow Lab next door, who goes to the park twice a day and doesn’t even want to chase a ball, bears no similarity whatsoever to the highly conditioned and meticulously bred and trained competition field dog that is out swimming through swamps and crashing through brush to retrieve the next bird.

The laid-back, lazy mastiff who greets all visitors with a wagging tail and an investigative sniff, or even a welcoming pair of paws on the visitor’s shoulders, is not the same dog that fought alongside Roman soldiers or protected the estates of English noblemen.

Just remember when you’re reading articles, even the positive ones, that ALL generalizations are dangerous, even this one.

Summary of Ontario committee presenters

Caveat’s earlier article quoting from the Bill 132 clause-by-clause committee meeting encouraged me to go back and look at some of the data I collected during that time.

Here’s a summary of what types of people presented at the four days of hearings and whether they were for or against the Bill.

102 deputants (presenters) testified in front of the committee over a four day period.

45 were individuals.
57 were organizations.

22 individuals were for the Bill.
22 individuals were against the Bill.
1 was undecided.

6 organizations were for the Bill.
50 organizations were against the Bill.
1 was undecided.

Of the individuals for the Bill:

  • All 22 were ordinary citizens without any apparent affiliation with an organization or organized dog activity. These included average dog owners.

Of the individuals against the Bill:

  • 17 were ordinary citizens without any apparent affiliation with an organization or organized dog activity. These included average dog owners.
  • 1 was a breeder of dogs not targeted by the legislation.
  • 2 were researchers, but were representing themselves as individuals.
  • 1 was a dog trainer.
  • 1 was a veterinarian.

The neutral individual was an average citizen not associated with any organization.

Of the organizations for the Bill:

  • 1 was a politician representing a city that has breed-specific legislation.
  • 1 was an individual who had been the victim of an alleged pit bull incident and was presenting under the name of a city that has breed-specific legislation.
  • 1 was a bylaw enforcement officer representing a city that has breed-specific legislation.
  • 2 were police organizations.
  • 1 was a dog trainer who had also been the victim of an alleged pit bull incident.

Of the organizations against the Bill:

  • 1 was a dog activity club.
  • 1 was an organization representing breed judges.
  • 5 were bylaw enforcment organizations.
  • 2 were multi-breed registries
  • 1 was a breed club for a non-targeted breed.
  • 4 were breed clubs for targeted breeds.
  • 10 were rescue organizations.
  • 9 were scientific and statistical research organizations.
  • 10 were dog training organizations.
  • 7 were veterinarians

The neutral organization was a township.

I will be expanding on this in the very near future.

The full text of all committee hearings can be found here:

Committee Hearings – January 24 2006

Committee Hearings – January 27 2006

Committee Hearings – February 2 2006

Committee Hearings – February 3 2006

Committee Votes – February 10 2006

Their minds were made up!

If you want proof that the mind of the Ontario government was made up BEFORE the Bill 132 committee hearings, you need look no further than these comments by Conservative MPP Joe Tascona and NDP MPP Peter Kormos, in opposition to the Bill.

Any rational, logical person could not listen to what these two men had to say and still believe that targeting a certain canine appearance could possibly reduce dog bites.

Keep in mind that that these statements came AFTER four days of committee hearings, in which 80% of the presenters and EVERY credible canine expert rejected the Bill 132 solution. The government had already been told what the problems would be with their approach and what solutions were already working.

Tascona and Kormos simply compressed those four days into a few thoughtful and logical sentences.

Thanks to Caveat.


Pick and choose your hatred

The Government of Ontario issued a press release on November 2 stating that the focus of this year’s “Crime Prevention Week” (November 4 to 10) will be eliminating racism, hate crimes, hate propaganda and violence to make Ontario safe.

When I read the entire release, looking at it from an Ontario “pit bull” owner’s point of view, the rhetoric struck me as entirely hypocritical. This government has been the direct cause of countless incidents of vigilantism and hatred against an identifiable group of citizens. This government has clearly promoted hatred and a canine version of racism, based on no valid data and based entirely on physical appearance.

Here are a few excerpts from the press release. Look at these statements as viewed by a dog owner in Ontario, targeted by discriminatory and hate-filled laws.

  • Fighting racism, intolerance and hate is one of the building blocks of strong and safe communities
  • Ontario will not tolerate expressions of hate and racism and will reach out to protect those who suffer from discrimination
  • Police services, school boards and community groups across Ontario will be better equipped to fight hatred and intolerance in all its forms, through greater awareness of what motivates a hate crime,
  • and through information on how to recognize subtle but hateful propaganda and activities
  • Since 2003, the government has provided specialized training in hate crimes legislation for a team of Crown attorneys

I am adamantly opposed to any type of hatred. Normally, I would look at statements like these and offer my full support.

Unfortunately, being now a victim of hatred and discrimination, not only supported by this government, but initiated by it, I find it difficult to take their stated objectives seriously.

These words may, indeed, be just that: words. Words designed to appease a frightened, media-manipulated public. Words to make us feel safe.

“Making Ontario safer”

“Keeping Ontario safer”

Michael Bryant, FORMER Attorney General of Ontario, has used those phrases ad nauseum to justify numerous human rights abuses and violations of citizens’ civil rights.

For another member of Dalton McGuinty’s party to now come out and promote this government as our “protector” is simply a bad joke.

Here’s the full press release:


An illogical leap

Craig McInnes of the Vancouver Sun wrote this article in September which initially appeared to lament the dangers of loose dogs to children.

The basic premise of the first third of his story, and certainly the gist of the headline, is that a child, when walking or playing in a place where the child is supposed to be and allowed to be, should not have to worry about being bitten by a dog.

Owners of dogs (of any breed) should not risk children’s safety by assuming that their dogs won’t bite and thus leaving their dogs loose and unsupervised.

AMEN! I couldn’t agree with you more, Craig.

The story begins with McInnes being threatened by two dogs (a black Labrador retriever and a younger dog of similar size) who were in the back of a pickup truck and not restrained in any way.

He then moves to two examples of dogs that simply should have been left alone because, unmolested, they would not have bitten anyone.

Again, perfect examples of situations that should not have happened.

The last example McInnes uses is of a pit bull shot by a police officer while attending a call about a dog biting its owner. The dog was shot on its own property, apparently as it threatened the police officer.

Although I believe that there is a tendency among police officers to shoot “pit bull” types more quickly than others, there appears to be some justification for these actions. I don’t know the whole story, so I won’t comment further. The particular details are actually not the point here.

The point is that, in the last third of his article, Craig makes a leap from this story (of a dog biting its owner inside its own house and then being shot by police) to how parents of children should not have to be worried about the trustworthiness of an approaching pit bull.

It doesn’t appear to matter that he just finished talking about a Labrador Retriever threatening him!

It doesn’t appear to matter that he just finished talking about a boy whose skull was ripped to shreds by a team of sled dogs!

It doesn’t appear to matter that that he just finished talking about the owner of a Cocker Spaniel who bugged his sleeping dog and almost lost his nose as a result!

All of these incidents have faded into the background because McInnes translates a single case of a dog biting inside its house into public concern about dangerous, unpredictable, overly strong, loose running pit bulls!

It doesn’t seem to matter to him that a “pit bull” type dog has never killed a child in Canada. Ever.

McInnes started off great and, if he had stayed in that vein, he might have actually accomplished something in terms of helping prevent dog bites.

Instead, he’s simply become another source for “pit bull ban” protaganists who want to justify their tunnel vision approach to dog bite prevention.

Stop loose running dogs.

Good idea.

Don’t allow protective, territorial dogs to reach the general public.

Makes sense.

Prevent children from reaching tethered or backyard dogs.

Another good idea.

Teach children (and others) not to bother dogs that aren’t bugging anyone.


Tell everyone that “pit bulls” are really the dogs that everyone should be worried about if they’re loose.


Comments like those at the end of McInnes’ story lead directly to comments like this from Kory Nelson, city attorney for Denver, Colorado:

“Anybody who shoots a pit bull running loose is justified,” said Nelson, the Denver city attorney. “The only difference between a pit bull and a gun is that a gun won’t chase you down the street.”

And comments like that lead inexorably to breed bans and the deaths of thousands of dogs, simply because people like Craig McInnes decide to conveniently ignore the fact that it was not a pit bull that threatened him from the back of that pickup truck.

Instead of focusing on the issues, the lack of control and training, the irresponsibility of particular, individual owners, McInnes felt it necessary to turn the whole thing around and make it about “pit bulls”.

Instead of using his newspaper space to do something good, the only McInnes has managed to accomplish is to increase the likelihood of vigilantism and legislation aimed at pit bull owners.

In the end, he has done nothing to help reduce dog bites.

Media catches up

Tuesday uncovered a few more media outlets covering the story of the eleven-year-old boy ordering his dog to attack other children.

I won’t be so presumptious as to pretend that letters to the editors from myself and others made a difference. It’s probably just the rest of the news organizations catching up to the Toronto Star.

Globe and Mail

City News

The most detailed story to-date is, surprisingly, from the Vancouver Province (the story happened in Toronto).

Vancouver Province

Interesting that two of these three organizations chose to identify the dog as a German Shepherd rather than the Irish Wolfhound / German Shepherd mix that was reported in the original story.

I am constantly reiterating that breed is the least important factor in dog bites. In this case, we have unsupervised children, a dog with a biting history, and a boy that decides to settle his arguments with the others by ordering his dog to attack. Clearly, breed was not the issue here.

It still bothers me, however, when I see these inconsistencies, because it is these very media reports that politicians use to justify breed banning.

Where is the media?

Thank you to the Toronto Star for being the ONLY paper to print this story.

I was not able to find the story in any other newspaper. This incident did not happen in a small, obscure town with only one daily or weekly paper. This happened in Toronto, with at least six daily newspapers and many online news organizations, as well as television and radio.

Yet, only one newspaper deemed this story fit to print.

Note that there is no mention of breed in the headline. In fact, the breed of the dog is mentioned once, in the sixth paragraph.

I have included the entire story below so that you can play a game. It’s a very easy game.

Simply replace the phrase “Irish Wolfhound / Shepherd mix” with the phrase “pit bull”.

No change in circumstance. No change in injuries.

Imagine what the media response would be to that story. Imagine how many news organizations, not only in Toronto, but across the province and the country, would grab that story and run with it.

Imagine the headlines.

“Pit bull mauls eight-year-old girl”
“Pit bull used as attack dog”
“Pit bull used as weapon of revenge”
“Pit bull chases and attacks four children”
“Girl lucky to be alive after being mauled by pit bull”

Instead, we get “Girl suffers leg injuries in dog attack”. Is “Irish Wolfhound / Shepherd mix” too long to put in the headline?

Imagine the questions and comments.

Where were the parents?
What was an 11 year old child doing with a “loaded weapon”?
Why was the dog “trained” to attack (based on the ability for a child to “sic” it on other children)?
Why has the dog not been destroyed?
Why was the dog not destroyed and/or the owners charged in the previous biting instances?

I’m not necessarily suggesting that the dog should have been destroyed earlier or even that it should be now, just that these would probably be the questions if the breed were different.

There could not be a better example of the double standard in the media when it comes to certain types of dogs.

Here’s the full text of the story.

Girl suffers leg injuries in dog attack

October 28, 2007
Rachel De Lazzer
Staff Reporter

Children throwing berries at each other allegedly prompted an 11-year-old boy to sick his dog on a girl on Saturday.

Injuries to the girl, 8, were not as serious as initially thought, police said yesterday. She underwent surgery on the day of the attack but suffered no muscle or tissue damage and was kept in hospital for a 48-hour period as a precaution so hospital staff could watch for signs of infection.

“Her leg was surgically repaired and will be scarred,” said Det. Martin Woodhouse, referencing the incident report.

The attack occurred on Kingston Rd. near Manse Rd. when four neighbourhood children in a townhouse complex began arguing after the children began throwing berries at other children.

One boy became upset and fetched his dog PJ from his house and allegedly sicked him on the offending children, who were frightened and fled. Police said the dog pursued them and bit the victim in her left leg thigh area.

The dog is a seven-year-old Irish Wolfhound-Sheppard mix that has a history of biting, said Woodhouse.

The boy is too young to be charged, but Woodhouse said typically police will talk to the parents about discipline in such a case.

“We’ll interview the boy and we’ll interview the parents and tell them what’s right and wrong” he said.

The dog was turned over to Animal Control for quarantine and it’s not clear whether the dog will be destroyed. Woodhouse said police would typically suggest it be put down especially in a case where a dog has a history of biting.

With files from Jackson Hayes

© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2007

Agenda? Who? Us?

The blatant media pandering to an irrational public fear is starting to get a little old.

Below, I’ve copied all three articles from the St. Catharines Standard about a dog and woman being bitten by a “pit bull”. I had to do this because, unfortunately, the Standard, like the rest of the Osprey Media publications, start charging for their stories after seven days. It’s a shame, because I can get stories from the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, and Globe and Mail from months ago for free.

So what gives a newspaper the right, after being told that a dog is a cross between two separate and distinct dog breeds, to forget about the one breed and focus only on the other?

Is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Labrador Retriever any more one than the other? Should the media just call it a German Shepherd? How about a Labradoodle (Lab + Poodle)? If that dog bites somebody, should the headlines read “Poodle mauls boy”?

Why is, then, that the phrase “pit bull” causes everyone to just focus on that one word? Is it because it MUST be the “pit bull” part that did the attacking?

Sorry, folks, the statistics, especially in this country, do not support that view. There are many dogs in this country, including the Labrador Retriever, that bite more, maim more, and kill more.

Labrador retrievers and mixes have attacked just as many people and, in many cities, more people than “pit bull” types. Does that make me dislike Labs? Of course not, but it simply recognizes that many different types of dogs bite, sometimes very seriously.

Labrador retrievers and mixes have killed more people in Canada than “pit bull” types. Does that make me afraid of Labs? Of course not, but it simply recognizes that many different types of dogs kill, even though dog bites are one of the least likely causes of death in the world.

I’m not picking on Labrador Retrievers here. That breed just happens to be the second half of the dog in this story.

But what rationale, what logic, what facts, support the instant dropping of the identifier “Labrador Retriever” in favour of the identifier “pit bull”?

We can argue all day about whether “pit bull” is even a breed. In fact, if you use the word “pit bull”, you should really just use the word “retriever” instead of “Labrador retriever” because it’s the same concept – a group of dogs that may look similar or that may be used for similar purposes.

What if the Labrador Retriever had a huge number of bites in this country and the Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever weren’t even on the radar in terms of biting? What if the statistics just said “retriever – 5,000 bites”? Wouldn’t that just drive the Golden, Chessie, and Toller owners nuts to be lumped into the same group?

Welcome to the world of “pit bull” owners!

Just so that you can see what this St. Catharines newspaper did, here are the three articles.

Keep in mind, people get bitten by dogs in St. Catharines at least once a week. The injuries here (to both dog and woman) were minor. It appears that it was most likely a dog fight and people stuck their hands in the middle, which is always a bad idea.

It actually sounds like the Lincoln County Humane Society is being pretty decent about not overreacting to a pretty typical dog fight.

Yet, we have THREE articles about the incident in this small town newspaper. I wonder if the newspaper would have the guts to go back through Animal Services records and report on ALL other dog fights where owners got bitten and ALL other bites from dog to human over the past year.

Now that would be responsible reporting.

All articles below were written by Grant LaFleche.


Grimsby woman bitten by pit bull

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Lincoln County Humane Society is trying to determine whether charges will be laid following a pit bull attack Tuesday morning in Grimsby.

“The dog was not muzzled,” said humane society executive director Kevin Strooband. “All breeds of pit bull have to have to be muzzled when not on their own property.”

The incident happened shortly before 8:30 a.m. when a resident at a Slessor Boulevard apartment building was walking her Rottweiler in the hallway.

Strooband says she passed a teenaged boy walking a pit bull/Labrador cross.

“What happened was he lost his grip on the leash when the pit bull went for the other dog,” he said.

The pit bull bit the Rottweiler, and then also bit the woman, identified by her landlord as Jennifer, on the arm and leg.

However, Strooband said the injuries were minor. The 37-year-old woman was taken to the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital for treatment. She was released a short time later.

The teenager was also injured trying to separate the dogs, but his injuries did not require medical attention.

Strooband said the pit bull has been quarantined for 10 days. That is standard procedure in cases when dogs bite a human to see whether the animal develops any symptoms of rabies.

Copyright © 2007 St. Catharines Standard


Pit bull quarantined after attack

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Lincoln County Humane Society is trying to determine whether charges will be laid following a pit bull attack Tuesday morning in Grimsby.

“The dog was not muzzled,” said society executive director Kevin Strooband. “All breeds of pit bull have to have to be muzzled when not on their own property.”

The incident happened shortly before 8:30 a.m. when a resident at a Slessor Boulevard apartment building was walking her Rottweiler in the hallway.

Strooband said she passed a teenaged boy walking a pit bull/Labrador cross.

“What happened was he lost his grip on the leash when the pit bull went for the other dog,” he said.

The pit bull bit the Rottweiler, and then also bit the woman on the arm and leg.

Strooband said the injuries were minor. The 37-year-old woman was taken to the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital for treatment and released a short time later. The teen was hurt trying to separate the dogs, but his injuries did not require medical attention.

Strooband said the pit bull has been quarantined for 10 days, standard procedure when dogs bite a human to see whether the animal shows symptoms of rabies.

Copyright © 2007 St. Catharines Standard


Pit bull involved in attack released from quarantine

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A pit bull that bit a Grimsby woman Tuesday has been released from quarantine by the Lincoln County Humane Society.

The dog was placed in quarantine as a matter of procedure following the Slessor Boulevard incident. Dogs that bite humans are kept in quarantine for 10 days to see whether symptoms of rabies develop.

However, humane society executive director Kevin Strooband said Wednesday the public health department gave him the green light to release the animal.

The dog is going with its owner to Milton where it will be observed for 10 days.

The pit bull bit a 37-year-old woman around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The woman was walking in the hallway of her apartment building and came near a teenager walking the pit bull. The pit bull bit the other dog and its owner. Both the woman and the dog are fine, Strooband said, and suffered only minor injuries.

Ontario law requires all pit bulls be muzzled outside their own property. This dog was not. However, Strooband said charges will only be laid if the victim wants them to be. As yet, no charges have been laid.

Copyright © 2007 St. Catharines Standard

Dangerous and Disruptive Pets Survey

Here is a brief summary of a survery conducted by Ipsos Canada. The summary was also produced by Ipsos, so the “interesting tidbits” listed for each city have been selected by the editors of the news release and, as such, may not actually be the most revealing statistics.

I’m hoping to get the full report and I certainly will be making more comments on this document in the near future.

Attention News Editors:

‘Dangerous dogs are a product of poor upbringing, not genes,’ says 86 per cent of Canadian Ipsos respondents

Dangerous and Disruptive Pets Survey released by Ipsos Canada at Summit for Urban Animal Strategies

CALGARY, Oct. 18 /CNW/ – Most community members polled from across the country believe that an animal’s upbringing plays a bigger role than breed and size when determining dangerous behaviour. With that being the case, it is not surprising that pet owners were named as the primarily responsible party for managing disruptive pets, with local humane societies coming in second and the municipal government being named as third. These were just some of the findings of the 2007 Urban Animal Survey, released today by Ipsos Canada at the Banff Summit for Urban Animal Strategies.

The online survey asked questions about disruptive and dangerous pets to a nationally representative Canadian Household Panel, in eight communities throughout Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Although the questions focused on potentially harmful urban pets in general, an overwhelming majority (95 per cent) of Canadians who have felt threatened by pets named canines as the culprit. In fact, dogs also came out on top as the most common type of pet found to be disruptive (93 per cent of instances) – whether that be making excessive noise, or leaving feces on public or personal property.

Of the Canadians surveyed, 83 per cent have had their lifestyle disturbed by a pet. Be that as it may, over one-fifth (22 per cent) of our tolerant community members were not at all concerned about disruptive pets in the community.

“We discovered that although more than half of respondents felt that the existing legislation in their community was sufficient for managing disruptive pets, an even larger majority of constituents – seven in 10 – indicated knowing little or nothing about pet-related legislation,” says David Webb, Senior Research Manager for Ipsos Canada. “Given these stats, there is clearly still work to be done on an education and awareness front.”

When it came to dangerous pets, community members were concerned for their own safety, that of their family and that of others in the community in similar proportions (32 per cent, 39 per cent and 39 per cent respectively). Interestingly, 77 per cent of Canadians surveyed said that pet owners should be the responsible party for managing dangerous pets, but 70 per cent believed that the humane society or SPCA were the ones doing the job. Is there a perception that pet owners are shirking their responsibilities? Perhaps, since almost half of respondents (49 per cent) completely agree that how a dog is raised determines its behaviour – not genetics.

Despite this fact – there is still a consensus among community members (53 per cent) that people should be banned from having specific types of pets, and a similar percentage (51 per cent) are in favour of banning specific breeds of dogs from ‘Leash Free Parks.’ In fact, a particularly cautious 24 per cent of respondents want all dogs to wear muzzles in public places.

“In speaking with our session leaders and delegates, we discovered that the topic of disruptive and dangerous animals was one that stimulated a great deal of discussion and debate,” says Larry Evans, Chair of the Banff Summit Organizing Committee. “With this in mind, we commissioned this survey by Ipsos Canada to find out how the community at large were affected by these types of animals in their everyday lives.”

<< How do the Communities Compare? Hamilton/Burlington, Ontario
  • Fifty-five per cent of people in Hamilton/Burlington, the highest of any community surveyed, do not believe that larger dogs are more likely to be dangerous than smaller dogs
  • Thirty per cent of those surveyed in this area agree with legislation requiring all dogs to undergo a behaviour assessment before entering the communit
  • Consistent with the average for all respondents in this survey, 37 per cent of people in Hamilton/Burlington would like legislation governing dangerous pets to be ‘completely proactive’

St. Catharines, Ontario

  • Ninety-two per cent of people from St. Catharines (six per cent higher than the overall average) believe that how a dog is raised plays a bigger role in determining dangerous behaviour than the dog’s breed and size
  • Caution wins out – St. Catharines is home to the highest percentage of those in favour of banning ‘Leash Free Parks’ for dogs (22 per cent)
  • One in two respondents support legislation requiring specific breeds of dogs to wear muzzles when in public places
  • Twelve per cent of respondents are ‘very concerned’ about disruptive pets in the community (highest of all participating communities)

London, Ontario

  • Londoners enjoy a well-heeled companion – 30 per cent support legislation requiring all dogs to undergo professional dog training (highest of all participating communities)
  • When asked how prevalent dangerous pets are in the community, over one-quarter answered ‘very or somewhat’ prevalent
  • People in London felt the most threatened of all communities surveyed by an animal that approached aggressively, at 73 per cent
  • Londoners make friendly neighbours – almost half of respondents (47 per cent) were concerned for the safety of other community members due to dangerous pets, and 46 per cent were concerned for their own families

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

  • Sixty per cent of people in Saskatoon do not agree with legislation requiring all pets to undergo a behaviour assessment before entering the communit
  • Half of respondents disagree with legislation that bans pet owners from having specific types of dogs (only 17 per cent ‘completely agree’ with this legislation)
  • Residents of Saskatoon like their dogs to run free – 72 per cent are not supportive of legislation that would ban ‘Leash Free Parks’
  • Sixty-two per cent of Saskatoon respondents, the highest of all communities surveyed, think police officers are responsible for managing dangerous pets in their community (but 80 per cent think it should be pet owners)

St. Albert, Alberta

  • Residents of St. Albert appear to be more knowledgeable about pet legislation than other survey respondents; 43 per cent claim to know ‘some or a lot’ – the highest of any communit
  • An overwhelming majority (90 per cent) also agree with legislation requiring all dog owners to register their dogs with the municipalit
  • Watch out for animals in St. Albert – 20 per cent of those who had felt personally threatened by a dangerous pet said the dog was biting (highest of any community) – as opposed to barking or growling

Calgary, Alberta

  • When Calgarians were asked how concerned they were about disruptive pets in the community, over one-quarter (26 per cent) said they were ‘not at all concerned’
  • The people of Calgary would like the government to stay out of it – 20 per cent of respondents believe that disruptive pets are a private matter
  • Eighty-two per cent of Calgarians (highest of all communities) have not felt personally threatened by a dangerous pet in the community

Vancouver, British Columbia

  • People in Vancouver are divided on whether or not size matters – one in two disagree that larger dogs are more likely to be dangerous than smaller breeds
  • Vancouverites are the least knowledgeable about pet legislation when compared to their fellow survey respondents – 75 per cent claim to know ‘little or nothing’
  • The same percentage (75 per cent) believe that the Humane Society/SPCA are responsible for managing dangerous pets in the community – but when asked who should be managing dangerous pets, ‘pet owners’ were named by 73 per cent of respondents
  • Respondents are concerned about their furry friends – 33 per cent were concerned for the safety of their own pets, due to other dangerous animals in the community

Capital Regional District of British Columbia

  • Only two per cent of Victorians feel they know a lot about pet legislation in their community – the lowest of all communities in the surve
  • One-third of Victorians (33 per cent) – the highest of all communities surveyed – have felt a dangerous animal has posed a personal threat to them, their family or their pets
  • Of those feeling threatened, 98 per cent named dogs as the aggressor


About Ipsos Canada

Ipsos-Reid is Canada’s leading marketing research and public affairs company in Canada, both in terms of size and reputation. It operates in seven cities and employs more than 300 researchers and support staff in Canada. It has the biggest network of telephone call centres, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels in Canada. Its Canadian marketing research and public affairs practices are staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds offering the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, including the Ipsos Trend Report, the leading source of public opinion in the country. Ipsos-Reid is a member of the Ipsos Group, the second largest survey-based marketing research company in the world.

For copies of other news releases, please visit:

About the Banff Summit for Urban Animal Strategies

The Banff Summit for Urban Animal Strategies (BSUAS) is a specialized conference of thought leaders from across North America who come together to consider strategies for improving animal care in the community. Delegates who are known for their contributions to Animal Control, Animal Welfare, Animal Wellness and Community Collaboration are invited by the event’s selection committee. This year’s Summit, which was held at the Banff Centre from Tuesday, October 16 to Thursday, October 18, focused on the theme of “Disruptive and Dangerous Animals in Our Communities.”

Further information regarding the BSUAS can be found at www.bsuas.com.

These are the findings of an Ipsos-Reid poll conducted from September 7 to 21, 2007, of panelists living in the participating communities. A sample from the Canadian Household Panel was sent an e-mail invitation asking them to participate in the study. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within +/- 2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population been polled. For individual communities, the margin of error would range from +/- 5.4 to +/- 7.6 per cent. The Canadian Household Panel is continually monitored and balanced against Statistics Canada demographics including gender, age and income to ensure it is representative of Canadian communities.

For further information:

For media inquiries, contact Charlene Lo, Optimum Public Relations – (416) 436-8651, charlene.lo@cossette.com or David Webb, Ipsos Canada – (519) 780-4704, David.Webb@Ipsos-Reid.com

Original link:


As the clock clicked over to 12:00 AM, October 11, I found myself sitting in front of the TV, watching the final numbers roll in from the Ontario election. Probably the worst birthday present I’ve received in my life.

Liberals 71 seats 42.12% popular vote
PC 26 seats 31.55% popular vote
NDP 10 seats 16.95% popular vote
Green 0 seats 8.05% popular vote
Other 0 seats 1.34% popular vote

So, I sat in the living room, singing a song and hugging my dogs:

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday, dear pit bull (dog) owner
Happy Birthday to me.

I know it sounds like a pity party, but it really only lasted for half an hour. I’m more determined than ever to get rid of this government, succeed in court, and increase public awareness. I believe we’re going to have to make significant strides in all three areas in order to be successful.

This is not just an Ontario fight, it’s Canadian, it’s North American, it’s worldwide.

So, on with the fight.

In the words of Winston Churchill:

Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never —- in nothing, great or small, large or petty —- never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.



Today, YOU can make a difference.

YOU can change the lives of thousands of dog owners and save the lives of thousands of dogs in Ontario.

To do this, you MUST:


If you don’t vote, don’t complain later about what you get. I hope that every dog owner in this province, not matter how tired, sick, busy, bored, or disillusioned, drags themselves to the voting booth.

To find out where to vote and who your candidates are, go to



Put simply, if the PC or NDP parties get in power, even in a minority government scenario, we will at least have a chance of overturning the Liberals’ dog-killing, rights-trampling legislation.

If the Liberals get in power, then there will be no reversal of this law. In fact, there is a real possibility that it will get worse.


Vote for who is most likely to beat the Liberal candidate in your particular riding. I’ve received a number of complaints because I seem to be promoting one party over another. That is true. I am. But I’m not saying vote PC to everyone, everywhere. I’m saying vote for who can beat the Liberals where you are (see point #2). That’s all.

I respect that it’s a bit much to ask you to vote for a party to whom you may have been opposed your whole life. I know a lot of people who would never vote PC and a lot of others who would never vote NDP.

So, if you can’t bring yourself to vote strategically, then at least go back to point #2.


Push people. You don’t have to be over-polite at this point. Help them understand the importance of the above 3 points.

Questions like this:

You’ve known my dog and me for how many years?

And you’ve seen what we’ve gone through?

And the other dog owners you know who’ve experienced similar things?

You’ve seen how their lives have been changed?

Do you want us to continue to go through this, living in fear for our dogs’ lives?

Do you care enough about us and our dogs to vote against the Liberals in this election?

Because I’ll pretty well guarantee you that, if they win, we’re moving out of this province.

That might wake them up.

I’ll be up late tonight with fingers and toes crossed.

Hope it’s a good day tomorrow. It’s my birthday.



Once upon a time, in a province called Ontario, a man named Dalton McGuinty wanted to become premier so badly that he made many promises. He said he would not raise taxes. He promised to close the dirty coal-burning plants. He would help autistic children, relieve gridlock problems and help immigrants have their qualifications recognized in Canada.
Here is the A to Z story of what happened when this man gained power.

A is for the autistic children.

Once elected McGuinty failed to provide the funding he had promised during his election campaign. If that wasn’t enough, he then fought the parents in court. Twice. One member of parliament tried to find out how much public money was spent on the court case, but the Attorney General refused to say. He used public funds, but then said the public did not have the right to know how much the legal action cost.

B is for broken promises.

Fifty to be precise. Once in power McGuinty abandoned his list of promises, passing the blame off on the previous government. But there was a problem with his claim, because when he found a large surplus just before the next election he didn’t use it to make good on any of his previous promises. No. McGuinty used the money to try to buy votes with new promises.

C is for the dirty coal plants that are still open.

McGuinty promised he would close coal-fired electricity plants by 2007. They are still burning, still polluting, while McGuinty pounds the campaign trail.

D is for the dogs that have been killed or sent to animal research.

The Attorney General said he would listen to the experts, but when every expert at the public hearings opposed the ban the Liberals pushed the law through. McGuinty and his party knew that passing the ban was going to hurt responsible dog owners and that it would result in the needless deaths of thousands of animals. They passed the law anyway.

E is for egotistical.

McGuinty broke promises, but expects voters to simply forgive him. He acts like the cat that’s caught the canary, pleased with himself for getting away with his unacceptable behaviour.

F is for fear mongering.

How do you distract the public away from your long list of broken promises? Why not say you are going to ban things. Ban sushi, t-shirts, smoking in designated smoking rooms, dogs … the list goes on. Then if people are busy being afraid, maybe they won’t notice what a bad job you’re doing of governing.

G is for giving grants with no openness or accountability.

Under McGuinty’s leadership the Liberals were sharply criticized by Ontario’s Auditor General for the way they doled out over $32 million dollars in grants to multicultural organizations. The catch was that you had to know someone to get a chance to get funded, which left many organizations in the dark. The Ontario Cricket Association did well, however. They asked the province for $150,000 and got a clean $1 million dollar – 666% more than they’d asked for. So the OCA has $500,000 left over in an interest-earning GIC.

H is for the health tax hike.

McGuinty promised not to raise taxes, but almost as soon as he was elected he introduced a $2.8 billion dollar tax hike. When McGuinty found a $2.3 billion dollar surplus did he do the right thing and eliminate or at least start to phase out the hated tax? No. It was election time again, so he gave away our tax dollars in the hope that he would be re-elected.

I is for the immigrants who were betrayed.

McGuinty promised he would eliminate barriers to foreign trade professionals within one year. He also committed to see that qualified immigrants would be accepted by trades and professions within one year. These are just two more broken promises, with qualified immigrants left in low-paying jobs.

J is for the lack of justice in our province.

McGuinty’s Attorney General appeared on television when a newspaper boy was bitten by an alleged “pit bull” and needed a few stitches. Yet when a young woman was gunned down, murdered, while shopping on Boxing Day where was the outrage or even just a public appearance from the same Attorney General? The McGuinty Liberals made one thing clear. Public safety was very important to them if it centred around an issue that makes people mad, like letting Karla Homolka free or banning dogs that have a bad rep. Too bad about all those other people who needed their attention, like the citizens who have been shot, stabbed or swarmed.

K is for not keeping his word.

McGuinty must have missed the lessons on honest, integrity and keeping your promises that most of us learned in Kindergarten.

L is for the lack of consultation.

Instead of working with concerned interest groups, McGuinty’s government shut them out and simply pushed through legislation. It was his-way or the highway.

M is for the multicultural grants given to groups with strong Liberal ties.

One organization in Richmond Hill was too new to qualify for a grant under normal programs. There is no written record of a grant application, but somehow they got $200,000 to build a community centre. Since they don’t have land yet that money now sits in the group’s bank account. After getting the grant two board members moved on in their career. One became the local Liberal candidate while the other became the president of the local Liberal riding association.

N is for the 8,000 nurses McGuinty failed to hire, despite his election promise.

Just one more way that McGuinty has let our healthcare system down.

O is for Ontario, which has suffered under McGuinty’s rule.

Once the most prosperous province in Canada, last year Ontario ranked 10th out of 10 for its economic growth and our unemployment rate has moved consistently above the national average.

P is for protecting the innocent.

The powers of the justice system have failed to work on one of the most important issues facing our province, the murder of our children on the streets and even in their schools. This issue didn’t play well in sound bites, so while the media covered it extensively, action from the McGuinty Liberals was virtually non-existent.

Q is for the questions that were pushed aside during the 2007 election campaign.

Like a skilled politician, McGuinty put his career ahead of the issues during the 2007 election campaign. He used the issue of faith based funding to pre-empt important discussions about healthcare, taxes, education, poverty and the environment. For the record McGuinty is totally opposed to faith based funding, which he sees as divisive. Incidentally, McGuinty’s children go to a Catholic school, Ontario’s only publicly funded faith based school.

R is for not reducing auto insurance as promised.

McGuinty said he would reduce auto rates by 10% within 90 days of elected. Did he? Of course not. Chalk it up to yet one more broken promise.

S is for not spending every penny of the new health tax on healthcare.

McGuinty said that he would spend every penny of the new health tax on healthcare. What really happened is that health care dollars went into general revenues and McGuinty went on to cut healthcare services, starting with eye exams, chiropractic treatment and physiotherapy.

T is for the tolls on the 407 highway.

During the election McGuinty promised to roll back tolls on the 407 highway. This, of course, did not happen.

U is for failing to unclog emergency rooms.

McGuinty promised that he would unclog emergency rooms. He failed to deliver and people like Patricia Vepari have died as a result. In February 2005 the 21-year-old engineering student in Kitchener-Waterloo decided to go home after waiting in an emergency room for 8 hours. She then died at home of her infection.

V is for the victims of crime.

McGuinty said he would provide legal rights for the victims of crime, but his Attorney General was too busy banning sushi, t-shirts and dogs to pay attention to those truly in need. So another promise bit the dust.

W is for the whipped votes, another broken election promise.

McGuinty said he would allow non-cabinet MPPs to criticize and vote against government legislation. As it turns out there was too much to criticize, so votes were whipped and McGuinty broke yet another promise.

X is for excruciating.

Which is exactly what another four years of the McGuinty Liberals would be like.

Y is for “yesterday’s man”.

The people of Ontario bought McGuinty’s song and dance once. With the issue of faith-based schools now open to a free vote, McGuinty should be none other than yesterday’s man in the October 10th election.

Z is for zero.

That’s exactly how many more chances McGuinty and his Liberals should get when voters go to the poll on October 10, 2007.

Courtesy of Julie King.

That’s not true. That’s not true.

Dalton McGuinty completely ignores a terminally ill cancer patient at a hospital in Ottawa.

Click here if you can’t see the video.

How about these instead?

“Dalton, you promised to close the coal plants”

  — That’s not true. That’s not true.

“Dalton, you promised not to raise taxes”

  — That’s not true. That’s not true.

“Dalton, you hoodwinked the public into believing they’re safe from dog attacks”

  — That’s not true. That’s not true.

“Dalton, you promised to allow MPP’s to criticize and vote against government legislation”

  — That’s not true. That’s not true.

“Dalton, you promised to hire 1,000 new police officers”

  — That’s not true. That’s not true.

Woo Hoo!

Not much leaves me speechless, but this story at CNN sure did.

Based on the history of cases like this in the U.S., I was not expecting a positive outcome for the dogs.

Most of Vick’s dogs will go to families and a ‘sanctuary’

Thanks to KC Dog Blog and Donna at Bad Rap for this info. Bad Rap had a lot to do with the evaluation process.

I’ve only been able to find one other newspaper that has mentioned this story, the Daily Press, a local Newport News newspaper. The town is called Newport News and is in Surry, where Vick was charged.

I’m really hoping that other media organizations besides CNN will cover this, but the story’s over a day old, so maybe not. They’re so quick to jump on the negative stories, but here’s just about the most positive story you could find about the breed and there’s virtually nothing out there.

Even the local newspaper’s headlines were negative:

Judge orders Vick dog to be euthanized
Aggressive Vick dog may die

Both news organizations have clearly missed the point and it’s becoming obvious that the rest don’t care.

49 dogs, specifically bred and used for dog-fighting, have been evaluated for temperament with people, kids, and dogs. Only one of the 49 exhibited enough aggression that it was ordered destroyed.

Of the remaining 48, it seems that some were great and some were just OK. Some were probably happy and outgoing. Some, according to court documents, need further work to overcome their fear and lack of social skills.

Hey HSUS! Hey PETA! Hey Michael Bryant and Kory Nelson! Where are you now? Why aren’t you in front of the cameras now?

Shouldn’t you all be spouting your usual rhetoric?

Ticking timebombs. A breed apart. Inherently dangerous. Unpredictable. Unstable.


We tried to tell you. We showed you dogs with Canine Good Neighbour certificates, therapy dogs, obedience champions, search & rescue dogs, family pets. You didn’t want to see (or hear).

We told you that an average of 86% of all “pit bulls” temperament-tested by the American Temperament Testing Society passed the tests, better than many “typical” family breeds.

Now, I’m not saying that every one of these 48 are going to turn out great or even survive the next round of tests and rehabilitation, but one thing they are NOT doing is lashing out with serious aggression, despite the abuse that they’ve suffered.

If you believed everything that Michael Bryant and his ilk tell you, they would be trying to kill everything they see simply because they’re genetically programmed to do so.

If you believed everything that PETA and HSUS tell you, they would be reacting with extreme aggression and unpredictability because of the terrible things that have happened to them at the hands of Vick and his cohorts.

And yet, they’re not!

Hold on! 48 out of 49. Isn’t that 98%? I’m sorry. Did I hear that right?

NINETY-EIGHT PERCENT of these dogs are now being considered as possible candidates for adoption or law enforcement and have not yet shown any aggression significant enough to have them killed.

Yet these same dogs would be confiscated and killed if their new owners dared to step foot inside the province of Ontario.

By the way, you want to know why these dogs weren’t destroyed? Because the “Humane” Society of the United States and the People for the “Ethical” Treatment of Animals weren’t allowed to get their hands on this one.

God knows, they tried. But the ASPCA and Bad Rap and the U.S. Attorney’s office can be thanked for saving these dogs’ lives.

We all know, based on past similar events, what would have happened to these dogs had HSUS or PETA been asked for their “expert” opinion.

I also hope that anyone who donated money to either of these two organizations to help house and feed these dogs has asked for their money back. The dogs were housed and fed by the local Animal Shelter.

FYI, here are copies of the court documents, courtesy of the Daily Press.

District attorney’s motion, not only for the destruction of the one dog, but more importantly, for the preservation of the other 48.

Judge’s order for destruction of one dog

Comments about Lucky the Lab

I posted an earlier article about Lucky the Labrador Retriever, whose destruction was requested by the city of Thornhill after he was identified as a “pit bull”.

Well, over at Wag the Dog, where the same article was posted, some nasty comments here and here have been made by someone who says they’re not a Liberal supporter and that they don’t believe in breed-specific legislation.

They have a funny way of showing it!

They were immediately assured by Wag the Dog authors that, not only is this particular story verifiable, but all of the items posted on that blog have actually happened to real people with real dogs.

The daughter of Lucky’s owner also posted her own comments on that same site. You can read them here.

I wonder if the comment-maker just decided to post something controversial so they could sit back and watch everyone freak out.


Despite their idiocy, I really hope that Animal Control doesn’t come knocking on their door. Now that would really cause a commotion, wouldn’t it?

If it looks like a "pit bull" . . .

A special story for those who have recently sent in comments questioning the accuracy and truthfulness of our supposed “scare-mongering” tactics about what life is like for many dog owners in Ontario.

This is a true, verifiable story (as have been all of my accounts) that was related to me by a first-hand directly-involved party.

The owner of a pit bull type dog, well known in a local Toronto park, was visiting the park. A buzz was going around the park that day because of a serious dog-on-dog attack that had occurred the day before.

The pit bull owner visited the park a couple of times that day and had at least a dozen people come up and say, “Did you hear about the pit bull attack? Did you hear?”.

The pit bull owner happened to know the attacking dog which was (and is) an American Bulldog.

So, to each person who came running up saying “did you hear?”, this owner repeated to them, “it was not a pit bull, it was an American Bulldog”.

Finally, the owner of a Golden Retriever / Poodle mix turned to the owner and said, “For Ch…t’s sake, would you stop defending your breed and admit that it will attack and injure other dogs!”.

At which point, the GoldenDoodle owner was confronted by another dog owner who said, “I know which dog you’re talking about and it was an American Bulldog”.

The GoldenDoodle owner turned, looked at the pit bull owner, spat at that person’s feet, and walked away.

This GoldenDoodle owner spewed hatred and venom at this dog owner for an incident that didn’t involve that person, didn’t involve their dogs, and didn’t even involve their breed.


Labrador Retriever owner charged with owning a "pit bull"

One of my own biggest frustrations over the past few years has been how difficult it has been to gather dog owners of ALL breeds together. Together, we’re one of the largest demographics in the country and, together, politicians would have no choice but to listen.

Many, many of the people who have supported the fight against the Ontario legislation own breeds or mixes that aren’t explicitly included in the law and some don’t own dogs at all. To those people, I appreciate your time, effort, money and the fact that you “get it”.

But there are literally hundreds of thousands of dog owners in Ontario who think it’s someone else’s problem.

How many times have I heard, “it won’t happen to us”, “our dog’s not a pit bull, why should we worry?”, “well, they have to do something about these owners and maybe this is the best way”?

Well folks, like we’ve been trying to say for a while now, it’s NOT just about pit bulls and it CAN happen to you.

Remember the different breeds listed in an earlier article, all of which have been identified by Ontario authorities as “pit bulls”. Notice I said “authorities”. These were not just average members of the public pointing at a dog and thinking they might know the breed. These were people who have the power to take your dog away and kill it.

Here’s a perfect example, this time a Labrador Retriever. Keep in mind, when you’re reading this, that six out of every seven dogs in this country do NOT have purebred registration papers. Putting it bluntly, this lady got lucky. Usually, they take your dog and keep it at a shelter, under extremely stressful conditions, while your court case winds it way through six months or a year or two years. So, even if you can prove the breed of your dog, it would normally be confiscated until the court case.


And another, this time a Jack Russell Terrier mix.


A person writing a comment about an earlier article questioned the accuracy of some of the statements regarding what life is like in Ontario right now. I can assure you that, even though most of these people don’t want publicity and don’t want their names used, I have talked with the majority of these people personally and, in the rest, one of our directors or lawyers has.

These are real stories happening to real people every day in this province.

Read them again at the link below and ask yourself if you really want to vote Dalton McGuinty, Michael Bryant, David Zimmer, and the rest of the Liberal Party of Ontario back into office.


Miakoda’s dead

I received this letter today from East Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Please read and act.

Miakoda’s dead. My baby. My pride & joy. Cole’s best friend…….is dead. All because of some irresponsible *******.

I’ll got into more detail later, but what happened was the temp outside was nice, all the neighbors were out working the yards with their kids out playing, so I decided to load Cole up in the stroller and walk some dogs just up and down the street (it’s a deadend street). Mia was the 3rd dog I walked. As we were making out way back to the house, the unimaginable happened: a 100 lb Lab mix came bolting out of his front door. The dog was charging, barking & growling, straight towards me & Cole as Mia was on the other side and she didn’t even see him coming. Lord forgive me, I didn’t know what else to do but to yank Mia onto the side of the dog in order to let her try and ward the dog off while I got Cole out of the way. I could only imagine what would have happened at that dog hit the stroller at full speed. Thus my nightmare began.

Several neighbors who witnessed what happened, ran over to try and help. My neighbor & friend, Leslie, grabbed Cole and rushed him inside her home. It was then I turned my attention to my 44 lb girl doing her best to protect us from a 100 lb beast. One of the larger men decided, along with myself, to try and get the dogs apart as Mia was fighting with all her heart but that dog had a huge advantage. When he hit her running, she was literally flung over onto her back. Since I trusted Mia, I had the guy try to get a hold of her while I dealt with the lab (yes, I’m stupid, but that was MY dog that dog was trying to kill). Now mind you, the other dog’s owner still hadn’t come out of his house despite all the yelling & screaming not just by the adults, but by the 7-8 children watching this take place. When we had a good chance, we both went in for the dog’s collars to grab hold. That’s when the Lab saw me coming & turned his attention onto my leg. He grabbed & shook, but the other guy missed grabbing Mia as she was able to jump up and she then got a firm grip on the dog’s upper leg and chest area. She wouldn’t let go. At this time, the Lab’s owner came running out and he was literally beating the life out of Mia, but she wouldn’t let go. I kept trying to get to him & yell at him that he was making her even more mad, but he wouldn’t listen. I was desperately trying to get him to just find a way to put a leash on his dog then we could get them apart, but he was ignoring me. Finally some of the other guys were able to pull him away. But before I could even blink, he came out with a shotgun. And that’s when he shot my Mia…….he shot my baby girl. He shot MY dog! He shot her in front of children!

I don’t remember much after that except hearing her scream and then go limp. I remember the other guy trying to get a hold of his dog when the sheriff deputies pulled up. They then called in the state police and animal control.

They arrested the man for animal cruelty and for discharging a firearm in the close proximity of humans. They were nice & sympathetic and decided to not allow him to bail out tonight, but rather the s.o.b. will have to wait for the judge or whomever to see bail in the morning. The kicker was that when AC finally got the other dog loaded up, I told them bluntly that I wanted that dog dead by tonight & they could check for rabies the old fashioned way. And guess what I was told: That they were going to hold the dog for 10 days and then release it back into its home and that I would have to file a complaint otherwise. So here I am with a dead dog in the middle of the street and I’m hearing that this ******* & his just as crappy family will get their “beloved pet” back. There is absolutely NO justice! NONE!

I talked to a Lt. on the scene and he told me to file suit early in the week against the owner & the dog. He said the issue he could see is that I was bitten trying to break up a dog fight vs. just being bitten outright. (Yet, I had barely even touched the dog when it saw me & turned and grabbed me!)

I just got off the phone with my friend and lawyer, and she will have something worked up by the middle of this week so we can file. Over my dead body will that family get that mongrel back.

But what makes me the angriest and the saddest is that in less than a minute that guy ruined my life, but nothing I can do from here on out will cause him the same pain and anguish and torment and anger and frustration that he has caused me. Nothing.

I don’t know what I’m going to do from here. A part of my heart died tonight with my girl. She was my baby. She was Cole’s best friend. She was a clown just like her momma. A part of me is ready to just throw in the towel. I’ve done nothing but love these dogs and fight for them, and yet I’ve been through too much heartache. I honestly don’t even have the desire to go deal with the dogs I’ve got left…..but I know I have to. I can’t give up…..not now……not ever.

God I wish this was all a dream. I wish I could turn back time and decide to call it an evening and not walk the dogs. God….there are so many things I wish could’ve been done differently. But my baby’s gone………..she’s gone………

I’ve got to go now as I was originally going to bury Mia with a neighbor’s help, but my former boss has so graciously offered to open the clinic for me to bring her in for private cremation. One day I will spread her ashes out somewhere she would’ve loved to have roamed free…….and that day she will be free……..never to be harmed through words or actions by the cruel and heartless people in this world. God help me……I don’t know how I’m going to get through this………….

After I leave there, I’m headed to the hospital to get my leg looked at. I’ve got one really deep puncture and a lot of swelling now. My entire quad is throbbing and I have some tingling in my toes. I have included some pictures of my leg after I cleaned it up a bit–they are somewhat graphic, so look at your own risk. And mind you, I was wearing bluejean shorts at the time and the dog bit clear through the pantsleg.

We are trying to help her anyway we can. She has spent her life fighting for our dogs and now we need to help fight in memory of Miakoda. I know everyone here is extremely busy but anything will help.

After what has happened in my life and after numerous discussions with friends, family, and a government official, an idea was presented to have those willing write letters to “To whom it may concern:” or “Dear sir or madam,” and send them to a specified email account. Letters will be printed off daily and stored for a certain time frame (let’s say 4 weeks) before being bound into a “book” of sorts. The theory behind this is that while it is wonderful to have everyone sending in letters here and there to various news media and gov’t officials, the reality is that they delete them faster than they can get the next lie out of their mouths. It’s nice to hear numerous voices proclaiming the same message whether it be education about the “pit bull” breeds, outrage against B.S.L., etc., but the idea of putting out a book of letters that will instead be speaking as one loud and noticeable voice is very exciting and intriguing.

We have the large commercial printers and the binding machines and supplies needed for me to do this here in East Baton Rouge Parish and Ascension Parish. My plan is to dispense these “books” into the hands of those who need a wake-up call and the hands of friends in positions that can be beneficial to us. The local news media, both t.v. stations and newspaper, will also receive several copies.

Worst case scenario the books are thrown out. Better scenario is that someone finds the book on their desk, glances through it, reads a few letters, and becomes intrigued that hundreds of people have come together and put forth the effort to speak and be heard. Best scenario is for this book of letters to touch someone’s heart and mind and cause them to face the truth behind the dogs, the truth behind the owners, and see what steps we propose as a group to fix the issues (not just with “pit bulls”, but with ALL dogs–i.e. mandatory leash laws, high fines for loose dogs, dogs loose a 2nd time get euthanized, whatever…………)

The email address for sending letters to is miakodasmemory@yahoo.com .

While I would greatly appreciate letters addressing my situation, I would also love for some to do some informative ones about the dogs, about us as owners, and offer alternatives to B.S.L. This is our chance to truly join together and speak as one!

I do ask that everyone keep their cool (which is why I’ve waited this long to write letters myself) and to avoid foul language. I will be running spellcheck on every letter before printing them out as well so just do your best at spelling and grammar, but don’t stress about it. However, I will ONLY be editing spelling and punctuation and will NOT change any content whatsoever. These are your words not mine and that’s what makes it special…..that we each have a voice and we each have the right to use it!

Feel free to crosspost this thread as I would love to see how far this goes.

Also, the book will be updated even after the initial 4 weeks I am giving it. And I also plan on turning it into a .pdf document so that I can send it to anyone who wishes to do their own reproduction as it would be wonderful for everyone to use in their own fights against B.S.L. and the ignorant public.

Again I just want to thank everyone for all the kind words, for all the support, and for all the thoughts and prayers. I know I sound like a broken record here, but I cannot stress how tough the past 2 weeks (almost) have been. It’s been such a comfort to know that people beyond my family and circle of local friends are out there fighting for me and my dogs just as much as for themselves and their dogs. And I will say that it goes both ways.

I’m doing this in Miakoda’s memory and in her honor, but it’s not just for her. I’m doing this for ALL the dogs in the hopes that we can turn things around so that our dogs aren’t killed/murdered and we as owners aren’t criminals that must prove our innocence.

Ontario: There’s no place like this!

I’m one of the lucky ones (I guess).

I’ve already decided that my dogs could be identified as “pit bulls” by Animal Control officers in Ontario, I’ve been on television, on radio, in the newspapers, and out at public events with them.

I’ve licensed them with my city as “pit bull terriers” (their words, not mine). In hindsight, I may have been better off licensing them as mutts, but I wasn’t thinking about a BAN ON MY DOGS when I licensed them!

I’m less likely than some to be able to argue what my dogs are or aren’t, simply because I’ve fought so hard and so publicly for them.

Unlike the poor lady in this story at Wag the Dog.

Make sure you read the whole story there to understand just how scary this is.

She has a one-and-a-half-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix and a four-month-old hound mix, but according to Animal Control, she has PIT BULLS!!!

She now has to hire a lawyer and go to court to fight provincial charges against her (with the potential of up to $10,000 in fines and up to six months in jail) and to fight SPCA requests for destruction of her dogs!

Her dogs are not at her house right now, just to make sure that they don’t get confiscated and killed by the SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS!

The dogs have never threatened anyone, have never bitten anyone, and have been loved and played with by all of the apartment complex children.

This, my friends, is what the McGuinty Ontario Liberals have done to your average dog owner.

Vote for someone else on October 10.

Don’t let these guys kill more dogs and destroy more dog owners’ lives.


Important data for Ontario residents

Wag the Dog has published some very important data related to the upcoming Ontario election.

The first tells you how all Members of Provincial Parliament voted on Bill 132 (the Dog Owners’ Liability Act), a piece of legislation that has caused the deaths of thousands of dogs and violated the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of Canadian citizens.

If your MPP voted in favour of Bill 132 (or failed to vote), feel free to drop in to their constituency office and explain to them why you won’t be voting for them on October 10.

The second article shows which of the current 107 Ontario ridings were most closely contested in the 2003 election (usually between the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives). 38 of the 107 ridings had two parties separated by less than 10% of the vote.

For anyone in these ridings (or anyone who wants to travel to them), effective lawn signs and literature in vets’ offices and pet stores could make a difference enough to swing the vote away from the Liberals.

Click here to see how your MPP voted on Bill 132.

Click here to see a list of the current 107 ridings and who won them vs who came in second in 2003.

How will you shout from your lawn or your car?

Recently, some dog legislation group members were talking about slogans to put on lawn signs, bumper stickers, dog jackets, window decals, etc, against the Ontario Liberal party and in favour of one of the other major parties (PC Progressive Conservatives or NDP New Democratic Party).

Here are just a few of the suggestions.


















































For those of you who aren’t in Ontario and may not completely understand some of the comments, here are some pointers:

The Ontario Liberal Party is the current government of the province of Ontario, Canada and is the party that implemented a province-wide breed ban and additional legislation that violates not only dog owners’ rights, but human rights in general.

Dalton McGuinty is the leader of this party. Michael Bryant is the Attorney General of the government and was the media face of this legislation.

The Progressive Conservatives (PC) are the conservative alternative and are the most serious challenge to the current Liberal government.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) are the left alternative.

MPP’s call for police investigation of McGuinty’s government

As if we didn’t already have enough reasons to vote the Ontario Liberal government out of office, here’s another.


Niagara Centre

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2007

PC AND NDP MPP’s call for police investigation of “slushgate”

(Toronto) – Progressive Conservative and New Democratic MPP’s joined forces today to call for a police investigation into a scandal involving $32 million in grants to multicultural groups by the McGuinty Liberal government.

Bob Runciman (MPP Leeds-Grenville), a former Solicitor General and Peter Kormos (MPP Niagara Centre), a former criminal defence lawyer, released a letter to Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant requesting a police investigation into “financial misconduct” by political officials in the distribution of “highly questionable” grants made at the fiscal year end over the last two years.

In late July, Ontario’s Auditor General released a review of the decision-making process used in the distribution of grants. His findings and scathing criticism detailing the lack of control and transparency as the money was doled out, led to the resignation of Citizenship Minister Mike Colle.

“The Auditor’s report left a basketful of unanswered questions, many beyond the Auditor’s purview to investigate and some raising issues of criminality” asserted Runciman.

“The Auditor’s report was not an investigation of civil or criminal wrongdoing rather it was a quick and narrowly scoped review that confirmed financial misconduct” said Kormos. “We still have no answers for why the misconduct occurred and how these improper benefits were sought or bestowed.”

In calling for the police investigation the veteran MPPs’ argue, citing various sections of the Criminal Code, that criminal misconduct remains a potential explanation for the actions in question and the citizens of Ontario have a right to answers.

“The Auditor General did his job, now it’s time to get to the bottom of this by having the police investigate” said Runciman.

“It’s over to Mr. Bryant to do his job” added Kormos.


Bob Runciman (416) 325-1522
Peter Kormos (416) 325-7106

State of the Province


Preferably, you will send them the link to this article, but this is important enough that, if you need to copy/paste the text, feel free.

The direct link to this article is:


August 29, 2007 was the two-year anniversary of Ontario’s Bill 132 (usually known as the “pit bull” ban).

What has happened in Ontario during those two years?

Two people in this province (including a one and a half year old child) have been killed by dogs, none by “pit bull” type dogs.

Almost without exception, the mainstream media organizations, when notified of serious attacks on people and on animals by other types of dogs, have responded with a mind-boggling lack of interest.

Not a “pit bull”? Not interested. Thank you for your call.

Michael Bryant, the Attorney General of Ontario and the political architect of this law, has been on television telling people that attacks by pit bulls have been reduced and that Ontarians are now safer than ever before. Funny that the most expert, most knowledgeable, and most connected people in the province can’t find any information to prove the truth of that statement. Even a brief investigation into municipal bite statistics reveals that, in most cases, the specific data required to make that type of statement doesn’t exist or is incomplete or inaccurate.

In this province, over the past two years, authorities have targeted, threatened, and confiscated a staggering number of dogs of many breeds and types. Here is just a short list:

Seven-week-old mixed-breed puppies
American Bulldog
Bull Terrier
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Collie/Jack Russell mix
Dogue de Bordeaux
Hungarian Vizla
Jack Russell Terrier cross
Labrador Retriever
Neapolitan mastiff
Rhodesian Ridgeback

A record number of dogs of all shapes and sizes have been confiscated and killed in this province over the past two years, all accused of being “pit bulls”. An unknown, unidentifiable, non-existent “breed” has somehow managed to be regularly and frequently identified by unqualified, untrained personnel and, because of the way the law is written, once that unqualified, often biased, person has identified your dog as a “pit bull”, the chance of you ever seeing your dog again is pretty well nil.

Many of these confiscations have occurred without proof of wrongdoing, without warrants, through the use of threats and intimidation. Owners have been threatened with arrest, with imprisonment, with inappropriate use-of-force, and with the removal of other pets in the house if they don’t surrender the particular dogs in question. Police officers have been encouraged to shoot loose-running dogs on sight, regardless of breed (although short, stocky dogs are definitely more at risk) and regardless of the actions or temperaments of the dogs.

In this province, it’s starting to feel like dogs of any breed have become the new targets for police officers’ shooting practice. Of course that’s an exaggeration, but there is definitely a trend towards a “shoot first, offer cookie later” approach.

Ontario TV shows, radio shows, and newspaper articles have categorized ALL “pit bull” owners in the province as moronic, dangerous, and irresponsible, as gangsters, criminals, and macho thugs. Many have added owners of other breeds to this list as well.

These uninformed and hate-filled opinions have created a “climate of fear”, not just toward the dogs, but also toward their owners. They have legitimized and, in some cases, encouraged vigilantism against an identifiable group of law-abiding, responsible citizens.

Dog owners have been assaulted, threatened, spat upon, had bottles thrown at them. Their dogs have been kicked, burned with cigarettes, threatened with death, doused with scalding hot coffee.

Dog owners are being forced, through various cities’ extreme and draconian restrictions, to choose between their residence and their pet. Those who can’t leave because of family, mortgages, or jobs are forced to give up their dogs. Dogs are being dropped off, often abandoned, at local shelters in record numbers. The “humane” solution that Michael Bryant proposed is causing the deaths of hundreds of dogs each and every day.

People have lost their houses, their jobs, their friends, and even their families because of the shape of their dog’s head. Neighbourhood children are no longer allowed to play with the dog owners’ children. Neighbours refuse to even say hello and, in many cases, call the police or animal control over minor or even untrue complaints.

The type of dog a person owns is now becoming an issue in child custody battles.

People are being evicted from rental housing, are unable to obtain rental housing, cannot buy condominiums, and cannot get tenant’s or homeowner’s liability insurance. Falsified complaints of bites, attempted bites, and menacing behaviour are made by groups of tenants who band together to rid their building of dogs that they think might be “pit bulls”.

Many dog owners have resorted to walking their dogs in remote areas or late at night to avoid becoming targets. Many more simply use their backyards to exercise their dogs. These attempts to keep themselves and their dogs safe often result in behavioural problems that did not exist previously, due to lack of socialization, training, and simple daily exposure to people, animals, places, and situations.

It is now illegal for hundreds of thousands of Canadian dog owners to vacation with their dogs in Ontario or even to pass through the province when travelling from one part of the country to another. Visitors from the United States and other countries are now advised on travel websites to avoid Ontario if they own a dog, regardless of breed, due to the serious misidentification problems and the reverse-onus provisions of the law (i.e., you have to PROVE the breed of your dog, a scientific impossibility).

Tourism has suffered. Dog shows, flyball and agility competitions, camping trips, and family visits have been cancelled or seriously impacted because of this legislation.

Even municipalities that disagree with this type of breed-specific legislation are now burdened with the additional (and not insignificant) costs of enforcing an unenforceable law. Many of them have seen an increase in the number of calls from uninformed, paranoid residents about neighbouring “pit bulls” with each call requiring an officer to drive out, investigate, identify (or not), report, follow up, and possibly charge and prosecute.

Those municipalities with overzealous, biased animal control personnel now find themselves mired in unparalleled numbers of court cases. All of this is at the expense of taxpayers. Thanks to the parroting of government press releases by the mainstream media and the blind use of sound bites from government press conferences, many members of the public actually think that this McGuinty Liberal government is protecting them and their children.

In Ontario, there are at least 2.3 million dogs, probably more. There are, at last count, about 4.5 million families. So, on average, there is one dog for every two families in the province. Admittedly, some people have more than one dog, but the number of dog owners in Ontario is still hugely significant.

Dog owners are one of the largest demographics in the province. And the vast majority of dog owners do NOT agree with this law.

They do not agree with killing unoffending, well-behaved dogs simply because of the way they look. They do not agree with the confiscation and destruction of newborn puppies. They do not agree with the legislated persecution of law-abiding, responsible citizens who have done nothing except pick the wrong dog to love.

Many, many voters, both dog owners and people without dogs in their families, have recognized this as a purely political move, designed to give the uninformed public the impression of action and protection. With a little common sense and a basic understanding of human rights, they see it as a way for this government to circumvent the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by allowing unreasonable search and seizure, by discriminating against a specific, identifiable group of citizens, and by threatening or actually imposing upon those citizens hefty fines, confiscation of property, and imprisonment because of a vague definition that is arbitrarily enforced.

In a number of court cases in Ontario, the provincial Attorney General’s office has intervened in municipal prosecutions of dog owners to make sure they secure convictions in as many “pit bull” cases as possible. Dog owners, unaware of the law, perhaps unable to afford lawyers, unsure as to how to proceed, find themselves in court against the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, against the same government lawyers that defended the government against a constitutional challenge from one of the best civil rights lawyers in the country. What chance can these dog owners possibly have?

This Ontario Liberal government has shown us time and time again that they are more than willing to sacrifice whomever and whatever to appear to increase public safety, without ever bothering to check the facts or listen to the experts.

If this government had been even remotely concerned about public safety, instead of getting in the right sound bite for the evening news, they would have taken the advice of the opposing parties and, even more so, the advice of the experts who testified in front of them and the experts who produced recommendations from two coroners’ inquests.

Every single credible expert and animal-related organization, including experts in legislation, dog behaviour, and bite prevention, told the government not to do this. Michael Bryant publicly stated that he would listen to the experts, but when every single expert told him it was a bad idea, not only did the Liberals press ahead with the law, but they actually made amendments to it to make it worse than it was originally, then they forced a “whipped vote” in the legislature, after Dalton McGuinty publicly stated that he would allow his members to vote their conscience in every matter not related to the budget.

In early 2005, prior to the four latest deaths by dogs in Canada (none by “pit bulls”), the Ontario Liberals were asked repeatedly to fund a provincial dog bite prevention and education program.

They refused.

They were asked to implement a provincial responsible dog ownership program.

They refused.

They were asked to create a provincial dog bite registry.

They refused.

They were asked to provide municipalities with appropriate funding to ensure effective animal bylaw enforcement.

They refused.

All of these requests were based on recommendations from the coroner’s inquest into the death of eight-year-old Courtney Trempe in 1998. All of these recommendations came from experts in dog breeding, behaviour, and bite prevention.

Instead, the government decided to ban a vague, non-existent shape of dog that barely registers in most dog bite statistics, simply to score political points. Their changes to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act had nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with politics.

The way the law is written right now, it is entirely possible and conceivable for the following things to happen:

a) Police can enter my home, seize my dog, kill it, and put me in jail because of the shape of my dog’s head or because of the particular type of dog that I choose to live with. This is not about “pit bulls”. We have documented many instances where dogs of other breeds have been identified as pit bulls and have been confiscated or the owners have been put through hell trying to save their dogs. There are at least 30 different purebred breeds of dogs that “look like” the dogs that the Liberals are supposedly targeting.

b) Police can enter my home, seize my dog, kill it, and put me in jail if someone feels threatened by my dog or even if they feel that their own animal is threatened by my dog, even if my dog is on my own property. A neighbour who doesn’t like me can easily cause my dog to be confiscated. This last section has nothing to do with breed. Every dog owner in this province is affected by this portion of the law.

This law has been used to force therapy dogs and service dogs to be muzzled. It has been used to identify seven-week-old puppies as being a “menace to public safety”. Since this law has been enacted, three children and one adult have died in Canada, two in Ontario, all killed by dogs that were not “pit bulls”. These past two years have been record years for dogs killing people and not once was a “pit bull” involved. How is public safety being enhanced?

So what is the solution?

Since we have made all possible attempts to negotiate and communicate with the current Liberal government and since we have been rebuffed at every turn, we are left with only two things to do:

1. Take them to court.
2. Vote them out of office.

We have taken them to court. The judge found that various portions of the law violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but left the rest of the law as is.

In order to continue this fight, the Dog Legislation Council of Canada needs funds. Your rights as a dog owner are at risk, regardless of the type of dog you own. The DLCC is fighting for those rights. If you don’t want to see the erosion and removal of the rights of all dog owners in this province (including yourself), then you need to help. Don’t just say thanks. Don’t just say to yourself, “what a great job they’re doing” or “at least somebody’s fighting this stupid law”. Put some money toward this fight. Ten dollars, a hundred dollars, or a thousand. Do something.

Visit http://www.dlcc.ca/ for more details.

Now, to the second option.

Most experts in the fields of dog bites and dog legislation feel that this government, if voted back into office, will target additional breeds or will use the existing law and its vague definitions to go after all sorts of dogs.

Even without further changes, only half of the existing law usually known as the “pit bull ban” actually targets “pit bulls”. There are some significant and scary portions of this law that already target all dogs, regardless of breed or type, including public seizure and warrantless entry into homes. The six months in jail and $10,000 fine doesn’t just apply to “pit bull” owners. Neither does the ability to seize any dog based on unproven complaints.

This government, along with certain municipalities that seem to have been encouraged and supported by the Attorney General’s office, seems to be comprised of either out-and-out dog-haters or of spineless “yes men” (and women) who aren’t willing to risk their political career in the Ontario Liberal Party in order to stand up for the province’s dog owners.

Experts agree that, in the next two years, we will probably see additional changes to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act that will make the current one seem mild.

We CANNOT allow this government to remain in office.

The other two major political parties in Ontario (Progressive Conservative and New Democrats) have said publicly and privately that they disagree with this law and that they would like to see it replaced with strict, no-nonsense legislation that targets the behaviour of irresponsible owners.

Unlike the current legislation introduced by the McGuinty government, the approach suggested by the other parties has been proven to reduce dog bites.

While we wait for further decisions in higher courts, we MUST vote this government out of office on October 10.

If you are a dog owner, get out and vote. I don’t care if you’ve never done it before. I don’t care if you even know how to do it.

Call 1-888-668-8683, tell them where you live, and ask them to explain everything to you.

If you’re not on the voters list, go to the Ontario Elections website to see what ID you need to just show up and vote. The link is:


It’s not hard, really.

If you really want to make a difference, vote strategically.

Find out who is your current Member of Provincial Parliament.

Use the Ontario Elections website to type in your postal code and find your electoral district. The link is:


Then go to the Ontario Legislature website and find your district in the list on the right. The link is:


Then click the member’s name on the left to find out if they’re Liberal, Conservative, or NDP.

If your current MPP is not Liberal, then vote for that same party again. The party previously elected in your riding is the most likely one to win again there.

If your current MPP is Liberal, then you can view the previous election at the Ontario Elections website. The link is:


If your riding was in a by-election since 2003, then check out the by-election results. Otherwise, look at the 2003 General Election results (Summary of Valid Ballots Cast for Each Candidate).

See which party was closest in votes below the winner and vote for that party.

Of course, you have to vote your conscience. If your political beliefs don’t allow you to vote for Conservative, then vote NDP. Or vice versa.

Just don’t vote Liberal.

Not if you love your dog and you care about your rights as a dog owner and as a Canadian citizen.

Because it’s glaringly obvious that they sure as hell don’t.

Most politicians don’t know why dogs bite

I recognize that some people encourage human aggression in their dogs, including training them to intimidate or attack people.

I recognize that some people encourage dog aggression in their dogs, including training them to fight each other.

I recognize that some people allow their dogs to run loose or escape and thus create fear in their neighbourhoods.

I recognize that some dogs are owned by drug dealers, thugs, and gangsters and are used for protection or intimidation.

I recognize that, in some parts of North America, there may be a dog overpopulation problem, although I’m not convinced that it is the epidemic that it’s often made out to be.

Each of these is a problem and needs to be solved.

It is important to remember, however, that NONE of the above issues are the primary cause of dog bites and, as such, solutions to the above problems should not be touted as being implemented in order to reduce dog bites. They have nothing at all to do with dog bites.

Yes, we need to prevent people from overbreeding their pets, fighting them, using them as weapons, allowing them to run loose, etc. And we should have programs that target those specific problems.

But don’t list the above reasons when you’re trying to reduce dog bites.

Look instead at the statistics from the Center for Disease Control, from the Canadian CHIRPP program, and from the Canada Safety Council. They all clearly show that the vast majority of dog bites (including those that cause death or serious injury) are perpetrated by the family dog to the family child in the family home or a neighbour’s home or a relative’s home.

These were generally NORMAL dogs in NORMAL families, placed into stressful situations. These situations may have included children pressuring the dogs (such as riding, hugging, pulling tails or ears), resource guarding, pack hunting or defence behaviour (in a very few cases), territorial defence, and other behaviours that the dogs may have seen as entirely appropriate and normal.

I am certainly not defending the dogs in every situation, because a well-bred and/or well-socialized dog shouldn’t fall into a default behaviour of all-out aggression when pressured. But many of these incidents were, and are, the result of normal dog behaviour.

The failure in almost every situation resulted from the lack of awareness of dog-child interaction by the dog owner, the parent, or both. Lack of knowledge, lack of experience, lack of supervision, lack of training (of both child and dog), lack of common sense.

Unfortunately, because 99 (or more) out of 100 times, a dog will endure such stresses without biting, many families become complacent. “Rover is used to Johnny” or “Rover knows that Johnny is just playing” become mantras, until the day that Rover decides to teach Johnny a lesson.

My own dogs have permanent marks on them from one getting tired of the other being a pest or from one trying to take the other’s bone or from any one of myriad other possible “argument causers”.

With dogs, that’s part of life. However, those same teeth, when used on a human child’s skin, may sometimes cause permanent, disfiguring injury.

Parents and dog owners need to be more aware of this, primarily through education.

But legislating things like breed banning and mandatory spay/neuter are not going to reduce dog bites. They may reduce the number of dogs of a popular breed or, in the case of mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs, they will reduce the population of all dogs. But they don’t target the reasons why bites occur.

Some of the people who implement these programs may have their hearts in the right place, but they’re not using their heads.

Even laudable programs that target animal abuse, dogfighting, and loose-running dogs are still not going to reduce dog bites because they’re not looking at the real issue, which is dogs and kids not being managed properly together.

All the laws that try to micro-manage every dog owner (or, even worse, only owners of certain types of dogs) sound good to the average voter, but they don’t accomplish the STATED OBJECTIVE, which is to reduce dog bites. Instead, they end up simply hurting responsible dog owners and discriminating against people with certain types of dogs (or against all dog owners in general), without taking a single step in the direction of harm reduction.

As I have said in numerous other articles, there is a simple two-part solution to encourage responsible dog ownership:

1. Educate. Similar to the campaigns against drunk driving, speeding, etc, you must get your message to the general public. It must be simple, possibly harsh, and definitely to the point.

2. Punish. When someone is stupid with their dog, either through deliberate misuse of a dog’s capabilities or through negligent inattention, then the punishment should be big. It should be harsh enough that it makes the rest of the dog-owning world sit up and take notice.

As long as dogs and people live together, we will never eliminate dog bites. It is my personal opinion that, in most urban centres, the number of serious, injuring dog bites is about as low as it’s going to get without getting rid of all dogs.

I think there’s some work to do in some of the rural and northern areas of the country, but the cities who have dog legislation in place are basically managing the public actions of dog owners, not what happens inside the home.

Since it’s really difficult (and, in some cases, perhaps even unconstitutional) to legislate the actions inside the home, you will eventually reach a plateau where the only way left to improve the bite ratio is through education.

The number of bites is probably as low as it’s going to get because there will always be be people out there who ignore common sense and screw up what they have out of laziness, ignorance, or malice. This doesn’t just apply to dogs, but dogs are one of those possessions, just like children, that some people shouldn’t have, but are allowed to so that the rest of us can.

If someone is determined to be an idiot, you generally can’t prevent it through legislation. All you can do is let people know the right way to act, let them know the consequences of those actions, and then bring down that hammer when they ignore you and something bad happens.

Finally Ontario’s Attorney General is forced to come clean

Ontario’s Attorney General, Michael Bryant, finally revealed the costs to taxpayers of fighting parents of autistic children for the past seven years, but only after an Ontario Superior Court decision forced him to open the books.

Read the full CBC story

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has requested a similar accounting of the legal costs associated with Ontario’s ill-advised and ultimately doomed dog legislation.

The Attorney General has refused. Click here to read the response to the PC Party from Michael Bryant’s henchman, Stephen Patterson.

This same ministry, headed by the Honourable Michael Bryant, was recently awarded the Code of Silence Award by the Canadian Association of Journalists in recognition of “the most secretive government body in Canada”.

Read more about that award here

Michael, please, it’s time to own up to your responsibilities as a public servant, step out from your hiding place behind “lawyer-client privilege”, and let the taxpayers of Ontario know just how much money has been wasted on creating, enforcing, and defending Bill 132, a law that every expert denounced before its inception, a law that you MUST have been aware was unconstitutional long before you pushed blindly ahead with kangaroo committee hearings and a whipped vote in the Ontario Legislature.

Please, Michael, let us know the costs to each and every Ontario taxpayer for the following things:

1. Press releases and conferences announcing the intent to ban ‘pit bulls’ in Ontario

2. Expenses and honoraria for affidavits and other information solicited from extramural experts in 2004/2005 such as Alan Beck, any private law firms and others in Canada and the US whom the government may have consulted prior to holding Committee Hearings in winter 2005.

3. Public hearings conducted by the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly on January 24, January 27, February 2, February 3, 2005 including:

a) Research costs
b) Supplies including photocopying, paper, postage
c) Travel Expenses for Committee members
d) Any payments made to witnesses at the hearings
d) Venues, audiovisual, computer and other equipment costs
e) All other costs associated with the hearings.

4. Costs associated with preparation of the Report by Committee.

5. Training costs for Animal Control officers in Ontario.

6. Dissemination of notices and other information to the public, educating them about the provisions in the law.

7. Legal Fees:

a) Expert testimony including travel expenses and honoraria for Alan Beck, Tom Skeldon, and any other witness expenses associated with pre-trial examinations
b) Legal fees associated with preparation of the defence, including hourly rate, number of hours spent
c) Research costs relative to the defence including time and materials
d) Legal fees for barristers to present arguments in Ontario Superior Court on May 15, 16 and 18, 2006 and to argue three motions
e) Costs specifically associated with the motion filed in summer 2006 and argued in Superior Court on December 21, 2006 including costs for reports, witness testimony, travel expenses, research costs, lawyer fees (internal and external), courts costs, material costs and any other pertinent expenditures.
f) Any other expenses related to defending the constitutional challenge to the amended Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 2005
g) Fees paid to the Court

8. Any other costs not listed above relative to the matter described.

Is Dalton doing a good job? Have your say.

Angus Reid is conducting an online poll regarding the effectiveness of Dalton McGuinty as current (and soon to be ex) premier of Ontario.

Vote here:



At the time I’m writing this note, 62% had voted No.

I’m really not sure in which province the 38% who voted Yes are living, but I’m stunned that anyone with the capacity for reason and logic could possibly vote anything other than No.

Gotta use that word "pit bull"

Came across this story while reading KC Dog Blog’s weekly roundup. It’s a perfect example of the media’s desperate need to somehow, somewhere, include the word “pit bull” in any story about dog bites.

Two separate incidents in Lubbock TX. Both appear to have involved German Shepherds, including one that caused serious injury to the face of a mail carrier.

In this story about two separate German Shepherd attacks, the newspaper reporter (Eric Finley), for some unknown reason, felt the need to single one incident out of the 19 previous incidents in the city. Which one? The one, and only one, of 21 dangerous dog complaints that involved a “pit bull”.

This had nothing to do with the current story, unless the reporter was willing to take all 19 prior incidents and discuss them all, equally.

In fact, since this report is about a type of dog that typically does not fall under the “pit bull” moniker, and since there is no valid reason to mention the prior story, it appears that this reporter may have an agenda to keep the supposed dangerousness of “pit bulls” in the readers’ minds.

You will notice that there is no further mention of the German Shepherds in this story after the reporter brings up the prior “pit bull” incident.

The last thing the readers are left with, the lingering memory in their minds, is “that pit bull that attacked those two children in Lubbock”, not “that German Shephered that attacked the mail carrier and that other German Shepherd that attacked its neighbour” nor the other 18 incidents that had nothing to do with “pit bulls” and probably nothing to do with German Shepherds.

And for those who may wish to quibble with me about breeds, no, I don’t believe that German Shepherds are more dangerous or should be singled out. Breed is the least important factor in a list of reasons why dogs bite.

I’m just making a point.

Titillation vs. evidence

On July 9, a story broke throughout various news organizations about a two year old boy being sexually assaulted by the family “pit bull” in Lockport NY, near Niagara Falls. I didn’t discuss it here because, frankly, I had serious issues with the story and I wanted to find out more.

My first thought was, “is this even possible?”. Then, even if possible, how can this happen with parents in the house? No screaming from the boy?

Thanks to KC Dog Blog for pointing me to Stinky Journalism, who did their own investigation, talked to their own sources, and debunked a number of the claims made by the mainstream media who, apparently, severely misquoted some sources.

This site, at first glance, seems to be doing a wonderful job of pointing out various media outlets’ misrepresentations, errors, omissions, and outright lies.

Another example is the reporting of the rape and murder of a five year old girl, with at least one media outlet going so far as to insinuate that the family was involved. The final determination was that the girl had accidentally strangled herself on a jump rope in her closet and that there was no rape, at all, whatsoever. Read Stinky Journalism’s own investigation of this story.

Read these two Stinky Journalism articles and you will be amazed at the audacity, desperation, and downright dishonesty of some of the media organizations.

Moral of the story? Don’t believe everything (or even most) of what you read in the newspaper or see on TV. It is getting to the point where even the simplest stories are not even remotely related to the reality of what happened.

Ssshhh, careful what you say

Couldn’t resist reprinting this report from CityNews Toronto.

Apparently, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has issued a “clarification” to airport screening officers because they were taking their job way too seriously and, it appears, arresting passengers who were simply being a little mouthy.

The CATSA has now provided two sample lists of potential statements by passengers to security personnel. The first is a list of those statements that are considered “illegal” and for which you may be arrested, charged, and face jail time. The second is a newer list of statements for which you will be given only a warning.

Some of them are interesting.

Illegal comments:

The person over there is carrying a bomb.

I have a bomb in my bag.

There’s a bomb in the washroom.

The bag I checked in upstairs contains an IED (improvised explosive device).

I am going to set fire to this airplane with this blowtorch.

I’ve got plastic explosives that can blow up this airport.

I’m going to blow up this airplane over the Atlantic.

You better look through my suitcase carefully, because there’s a bomb in there.

Screener: What’s in that bottle? Passenger: Liquid explosives.

The man in seat 32F has a machine gun.

Comments prompting warnings only:

Do you think I have a bomb in my suitcase?

There’s no bomb in my shoe.

What do you think I look like, a terrorist?

Hi Jack!

My gun misfired when I was hunting this weekend.

This security does nothing to stop hijacking.

Your hockey team is going to get bombed tonight!

You don’t need to frisk me, I’m not carrying a weapon.

I wonder into which category I would fall if I yelled, “Stand back! I have a pit bull!”

Screener: “Sir, is that a pit bull in your carry-on? Could you step over here please? SIR, PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE PIT BULL, NOW!”

Subscribing to chicobandido

To subscribe to the chicobandido blog, copy/paste one of the following addresses into your news reader:

Atom: http://chicobandido.blogspot.com/atom.xml

RSS: http://chicobandido.blogspot.com/atom.xml?alt=rss

Subscribing is a term for using a news reader (also called an RSS/Atom reader or a feed reader) that will regularly and frequently check blogs, news websites, etc, and show you their most recent articles, all in one place, so you don’t have to go to each site individually, every day.

Internet Explorer 7 (Windows XP/Vista only) already has a feedreader built into it. A number of online websites such as Google and Yahoo will give you a “home page” on which you can put your most important feeds.

If you want to have a program installed on your computer that collects feeds from all over the Internet and puts them in one spot, one example is FeedReader from www.feedreader.com. I like it and used it a lot in the past, but now I’m using a Google home page with a number of blog and news sites feeding into it.

Once you have determined (and perhaps installed) your preferred news reader, you must set up the various feeds that you want to read.

Each blog or news site in which you’re interested should have an Atom or RSS address (URL) that you simply copy/paste into your news reader setup.

So, on each blog or news site, look for any of the following terminologies:

Atom Feed
News Feed
RDF Feed
RSS Feed
XML Feed

Whatever the address/shortcut/URL is for that phrase, that’s what you’re going to copy/paste into your news reader.

The address will usually end in the letters “xml”, but not always. Better to depend on the terminology used to describe it, such as RSS.

For example, as mentioned at the beginning of this page, to subscribe to the chicobandido blog, copy/paste one of the following addresses into your news reader:

Atom: http://chicobandido.blogspot.com/atom.xml

RSS: http://chicobandido.blogspot.com/atom.xml?alt=rss

Note that, if you simply click on the link, without right-clicking and copying the shortcut or without copy/pasting the shortcut, you may end up with what looks like a lot of garbage. These pages are not designed to be readable in your average web browser and, even if you can read them (as in Windows XP), they won’t send you new information each and every day unless you actually set them up in your news reader.

Letter to all Ontario voters

The following is a message written by Jamie MacDonald on Facebook’s “Help Elect Chris Savard” Discussion Board.

Chris Savard is the Progressive Conservative candidate for Stormont, Dundas & South Glengarry in the 2007 Ontario election.

For more interesting and insightful comments by Jamie, please visit Mac’s website at http://jmacd.bravehost.com/

Here’s Jamie’s message, reprinted with permission from the author.

I would be interested in knowing if there are people in the riding that have been impacted by the implementation of Bill 132 (DOLA) or as it’s known by the public at large (the “pit bull” ban).

This Bill deprived a select group of Ontario citizens of their Charter Rights.

We were subject to jail time, fines, unwarranted search and seizure and all of this without due process of law which is accorded to every other Canadian citizen.

A recent Superior Court Decision – “Cochrane v. Ontario” (You can google this if you’re interested) has given us back most of our rights.

The Judge ruled that the Ontario Liberals violated Section 7 and 11d of the Charter, she struck down “reverse onus” and declared “Pitbull includes” and the term “Pitbull” terrier as vague and Unconsitutional, as there is no such breed of dog as a “Pitbull”.

She did uphold the constitutionality of the language of naming a purebred dog (or a dog that is substantially similar – Crown must prove this) as it can readily be identified.

So watch out Chow, Doberman, Akita, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, etc owners. (And the list could get longer.)

A remedy hearing was held on June 28 in the Superior Court of Ontario for the judge to decide the remedy. (What do we do, now that the Bill is in shambles and they’ve wasted all this money)

You can read the summary of the hearing here (This is a summary by a very involved party who was present). We are hoping to have a ruling prior to the election.

If you’re a farmer or a Senior or someone else in the riding, you may be reading this post and saying to yourselves – Who cares? Nothing to do with me, I hate this imaginary “breed”, good riddance!

Well here’s just a couple of reasons why you should care.

First of all there is the cost to taxpayers of all the time spent in the legislature debating this Bill and talking about a non-existent breed of dog, then there was the cost to taxpayers of the committee hearings. I believe it was 4 days!

Experts testified for the dogs, told the Liberals don’t do it. Here is how you deal with dangerous dogs of any and all breeds and imaginary breeds. Liberals wouldn’t listen (surprise, surprise) and proceeded with their agenda (some of us would call it a smokescreen to divert your attention away from some of their other little messes.)

So it was implemented.

We (Bannedaid) and supporters took them to court and won the majority of the case.
Now here is the interesting part for all taxpayers in Ontario!

Our legal fees have topped 1/2 million.

So we (Bannedaid) and supporters thought the public (You) might like to know how much you donated?? to this case and the defense of Bill 132 in court.

So the PC caucus filed a request for costs under the freedom of Information Act.

Well guess what?

Dalton McGuinty doesn’t wish to tell you how much you donated?? and he doesn’t think you have a right to know.

You can read the refusal letter here.

So to all farmers, to all Seniors, to all those who have loved ones in Nursing homes in the riding (who are probably getting 1 bath/week), if you want to know why Mr McGuinty has no money to help you,look no further than here

He and Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant have just spent millions???? (Who knows?) protecting you from this dog and others just like him.

And by the way, if you see me walking him, honk to show your support or stop and say hi, he hasn’t eaten anyone lately, loves everyone, Liberals (not so sure anymore).

I don’t know about you, but I’m ticked off!

I want to know how much they spent and I want them to spend my money on Dog education programs in schools, Dog Education ads on TV and implement other ideas that were given to them at the hearings by the real experts on dogs. Michael Bryant couldn’t even pick out a purebred American Pit Bull Terrier from a gallery of 24 other purebred dogs. One of the dogs was a Jack Russell Terrier!

Do you want this guy dealing with gun toting felons, pedophiles, street racers etc in this province?

Forget about the FLICKING TV Ads Mr McGuinty.

I know how to shut my damn lights off!!

My dog and I will be telling you to FLICK OFF on October 10. I hope other dog owners will join me! Our dogs vote!!!! Remember that Dalton! (If you’re reading this and I’m sure you are)

Mr Tory, if you’re reading this, you have to make this an issue, tell the public about the refusal and tell dog owners in this province that you oppose Bill 132, you oppose Breed Specific Legislation and you will get rid of it when elected.


Mr Tory, I’m waiting.

I support Chris Savard.

Can I support you and this party?

I promise my next post will be a lot shorter.

Please visit Mac and show your support for all Ontario citizens (even the owners of “Pit bulls”).

Vote for Jasmine and show support for Ontario’s banned dogs

Jasmine is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier owned by a member of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada. Her breed is banned in Ontario. Her owner has entered her in the Canadian “Pet Idol” contest and she has consistently been in the lead since the beginning!

If Jasmine wins this contest, not only will this be good PR for dogs unfairly targeted by discriminatory legislation, but her owner will donate half the money prize to Bullies in Need Rescue and the other half to Banned Aid to help with the Ontario legal challenge.

Please show your support for Jasmine by voting at http://www.petidol.ca/vote_756.pet

Each unique e-mail address can vote once in a 24-hour period. As soon as you have voted with an e-mail address, you will receive a message in your Inbox. You must click on the link in that message to confirm your vote, otherwise it will not be counted.

The rules specifically state that you can use more than one e-mail address, so if you have work, personal, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, and other addresses, feel free to use them all to boost the voting.

Voting ends on July 19 at 11:59:59 PM.

Please vote every 24 hours to keep Jasmine in the lead. Some of the other dogs are catching up to her, so every vote counts!

Eulogy on the dog

One of the best quotations I’ve ever read regarding dog’s devotion to its owner.

Courtesy of bartleby.com


Gentlemen of the jury, the best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter whom he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us — those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name — may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world — the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous — is his dog.

Gentlemen of the jury, a man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that had no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.


GEORGE GRAHAM VEST, “Eulogy on the Dog,” speech during lawsuit, 1870. — Congressional Record, October 16, 1914, vol. 51, Appendix, pp. 1235–36.

A foxhound named Drum “was known far and near as one of the fastest and least uncertain of hunting dogs.” He was shot and his owner sued for damages, $150 being the maximum allowed. The case started before a Justice of the Peace, was appealed to another court and transferred to another. It was in the final trial, in the State Circuit Court at Warrensburg, Missouri, that Vest made his speech, the peroration of which is above.

According to the recollection of Thomas T. Crittenden, counsel for the defendant and later governor of Missouri, Vest made no reference to the evidence but confined himself to a tribute to canine affection and fidelity. “He seemed to recall from history all the instances where dogs had displayed intelligence and fidelity to man. He quoted more lines of history and poetry about them than I had supposed had been written … It was as perfect a piece of oratory as ever was heard from pulpit or bar. Court, jury, lawyers, and audience were entranced. I looked at the jury and saw all were in tears.” — Gustav Kobbe, A Tribute to the Dog, pp. 9–18 (1911).

According to John F. Phillips, former law partner of Vest and a member of the House of Representatives, whose comments appear in the Congressional Record with the eulogy on the dog, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $500, far more than the sum sued for. The excess was remitted. Vest was elected to the Senate eight years later and served 1879–1904.

Welsh Corgi mix identified as "pit bull" and destroyed

My apologies in advance to the Peterborough Examiner. I’m copying the full text of this article from their online newspaper. Unfortunately, these stories have a habit of disappearing into the “archives” and this is one I don’t want us to forget.

The original story can be found here, at least for as long as they keep it on their website.

This article was written by Lynn Reynolds, a dog breeder and trainer who has been directly involved with the case.

Printed from www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com web site Tuesday, July 10, 2007 – © 2007 Peterborough Examiner

Great dog, ugly label


Monday, July 09, 2007 – 00:00

Editorial – Re “First pit bull euthanized under new provincial law” (June 29) –

Ziggy was a friendly, happy, tail-wagging, glad-to-be-hugged little dog with a very ugly label attached to her – “pit-bull cross.” This label was given to her by a system which cannot prove that that is what she was. It took only one or two individuals to attach that label to her. She could, however, be proven to be a Welsh corgi cross. DNA testing could have eliminated the doubt about her lineage, but that was not allowed to be done.

This little dog had harmed no one. Her only offense: she accidentally got out of the home where she was loved and cherished, and she supposedly “looked like a pit-bull” (which according to a ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal, is “unconstitutionally vague as there is no such breed”).

The “breed specific legislation” was rushed into being with little thought to its consequences, and with a great deal of protest from the dog-related community and concerned individuals, which is ongoing as I write this. Where are the people who enacted this law? They certainly weren’t there to witness the killing of this innocent creature and the agony of those who had to do it. Nor were they here to witness the tears of the many people who have been involved with this dear dog over the many months of her incarceration.

Where are these lawmakers as the young women who owned the dog faces huge costs incurred for the incarceration and court proceedings? If this dog had been correctly labeled the “corgi-cross” that she definitely was, her owner would have faced a fine and the dog would have gone home, probably the same day she was picked up. As it is, her body lies waiting to be buried, not even able to be claimed until all costs are paid.

This young women, and her dog, and those forced into upholding this law are all victims: victims of a system which refuses to listen to the many protests against this unfair and uncompromising law. How many other dogs have already been unjustly sentenced to death and killed under this law? Many are sitting on “death row” right now! How many more people are going to be devastated emotionally and financially by this ill-designed law?

This is not a protest about “biters” and aggressive dogs being destroyed. It’s for the dogs who are being mislabeled and destroyed for no valid reason. Why are these unfortunate dogs not even allowed to be assessed and temperament-tested by a panel of knowledgeable professional trainers?

Which breed of dog will be harassed and/or banned next? Could it be mine?

To label an entire breed as dangerous because a few poorly-bred, untrained, improperly socialized dogs cause problems is like labeling all human individuals within a specific ethnic group as lazy or violent.

Caring, responsible dog owners must continue to speak out against this unjust “breed specific legislation” to the members of our provincial government. Justice was certainly not done for those involved in this travesty. We couldn’t save Ziggy. Let’s pray we might be able to help the next ones in line awaiting the same fate.

Lynn Reynolds has been showing, breeding and training dogs since 1979. She became involved in Ziggy’s case when she was asked to pray for those devastated by the event.


Judge does not rule on the remedy for Ontario’s Dog Owners’ Liability Act

On June 28, 2007, Justice Herman listened to arguments regarding the remedy for the Dog Owners’ Liability Act. The purpose of the remedy is to determine what to do with the law, now that three portions of it were found to be unconstitutional.

This is my interpretation of what occurred in the courtroom.

I apologize for the late report. This is the first chance I’ve had to get to a computer.

There were approximately 50 people in a courtroom designed to hold perhaps 20, so a lot of chairs had to be grabbed from offices and other courtrooms.

Present for the Applicant’s side (us) were Clayton Ruby and Carolyn Wawzonek. Clayton Ruby did all the talking for us.

Present for the Respondent’s side (them) were Robert Charney, Michael Doi, and Zachary Green (the usual three), along with another gentleman who I did not recognize. Robert Charney did all the talking for them.

Mr. Ruby went first at about 10:20 and talked for about an hour and fifteen minutes. We took a break, then Mr. Charney talked for just over an hour. Then Mr. Ruby responded, they had some further discussions about costs, and we were done around 1:30.

To get the bad news out of the way first, the judge did NOT make any decision today. There were a number of written submissions, as well as the verbal arguments presented today, and based on the amount of notes and highlighting she was doing, she’s got some reading to do before she can make a judgment.

So for now, the law stands as is. It is important to note that, even though she has found parts of the law unconstitutional, until she rules on the remedy (which I’ll explain in a minute), the law has not changed from its original form.

I personally am choosing to continue to act now in the same way that I have done since the law was enacted, until I know for sure what is going to be taken out and what is going to be left in.

Both sides presented their submissions regarding costs (i.e., who pays for the lawyers and court costs and how much of the costs is each party responsible for). This was done in writing and the judge will consider these while she is making her decision about the whole thing.

This remedy, as it’s called, is necessary because of section 52 of the Constitution Act of Canada, 1982. Section 52 states:

“The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect.”

Therefore, it is clear that the following three sections of the Dog Owners’ Liability Act are of no force or effect, since the judge found them unconstitutional:

a) Section 1(1) – The phrase “pit bull includes:”;

b) Section 1(1) – The phrase “pit bull terrier”;

c) Section 19(1) – The requirement that the court accept that a dog is a “pit bull” based on a document from a veterinarian.

The first two were found unconstitutional because the judge felt they were vague. The last was found unconstitutional because it placed a significant evidentiary burden on the defence for the sole purpose of being convenient for the prosecution. This, if I understand it, was a violation of the principles of fundamental justice.

This is all just preamble from me to explain some of Mr. Ruby’s arguments.


Mr. Ruby proceeded to list the three questions that the judge has to answer regarding this now partially constitutional law:

1. Is the law, with the unconstitutional parts removed, consistent with the original objective of the legislature?

2. Can the law stand alone with the unconstitutional parts removed (i.e., is it still understandable and enforceable)?

3. Should it be suspended while the remedy is being determined?

It seemed that both sides agreed on question 3, presumably that it did not need to be suspended.

Mr. Ruby’s primary argument, and the area where he spent the most time, was the removal of the phrase “pit bull terrier”. His argument is that “pit bull terrier” was one of five clauses designed by the legislature, confirmed by the committee, and accepted by the legislature and that it was an essential element of the law. Now that it is no longer there, the very substance, the core, of the legislation has changed dramatically. This entire legislation, at least the breed-specific portion, depends on the definition of “pit bull” and, if the judge is choosing to throw out a piece of that definition, then she cannot just take the rest and say, “well, the legislature would have been okay with this new definition”. It is not her job to read the legislature’s mind.

Also, Mr. Ruby argued that, because the initial intent of the legislature was to go after all “pit bulls” (as Peter Kormos put it during the committee hearings, the “small p” pit bulls, the mixed breed, backyard bred mutts), the legislature never intended to go after ONLY the purebreds.

The legislature had determined that there was a reasoned apprehension of harm from “pit bulls”, yet they did not specify percentages or proportions regarding how many attacks could be attributed to dogs within each of the five clauses individually. So they didn’t say how many American Staffordshire Terriers had been responsible for attacks vs. how many “pit bull terriers” had been responsible.

Because they didn’t do this (and they couldn’t), it is entirely conceivable that the vast majority of those attacks (as perceived by the legislature) could have been from the dogs in the group “pit bull terrier”. So, by removing that phrase, the judge could possibly be removing from the law most of the dogs that were the problem, leaving only the purebreds who, by all accounts, could only have been responsible for a “vanishingly small” number of incidents, if any.

Mr. Ruby argued that it is not the judge’s place to so drastically change the scope of the law’s targets. It is the legislature’s responsibility and, as such, the law should be handed back to the legislature to redefine their targets. In other words, the whole law should be thrown out.

In addition, when given the opportunity, the legislature chose not to remove the phrase “pit bull terrier” from the definition. So, if the judge is now removing that phrase, how can she know what the legislature’s preference would have been if they had known ahead of time that “pit bull terrier” couldn’t be used? Again, neither she nor the government lawyers can pretend to represent the will of the legislature.

Mr. Ruby’s main argument is that the Dog Owners’ Liability Act is a single comprehensive scheme with a shared definition (i.e., a definition with multiple components that is needed throughout the rest of the law) and shared goals. You cannot simply change the definition with affecting the rest of the law. There is no evidence as to what the legislature would have written into the law had it been forced to not use (or forced to redefine) “pit bull terrier”.

Regarding section 19, which is now invalid, this means that, in order to prove their case that a dog is a “pit bull”, the government must now bring in an expert witness (likely, but not absolutely, a veterinarian). Due to the expert witness fees charged, this will substantially increase the cost of each and every prosecution, of which there may be thousands. This violates another principle stated by the court in one of the precedent cases, that the changes made by the judge in order to keep a law constitutional must not have a significant budgetary impact on the government.

A good quote from Clayton Ruby: “It is not for this court to pick apart this scheme and put it back together”.

There was a lot of talk about “reading in”, “striking out”, and “reading down”, so I think I’ll quickly explain these:

“Reading in” is the practice whereby a constitutional judge will add words to the law to make it constitutional. The net effect of these new words may be to include something that was not included before or to exclude something that was included before.

“Striking out” or “striking down” is the practice of removing the unconstitutional words from the law. Again, the net effect could be to include something that was not previously covered by the law or to exclude something that was previously covered by the law.

“Reading down” is to change the wording or to more narrowly interpret the existing wording in order to make the law less broad (i.e., make it constitutional).

Based on prior comments from other Superior and Supreme Court decisions, Mr. Ruby argued that you should only “read in” in areas where the law is SUBSTANTIALLY constitutional and PERIPHERALLY problematic. In other words, if the law is basically sound, but has a few minor technical problems that don’t fit with the constitution, you may be able to “read in” additional words to better define those minor areas without substantially changing the effect or purpose of the law.

Mr. Ruby argued that, because the law depends so heavily on the definition of “pit bull”, including “pit bull terrier”, that it is not substantially constitutional, but on the contrary, because it is a single scheme with a shared definition, any problem with the definition creates a problem throughout the rest of the law.

The other major issue was the phrase “pit bull includes:”. Note that the judge did not find the word “includes” vague in and of itself, but rather the entire phrase “pit bull includes:”, because, she said, there is no generally accepted definition of “pit bull”, so the word “includes” becomes very important.

The government says that the word “includes” is exhaustive (i.e., the list of things that follow are the ONLY things that can be pit bulls). Mr. Ruby says that it is inclusive (i.e., yes, the things listed are pit bulls, but maybe other things could be too, and nobody knows for sure). This may seem like semantics, but it is very important because, if the interpretation is that the list is “closed” (can’t possibly include anything else), then the phrase “pit bull includes” could remain constitutional, but if the interpretation is that the list is “open ended” (may possible include something else), then the phrase “pit bull includes” could be unconstitutional and, therefore, would have a huge impact on the rest of the law.

There have been extremely few cases that allowed the word “includes” to refer to a closed (exhaustive) list, so history tends to be on our side in this.

The question of whether or not the list is “closed” is a case of “reading down”. Within two possible interpretations, the judge is more narrowly interpreting the phrase in order to keep it constitutional.

Previous courts have held that, in the cases where Parliament (in this case the Ontario legislature) chose “unequivocal means” of accomplishing their objective, “reading in” or “reading down” in those cases would be a judicial rewriting of the law, which is not allowed. When the choice of means (i.e., how did the legislature choose to go about reducing dangerous dog bites) is unequivocal, then changing the law to use a different means is effectively frustrating the original intent of the legislation.

Since documents such as those from the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) do not include any of the three purebred breeds AT ALL in any of the bite incident reports, then it is inconceivable that the legislature intended to go after only the three purebred breeds. Rather, it intended to go after “pit bull terriers”, which the court has already found don’t exist (i.e., are unconstitutionally vague).

The definition of “pit bull” is the CORE of this legislation and it cannot be changed by the judge. It must be thrown out.


Mr. Charney, on behalf of the government, requested that clause 1(1)(a) and the entire section 19 be “severed” (removed) from the legislation. His argument is that the law will operate just fine without these.

Severance is an example of “reading down” (removal of parts by the judge to make the law constitutional).

According to prior courts’ rulings, the court should interfere with the original legislation as little as possible. Severance (the removal of offending parts) is an ordinary part of constitutional adjudication and should be considered as interfering less that throwing out the whole law.

The court should not invalidate portions of the law that it has already found to be valid, i.e., clauses (b) through (e).

The purpose of the court is to keep as much of the law as possible in order to maintain the objective of the legislature that created the law.

The judge has already found that there was a reasoned apprehension of harm from the dogs in clauses (b) through (e), because the judge found that those clauses were constitutional. Therefore, Mr. Ruby can’t come back now and argue that these clauses refer to a miniscule number of dogs and should not be kept. That was argued during the main case, the judge made a decision on that already (deciding to keep four of the five clauses), and that overbreadth argument should not be re-argued now, during the remedy phase.

When the committee voted to keep clause (a), even though it had been pointed out to them very clearly that there was no such thing as a “pit bull terrier”, that there was no breed standard, and that nobody knew what it was, Mr. Ruby argued that they must have felt that “pit bull terrier” was an essential element of the definition. Mr. Charney states that the committee never voted to keep clause (a) specifically. They did, however, vote specifically to keep clauses (b), (c), and (d). The vote that included (a) was actually a vote on the entire definition of “pit bull”, not just clause (a). Therefore, Mr. Ruby’s argument that removing clause (a) was frustrating the intent of the legislature is not valid.

A somewhat humourous moment occurred when Mr. Ruby had used statements during the committee by a Mr. Lewis, a lawyer from the government’s policy division. Mr. Charney argued that Mr. Lewis’ comments could not be considered because he did not represent the government (such as a minister would), but was rather simply a civil servant in the employ of the government. Not much later, Mr. Charney claimed to be representing the government’s point of view and the judge responded by suggesting that he too did not represent the government, but was rather only a civil servant in the employ of the government. So that part of Mr. Charney’s argument kind of went out the window there.

Mr. Charney stated that the court has to consider two major questions:

1. Is the part that remains so inextricably bound up with the part that was removed that the remaining portion cannot stand on its own?

2. Would the legislature have passed the constitutional portion alone without the unconstitutional part?

He stated that the judge had already determined in her section 1 analysis that the law could achieve the objective of the legislature using only clauses (b) through (e). Section 1 of the Charter deals with the principles of fundamental justice, part of which considers whether or not a law is overkill considering the harmfulness (or lack thereof) of its targets. The judge had already found that, after removing “pit bull terrier” and leaving only the purebreds and “any dog that is substantially similar”, the law was still reasonable (and therefore constitutional).

A fair bit of discussion now started regarding the phrase “pit bull includes:”.

Mr. Charney stated that the judge has three options regarding this phrase:

1. Leave the phrase as is and interpret the word “includes” narrowly (i.e., that the list following it is exhaustive, complete, and closed). This was Mr. Charney’s preference.

2. Change the word “includes” to the word “means”. This would require “striking out” the word “include” and “reading in” the word “means”, to produce an effect of “reading down” the law by making it less broad.

3. Add the word “only” after the word “includes” so that the phrase would read “pit bull includes only:”. This is also “reading down” by “reading in” an additional word, in order to make the law less broad.

Mr. Charney argued that this is all simply a matter of style and that the most important thing to consider is the effect of the change. Look at the original intent of the law and then whatever choice the judge makes in order to make it constitutional would be perfectly acceptable to maintain the original objective of the law.

“Reading in” or “severance” are important tools to avoid intruding on the legislature. Avoiding interfering with the original legislative objective must be the prime consideration of the court. Courts have held that the techniques of “striking down” and “reading in” do not unduly intrude on the legislature. Mr. Charney argued that the law, as it stands after removal of the unconstitutional parts, is substantially constitutional and only peripherally problematic (the opposite of what Mr. Ruby said it is).

“Reading in” (e.g., adding the word “only”) is only appropriate when the objective of the legislature is obvious and where it would further the objective of the legislation or minimally intrude of the legislative objective.

Striking down the entire legislation would interfere with the legislative objective and would cause the intended targets to be left untargeted until such time as new legislation could be drafted. This is more intrusive than simply adding or changing a single word in order to accomplish the original objective.

The judge really pushed Mr. Charney with Mr. Ruby’s argument that the court cannot know if the legislature would have targeted only the three purebreds and similar dogs, if it had known that it would not have been able to use the phrase “pit bull terrier”.

Mr. Ruby stood back up, responded to a couple of arguments by Mr. Charney, and then reiterated his request for the entire legislation to be struck down because the removal of the unconstitutional parts has dramatically changed the scope and impact of the legislation and has increased the cost of enforcing and prosecuting it.

The judge thanked everyone and left.


Nobody seems to be too worried about section 19 (the veterinary document). The government is quite happy for it to be severed. We probably are too, but we did argue that section 19 was inextricably linked to the definition of pit bull and therefore couldn’t just be struck down on its own.

The key seems to be the other two vagueness issues.

The judge is going to have to decide two things here:

1. Does the removal of the phrase “pit bull terrier” so substantially change the definition that the legislature needs to go back to the drawing board and figure it out again, rather than simply having the judge remove an offending phrase?

2. Can the judge reword the phrase “includes” to “means” or “includes only” without substantially altering the legislature’s original objective?

Both sides did well. I really liked some of Clayton Ruby’s arguments that I had not thought of before, particularly the idea that throwing out “pit bull terrier” might be throwing out 99% of the dogs responsible for bites.

I recognize, as does he, that pit bull bites are not significant in this province when placed in context with other breeds or types of dogs, but that was not what was at issue here today. Mr. Ruby had to act within the findings of the judge in her original decision. So, even though he may not personally believe that all generic “pit bulls” are dangerous, he had to work within the judge’s findings that pit bull bites were significant enough that the government appeared to have reason to target them. So rather than repeating his original argument from the main case that generic “pit bulls” weren’t dangerous, he argued instead that removing “pit bull terrier” from the list may indeed be removing a substantial number of dogs that may have originally the main objective of the legislation.

Basically, he said, you can’t tell exactly what dogs the legislature was talking about when they talked about “pit bulls”, so you can’t just remove one piece and say, “well, they weren’t really talking about that clause, only the other four”. You have to go back to the legislature and get them to rewrite it if you really want to know what they intended.

So, that’s about it.

If the law gets sent back to the legislature, we have won, pending an appeal by the government.

If the law gets changed to “pit bull means” or “pit bull includes only”, or if the judge narrowly interprets the word “includes” to be exhaustive, then the law will still target the three purebred breeds and dogs that are substantially similar, so we will appeal.

In the middle of all of this comes the election. We may have a decision before then (I would certainly hope), but it will be just before the election and I don’t think the legislature will be doing any more work before the campaigning starts.

So, if we win, it is likely that any action by the government would be postponed until after the election. Then the government, assuming that it’s still the Liberals in power, can decide whether they want to appeal, rewrite the law to target pit bulls again, rewrite the law to target truly dangerous dogs, or shrug their shoulders and let the law die a natural death, leaving in place the original Dog Owners’ Liability Act.

Hope this helps.

Steve Barker

Ontario Ombudsman: Government “puffery” undermines public trust

A huge thank you to Ontario Ombudsman André Marin for saying publicly (and for getting the media to publish) what I and others have been trying to say for years.

This Ontario government simply does not appear to believe that it has any responsibility, whatsoever, to its taxpayers.

Marin, in his second annual report, describes the Ontario Liberal government as being rife with “puffery”.

I could not have described it better.

Read the Globe and Mail story for more details or visit the Ombudsman’s website to read the entire report.

I will be reviewing it and reporting back to you.


393 University Avenue in downtown Toronto.
Courtroom 904 – June 28 10:00 AM

Between Queen and Dundas on University Avenue.

If you’re taking the TTC, it’s on the University/Spadina subway line between Osgoode (Queen) and St. Patrick (Dundas) stations.

We want as many people as possible to be there, please. Get there early to ensure that you get in. I’m aiming for 8:00 AM, which may be overkill, but I’d rather be too early than too late.

As I understand it, the arguments will be about how to implement the judge’s decision on the challenge of DOLA. The judge must decide the best course of action now that the law has been substantially eroded.

The decision of the judge, as far as I understand it, is that the following parts of the law are unconstitutional:

  1. The phrase “pit bull includes”;
  2. The phrase “pit bull terrier” as a definition of a restricted dog;
  3. The use of only a document from a veterinarian as proof of breed, thus placing onto the defendant the burden of the costs of cross-examination and calling of experts to refute the document.

The full text of the judge’s decision is here.

Here is a plain English interpretation of what could happen, courtesy of the Fundamental Freedoms Project:

The Charter is a part of Canada’s Constitution, and is included in the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 gives courts the power to say that a law that violates the Charter is not valid. You can ask a court to make such a declaration. When applying section 52, a court might:
  • strike out the part of the law that violates the Charter
  • interpret a law narrowly so that it fits Charter rights
  • ‘read in’ features to the law so that it meets Charter requirements
  • declare that you are not covered by the law that violates your Charter rights (a ‘constitutional exemption’)

Be there. Let the Ontario Liberals know that you will not accept the erosion of Canadian charter rights, the legislated second-class citizenship of law-abiding people, and the extermination of unoffending dogs.

Please read Caveat’s post regarding court protocol, written for the original court case in May 2006, but still applicable.

Courtesy of Marsha Boulton, author of Wally’s World available at Amazon Canada.

Save lives – ban murder, alcohol, cars, suicide, and tobacco!

Today, I was outside having a cigarette (nasty habit, by the way) and reading my cigarette pack.

According to the statistics on the package (from Health Canada), tobacco kills almost five times as many people each year in Canada as murders, alcohol, car accidents, and suicides combined!

Murders – 510
Alcohol – 1,900
Car accidents – 2,900
Suicides – 3,900
Tobacco – 45,000

Now, I’m a little suspicious of these numbers, particularly the alcohol and tobacco.

Murders, car accidents, and suicides are clearly specific, identifiable, and trackable incidents.

Alcohol might be, depending if they’re talking about alcohol-related injuries causing death or if they’re trying to lump in things like alcohol-related liver disease. I’m also not sure if both the car accidents and the alcohol-related deaths include deaths caused by drunk drivers.

Tobacco, on the other hand, may be a cause in a huge number of deaths, but it may be a little too easy to chalk up some of these deaths to the evil weed when they may have occurred anyway because of genetics or because of other aspects of a person’s lifestyle.

That said, let’s assume for the moment that these numbers are reasonably accurate.

Do you know how many people are killed each year in Canada by dogs?


That’s right. One person per year, sometimes a child but not always, loses their life because of a dog bite or attack.

Horrifying and traumatizing for the family of this person, no doubt. But no less so than for the families of those people shot or knifed to death, launched through a windshield, put to sleep by an overdose of pills, or killed by a drunk driver.

How many people do you think have been killed in Canada by “pit bull” type dogs? As always, I must add the corollary that we can never truly identify the type of dog beyond a basic generic appearance.

So how many?

ONE in the last TWENTY-FIVE years!

Now, I have no idea how many people all those other things have killed over the past twenty-five years, but if we assumed that the number of deaths has doubled between 1982 and now (a generous assumption), that’s over a MILLION people, dead from these various causes. The reality is probably more than that.

Still, we are allowed to smoke.
Still, we are allowed to drink.
Still, we are allowed to drive.
Still, we are allowed to own things with which we could kill ourselves.
Still, we are allowed to own things with which we could kill others.

Yet, we are not allowed to own “pit bulls”. The government is allowed to track me, photograph my dog, share my personal information, enter my house unannounced, confiscate my property, and publicly vilify me, making me and others like me afraid to step outside our front doors.

ONE person in TWENTY-FIVE years!

Do you really think the Ontario law was even remotely about public safety?

Or was it about looking good on TV, about getting re-elected, about personal ambition and power?

Or was it about getting around that pesky clause in the constitution prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure?

Or that other clause that keeps getting in the way, the one about being presumed innocent?

Logically, looking at all these other causes of death, any reasonable person would have to conclude that it sure as hell wasn’t about protecting lives.

Not "pit bulls"? Not interested!

Since I’ve been involved in dog legislation issues, I have seen many newspaper articles and TV stories about “pit bulls”. They range from ridiculous to horrifying and everything in between.

I have seen instances of articles being passed from newspaper to newspaper throughout the world, cases of multiple local and national newspapers and TV stations carrying stories of the most minor nature, simply because they involved the phrase “pit bull” (even if the dog’s breed was not identifiable or was later identified as something else).

I still regularly meet people who refer to “those dogs who killed the lady in San Francisco” or the dogs who attacked the young girl in Vancouver as “pit bulls”, thanks to news reports at the time.

Without a doubt, there have been some horrifying attacks by dogs that might be classified, somewhere, as “pit bull” type dogs (whatever that is).

Clearly, however, there have also been some reports that only existed because of the sensational nature of what the people involved believed the breed to be.

Some examples:

  1. Dog on dog incidents with minimal injury.
  2. Dog “nips” children (particularly puppy nips).
  3. One dog kills another dog.
  4. Two dogs kill a cat.
  5. Loose running dog shot to death by police. No attack, no bite, no injury.

I’m not suggesting that any of these incidents were not serious, especially to the people victimized. Any time there is serious injury to a person or another animal, we need to find out why and take steps to prevent similar occurrences, and the owners should be held accountable.

My point is simply that each of these stories appeared in multiple newspapers and on multiple TV stations, even at the national level, because they involved the word “pit bull”.

Contrast those stories with this incident that occurred in Sarnia last Thursday. The only newspaper to pick this up was the local Observer. I’ve included the entire story at the end of this article because I don’t want to lose track of it if the Observer removes it later.

Note that, according to the article, the owners have not been charged and the dogs have not been confiscated.

Now, take this same story, with the same number of dogs, with the same end result of 12 cats dead, but instead of “hounds”, put the word “pit bulls”.

Can you imagine the press coverage? This would not only go nationwide. It would probably be read around the world.

If it weren’t so scary, it would be almost humorous to point out that this occurred in Sarnia, the same city that designated three seven-week old mixed breed puppies as “posing a menace to the public safety of persons and domestic animals”.

The comparison between those three puppies and these “hounds” (whatever they are) is laughable. The “hounds”, although doing what comes naturally to a pack of dogs running loose, were ALLOWED to do this by their owners by not being properly supervised and restrained. Contrast this with the puppies, who were capable of nothing more than drinking their mother’s milk.

Has common sense gone out the window regarding dogs, not only in Sarnia, but in the whole province?

Maybe Michael Bryant should follow his own lead and ban hounds as well. Wouldn’t we all be safer?

Sorry, does that sound stupid, far-fetched, hysterical?

Why, because they’re not “pit bulls”?

Here’s the whole story from the Sarnia Observer:

From the www.theobserver.ca web site
Monday, June 25, 2007
© 2007 The Sarnia Observer

Pack of hound dogs kill 12 cats; ‘They just kept attacking,’ says Carol Reynolds


Saturday, June 23, 2007 – 16:00

Local News – A local couple is reeling after a pack of hunting dogs slaughtered 12 of their cats Thursday.

Carol Reynolds said she woke to the baying of a hound dog around 5:15 a.m. outside her Waubuno Road home, about five minutes from Brigden.

By the time she peered out her window, four hounds were circling the yard and within seconds two more joined the group.

“I looked out and I saw dead cats on the lawn,” she said. “I began screaming. The dogs were killing the cats.”

Carol and her husband Greg provide care to stray cats and had about 32 of the animals. They lost 12 cats in the attack, including four kittens.

Carol Reynolds said she called police who advised her not to go outside. All she could do was watch in horror, she said.

“There was nothing I could do,” she said. “They just kept attacking, one cat after another.”

The dogs circled their prey one at a time and attacked. The cats were trampled, bitten and disemboweled.

Some other kittens managed to climb the stairs of the front porch and Carol reached out and pulled a handful to safety. Several adult cats sought shelter under a car and didn’t resurface until hours later.

“I started throwing stuff at the dogs, anything I could find. I even threw some china at them but it only caused them to pause for a second, then continue,” Carol Reynolds said. “It was just horrible. It was a slaughter.”

Her husband arrived home from shift work about the same time as police, some 30 minutes after the attack began.

Officers located the dogs later that morning, along with their owner.

They were collared with tracking devices, Greg Reynolds said. “We want (the owner) charged.”

He said the dogs were left outside by the owner to hone their hunting skills.

The owner told police he would not be contacting the Reynolds family.

“My main concern is that people should be aware that this is a practice, that dogs are being allowed to roam free in order to train,” Carol Reynolds said.

“Maybe if charges are laid, people will be less likely to allow their dogs to run loose.”
© 2007 , Osprey Media. All Rights Reserved.

I knew these guys were bad, but this is ridiculous!

I became a reluctant political activist, specifically targeting the ruling Ontario Liberal party, because of their arrogance, because of their insolence, because of their false and misleading public statements, and because they showed an incredible lack of willingness to listen and learn from people who know what they’re talking about.

Considering the amount of time and effort I and my colleagues have spent over the past almost three years trying to educate and eventually being forced to fight the Liberal government, you’d think I’d have better insight as to how terribly this party has governed our province, but even with my inside knowledge, I really had no idea.

That is, until Social Mange published this article, writing it all down in one, easy-to-understand document.

I am truly stunned at the audacity of these men and women who have clearly forgotten (if they ever cared) that they have been hired by us, at our expense, to do what’s best for us, not what’s best for themselves.

Please, please, please make sure these guys do NOT get back into power in October of this year.

I don’t think my heart nor my brain could take it.

Air Canada replies but doesn’t say much

Here is Air Canada’s reply to my recent letter. Another example of “economics” trumping customer service. What about MY customer service?

Response (Debbie Mcammond) – 06/22/2007 01:19 PM
Dear Mr. Barker,

Thank you for your email outlining your concerns regarding our recent decision to no longer accept pets as checked baggage.

We review all our policies, procedures and services on a regular basis to ensure that our product offering responds to customer demand while keeping pace with industry standards and economic realities.

As you are aware, effective July 15, 2007, we will no longer accept pets as checked baggage. We will honour bookings which have already been made.

Our reasoning behind this decision is to effectively handle the high volume of baggage loads and meet the needs of the vast majority of our passengers. With the record load factors we have been experiencing, and with current security measures in place, we have more checked bags than ever.

Animals carried as checked baggage restrict us as to the amount of baggage we are ultimately able to carry on any given flight, thereby inconveniencing other passengers as we have to offload baggage to accommodate the oxygen circulation requirements for the pets.

While we recognize we have disappointed you, we do hope the above will allow you to better understand our decision.

Customer Relations

Air Canada – fly a whole new way (petless)

Further to my previous story about Air Canada, here’s my letter to them.

Interestingly, after I sent them the letter, I received an automated response stating that I should receive a detailed reply within 15 days (I think they actually said “business days”).

Now that’s customer service!

Anyway, here’s the letter.

Dear Sir/Madam:

Please be advised that, as a long time customer of Air Canada (approximately 25 years) and one who has consistently chosen Air Canada over its competitors, I will no longer fly Air Canada for any trip, anywhere. In fact, I will now be willing to pay for a more expensive flight on another airline in order to make sure I don’t fly Air Canada.

As a pet owner, for me this is simply a matter of principle, regardless of whether my pet is coming with me on a particular trip.

I refuse to support any organization that treats pet owners as second class citizens and that is exactly what you have done with this decision.

Apparently, if I am to believe your advertisements, I can fly a whole new way on Air Canada – my way. Unless, of course, I own a pet.


Steve Barker

Guess who I’m not flying with any more?

Air Canada will no longer carry pets on passenger flights as of July 15, 2007.

According to their spokesperson, it’s about “customer service” – giving non-pet-owning passengers more room for personal baggage.

What Air Canada fails to realize is that pet-owning passengers will choose not to fly their airline, whether or not their pet is flying with them, simply as a matter of principle.

With the exception of one existing prebooked flight, I will definitely be choosing a different airline in the future.

If you choose to do the same, make sure you tell Air Canada why.

Online comments

In Canada or U.S.
Air Canada – Customer Relations
PO Box 64239,
5512 4th Street, NW
Calgary, AB, Canada
T2K 6J0
Tel: 1-888-247-2262
Fax: 1-866-584-0380

Read all the news articles below.


City News

Globe and Mail



Toronto Star

Killing puppies because they can

Further to my earlier story regarding the confiscated mother and puppies in Sarnia.

The following letter was issued today by the president of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada. Permission was given to distribute widely.


On June 6, 2007 animal control officers in Sarnia, Ontario seized a mother dog and her three 7-week old puppies from the home of Brian Edwards Jr. and Cassie Bates.

The dogs’ offence? Solely that an animal control officer identified them as “pit bulls” under the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act (“DOLA”). This breed identification has subsequently and conveniently been changed by the authorities; the puppies and mother are now claimed to be Staffordshire bull terriers or have the appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar.

According to the owners, the dogs in question are neither.

On March 23, 2007 Madam Justice Thea Herman, a judge of the Ontario Superior Court, issued a decision that we understand renders the DOLA classifications “pit bull” and “pit bull terrier” unconstitutionally vague. If our understanding is correct, the seizure of the mother and her pups on the basis that they are “pit bulls” would have been unconstitutional.

As for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier identification, there is no proof of that breed identification. It is merely the word of an animal control officer, not a breed expert. The mother dog is not a registered Staffordshire Bull Terrier; she does not have registration papers, a microchip or an identifying tattoo.

At the time of the dogs’ removal from their home, the owners stated they were given two options: hand the mom and her puppies over, or be charged because the dogs were not licensed and the female is not spayed.

This is a scare tactic frequently used by animal control officers to intimidate those who do not know the law into giving up their property – their dogs – without the municipality having to deal with the inconvenience and expense of a court case. This scare tactic unfortunately often works. Of course, threats of pepper spray and arrest work just as well. That’s what happened when Brian approached the animal control van to calm the mother dog.

On June 13th, the media reported that these dogs were given a stay of execution.

On that same day, however, the City of Sarnia issued a letter stating that “the pound operator will exercise certain options set out in Section 20(7.4) of the Animals for Research Act,R.S.O. 1990 ( the “ARA”).” Four options were cited. Only one allows the dogs to live.

The ARA specifically states that the puppies and their mom can be safely transferred to a person who is resident outside Ontario.

Knowing of this option, Advocates for the Underdog, a well known and respected rescue, has offered at their own cost to take this task upon themselves.

The Advocates offer was declined by Sarnia pound officials.

The City Solicitor for Sarnia has filed documents claiming that the seven-week old puppies and their mother pose “a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals”.

Therefore, under the provisions cited, the City of Sarnia has decided that the mother dog and her puppies will be killed.

Not only does Sarnia animal control apparently not understand the law that they are supposed to be enforcing, but the Sarnia legal department also apparently does not have a clear understanding of the law.

Or perhaps they understand it too well. Could it be that the Ontario Attorney General’s office is once again wielding the same bloody pen used to write Ontario’s breed-specific legislation? One has to wonder why the Ontario government’s highly paid constitutional lawyers, who presented during the recent Superior Court case, sat in on less well-known municipal cases pertaining to “pit bulls”. One also has to wonder why the City of Sarnia has recently announced that it will be performing door-to-door checks on all homes for the presence of dogs.

The constitutional challenge to DOLA is back in court for the remedy hearing at the end of this month. Until that time, it is our understanding that this law is in limbo and subject to misinterpretation and mistakes.

Without judicial clarification, it is hard to see how the City of Sarnia can justify the killing of innocent puppies. One would think that prudence would cause the City to put a moratorium on further actions until the courts clarify whether the law is enforceable.

One would also believe that any municipality or agent of the municipality that destroys the property of a citizen under DOLA before the final ruling is made, may well find themselves legally liable for those actions.

The back-door legal tactic used by the City of Sarnia to kill unoffending puppies and their mother should be seen by all dog owners as a purely vindictive measure. The classification of “substantially similar physical characteristics” could easily be applied to tens of thousands of Ontario dogs.

The City of Sarnia, of which animal control is an agency, is not (as claimed by one city councillor) just “acting on provincial law”. The City of Sarnia, of which animal control is an agency, has made its own decision to kill these dogs.

There is a huge gray area of options, some of which are within DOLA and others that do not require the use of that particular law. Killing these dogs is not required or mandated.

The DLCC asks that you take five minutes from your day and write, call or fax the members of Sarnia City Council. You don’t have to live in Sarnia, or even in Canada, to write the mayor and councillors.

Ask that they allow these dogs to live and be placed in the competent, caring hands of the Advocates for the Underdog. If you wish to see the correspondence from the City of Sarnia to the lawyers for Brian Edwards Jr., please visit the DLCC website:


The next meeting of Sarnia City Council is scheduled for Monday, June 25th, 2007

City Hall
255 N. Christina Street
Sarnia, ON N7T 7N2
Phone: 519 332-0330 ext.312
TTY#: 519 332-2664
Fax: 519 332-3995
155 N. Front Street, Apt. #705
Sarnia ON N7V 7V5
519 336-8092
Email: mayor@city.sarnia.on.ca

City and County Councillor: DAVE BOUSHY
1413 Lakeshore Road
Sarnia ON N7S 2M3
Home: 519 542-3109
Fax: 519 542-0868
Email: d.boushy@cogeco.ca

City and County Councillor: JIM FOUBISTER
1937 Buena Ventura
Brights Grove ON N0N 1C0
Home: 519 869-4701
Fax: 519 869-8625
Email: jimfoubister@city.sarnia.on.ca

City and County Councillor: BEV MACDOUGALL
228 Maria Street
Sarnia ON N7T 4T1
Home: 519 344-0768
Business: 519 344-5543
Fax: 519 332-0916
Email: bevmacdougall@city.sarnia.on.ca

City and County Councillor: ANNE MARIE GILLIS
65 Ashby Crescent
Sarnia ON N7S 4L5
Home: 519 542-9728
Business: 519 542-0554
Fax: 519 542-0554
Email: annemariegillis@city.sarnia.on.ca

City Councillor: ANDY BRUZIEWICZ
665 Stonecrest Avenue
Sarnia ON N7V 2K3
P.O. Box 2373
Sarnia ON N7T 7S6
Business: 519 332-2639
Fax: 519 337-7855
Email: andybruziewicz@hotmail.com

City Councillor: JON MCEACHRAN
978 London Road
Sarnia ON N7S 1N7
Home: 519 337-7200
Business: 519 383-7200
Fax: 519 383-7800
Email: jonmceachran@hotmail.com

City Councillor: MIKE KELCH
324 Tawny Road
Sarnia ON N7S 5J6
Home: 519 542-5682
Business: 519 339-4003
Fax: 519 542-8827
Email: mike@mikekelch.com

City Councillor: TERRY BURRELL
954 Champlain Road
Brights Grove ON N7V 2G2
Home: 519 542-8826
Business: 519 336-5545
Fax: 519 336-2130
Email: terry@terryburrell.ca

Please copy your correspondence to the Sarnia City Solicitor:

City Solicitor/Clerk – Brian W. Knott
City Hall
255 N. Christina Street
Sarnia ON N7T 7N2
Phone: 519-332-0330 ext 262

General Inquiries
Phone: 519-332-0330 ext 263
Fax: 519-332-3995
TTY#: 519 332-2664


Newspaper headlines: how to lie and get away with it

Note to the media: If you fail to tell the whole truth, then you’re still lying!!

That’s why the courts ask witnesses to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Omitting a crucial fact when reporting a story can change the entire perception of the event.

Additional note to the media: Headlines are part of your story! They should be subject to the same conditions as the rest of the article.

The code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists states:

“Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.”

Thanks to KC Dog Blog for the following info. I would normally just link to KC’s post, but I wanted to expand a bit on this.

In Washington State, on June 13, an Appeals Court judge ruled that a man’s dog, which he used to attack a police officer, could be considered a deadly weapon.

The short version of the story is from the Tacoma Olympian and the longer version from the Clark County Columbian.

Here are the two headlines (emphasis mine):

Olympian: “Court says pit bull dog is deadly weapon”

Columbian: “Judge says pit bulls are deadly weapons”

Now, here’s the text from the stories (emphasis mine). In the Columbian, this text is quite far down in the article.

OIympian: “The court says a dog is a deadly weapon because it can be used to cause death or substantial bodily harm.”

Columbian: ” ‘A dog is an instrument that can be used to cause death or substantial bodily harm,’ wrote (Judge David) Armstrong. The decision didn’t specify a legal difference between pit bulls or any other breed.”

So, the judge never actually singled out “pit bulls” as dangerous weapons. According to both reports, he said that dogs may cause death or substantial bodily harm.

Agreed, it is partially the truth that this particularly “pit bull” has now been classified by the judge as a dangerous weapon. But that is not the whole truth.

The dog was not ruled as a dangerous weapon because of what type of dog it was. The judge clearly identified the entire species (dog) as having the potential to cause harm or death. This man was charged and convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon simply because he allowed his dog (regardless of breed) to attack a police officer.

This story reminds me of the newspaper reports about the Hoskins family in Hillsboro, Oregon, in August 2004. The couple were eventually sentenced to three years in jail for using their dog to discipline their children by allowing it to attack them.

There were a number of inflammatory headlines at the time, most of which I can’t find now. But this one from the Corvallis Gazette is a good example (emphasis mine).

Headline: “Couple face jail for letting dog attack kids”

Introduction: “A Hillsboro couple face at least three years in prison after pleading guilty to felony assault for letting their part-pit bull dog attack their children as discipline.”

Text: “The dog, Nigel, a mix of pit bull, Doberman pinscher, German shepherd and Labrador, has been euthanized.”

Wow, must have been the “pit bull” part that attacked the kids! Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the dog had been trained and encouraged to use its teeth on seven and eight year old children!

So, looking further, I find a newswire blurb in the Washington Post (one of the most read newspapers in the world):

“HILLSBORO, Ore. — A couple faces at least three years in prison for disciplining their children by letting their part-pit bull dog attack them.”

Nothing about the true mix of the dog.

So now, this story gets to go around the world, courtesy of one of the planet’s most popular news organizations, with only the word “pit bull” anywhere, even in the text. Thousands of people will have read that little Washington Post note and the only thing they will have noticed is “PIT BULL”!

So, as the title of this post says, headlines are a way to lie and get away with it.

The power of parroting

Over the years, a number of well-meaning people, who have tried to do their own research about “pit bulls”, have said to me, “But I go on the Internet, search for ‘pit bull attack’, and there are thousands of web pages. If there are that many attacks, there must be something wrong with these dogs.”

This reminds me a little of the SARS “epidemic” that happened in Ontario in 2003. Without a doubt, there was a bad outbreak of a communicable virus that nobody had seen before and nobody understood.

What amazed me, however, was the impression outside Ontario, particularly in the United States, of a locked-down, mass-hysteria situation. One American tourist who I helped after a car accident begged me not to call an ambulance because she didn’t want to get SARS!

The international media reports had a devastating effect on tourism in this province and, even four years later, we’re still recovering from that. Meanwhile, in Toronto, the epicentre of the virus, we were all walking around, going to work, living our lives without any serious concerns. Yes, if we went to a hospital emergency ward, we had to wear masks. But, for most of us, that was the extent of the effect.

To those who were exposed to the virus, it had a huge impact on their lives and I am not minimizing that whatsoever, in the same way that being bitten or attacked by a dog has a permanent and traumatic effect on the individual victim and families. But the general population was still able to realize that the chances of contracting SARS, even at its height, were miniscule.

The difference between our daily reality and the media portrayal, however, was huge.

I was reading the Globe and Mail this week and saw a tiny article about Bjorn Borg having to drop out of the Liverpool International tennis tournament on Monday because of a dog bite he received on the weekend.

Here’s the text of the article from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070612.DIGE12-1/TPStory

Liverpool, England — A severe dog bite led Bjorn Borg to pull out of his first grass-court match in 26 years. The five-time Wimbledon champion was bitten on his right leg by a German shepherd when he tried to pull it away from his golden retriever at his home in Sweden over the weekend. Borg, who was treated at a Stockholm hospital, was told not to put any weight on the leg for at least six weeks. He had been scheduled to play 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash at the Liverpool International tournament this week.

So, I did a Google search for “Bjorn Borg dog bite Liverpool”. 870 hits over a period of two days (June 11 and 12). The vast majority of these hits were from mainstream media newspapers in every corner of the world.

My impression, if I were to trust only the search results, is that this was a major event, about which dozens, if not hundreds, of reporters had written articles.

As I looked more closely at the search results, however, I realized that there were only, as far as I could tell, three unique articles. The remainder of the results were exact, word-for-word, repetitions of those three original articles. So, from those three reports, came hundreds (and I’m sure eventually thousands) of Internet search hits.

That is the danger of just depending on numbers and statistics, without carefully considering the source and the duplication.

Each of the editors of these hundreds of newspapers throughout the world looked at this story and made a personal, individual determination whether that particular story, with those particular details, would be of interest to their particular readers, in their particular part of the world. Will my readers be interested in this and (for many editors) will it sell newspapers?

Regardless of whether you are researching “pit bull” attacks, dog bites in general, SARS, global warming, or underwater basket weaving, I think it’s a good idea to keep this in mind.

Sarnia and "pit bulls": city on shaky legal ground

There’s a little thing going on in Sarnia, Ontario, this week that illustrates some serious problems with cities being far too eager to apply the vague, unenforceable, and unconstitutional Dog Owners’ Liability Act.

The Sarnia Observer has four related stories:

Dog census underway in city

Seized dogs face execution

Dogs gain stay of execution

Local rallies to protest pit bull law

The following is a letter I wrote in the past week to the Sarnia Observer that summarizes my feelings on this issue.

After reading about this incident, I feel more than ever that no dog owner is truly safe in this province.

June 7, 2007

To the editor of the Sarnia Observer:

Re “Seized dogs face execution” (June 7), regardless of whether or not these people broke the law (and keep in mind that they are fighting these charges, saying that the dogs are not “pit bulls”), here are my issues with this:

a) Killing seven-week-old puppies, regardless of breed, temperament, ownership, or anything else, is an evil and despicable act that has no basis in reason or conscience. Since when did our government turn into puppy-killers? We’ve got Animal Rights groups going ballistic over keeping animals in captivity or over the hunting of this type of animal or over the possible extinction of this one, and yet, right in front of our noses, we could not have a better example of government-sponsored extinction.

b) It is not possible, at seven weeks old, to tell the breed of a dog, especially when that identification determines the life or death of that dog. It is impossible (and illegal) to identify a purebred dog if it doesn’t have kennel club registration papers.

c) Failure to keep these pups (or any dog) alive during a court case is an abuse of the protection afforded poundkeepers when they choose to destroy a dog. It is simply wrong to try to kill the dog as quickly as possible before the owners can win their court case.

d) According to the judge’s recent decision, the onus is no longer solely on the owner to prove the breed of their dog (or lack of).

So, ultimately, the Sarnia authorities are saying, “we think it might, possibly, look like something that we think might, possibly, be illegal, so we’re going to kill these living, breathing animals, even if you prove us wrong later”.

This reminds of one of the white supremacists’ favourite sayings: “Kill ’em all, let God sort ’em out”.


Steve Barker

The death of the mixed breed dog

There was a time when, if asked, I would have said that only licensed, ethical breeders of registered, purebred dogs should be allowed to breed, in order to eliminate backyard breeding and puppy milling. As with most absolutes, I have gradually been forced to re-examine that attitude, for a variety of reasons.

I guess, first of all, mandatory spay/neuter, just by its very nature, must end up descending into the insanity that is California’s Bill AB1634, recently (and narrowly) passed by the State Assembly. I’m sure this bill is primarily intended to allow authorities to easily shut down puppy millers, but how the heck do they really think this is going to help anybody?

Forced sterilization of all non-purebred dogs by four months of age? Can any reasonable, logical person step back, look at that statement, and truthfully say, “Yep, that’ll work”?

Like the Ontario pit bull ban, engineered by the governing Liberal Party purely to look good on TV, the only people who will obey this law are the ones that weren’t the problem in the first place.

I was just commenting to a friend of mine today how many bully breed dogs are walking around Toronto unmuzzled, yet I’m afraid to sit on my front porch without muzzling mine. I love my dogs and I’ve seen too many dogs die because of neighbour complaints or overzealous officers.

Same in California.

The already illegal and badly bred Mexican imports will not only continue, but will grow to meet increased demand.

The backyard breeders will continue to breed, illegaly, as they have in Ontario. They just won’t advertise in the newspapers anymore.

The good hobby breeders, who can’t afford the new licensing provisions, will simply give up producing their quality product.

The puppy millers will move out of state and then ship their physically sick, temperamentally challenged, overpriced, and unguaranteed designer dogs back to California, which apparently is NOT illegal.

There can only be one result from this law:

No more mixed breed dogs.

In five years, there’ll be half as many as today.

In ten, there’ll be almost none.

In fifteen, absolutely none.

Except, of course, for the ones from Mexico, the backyard breeders, and the out-of-state puppy millers.

Wonderful. Thanks.

Yes, there’ll be purebreds, but the number won’t even be close to enough to go around. Not if the breeders are good breeders who won’t overbreed their females, won’t own or breed a ton of dogs, and won’t hand the dogs out to just anyone.

So I started thinking about the dogs I grew up with and the dogs I’ve owned, none of which were purebred:

  • German Shepherd type
  • Labrador Retriever type
  • Border Collie type
  • Jack Russell Terrier type
  • Collie type
  • Multiple hound mixes
  • Multiple “pit bull” mixes
  • Beagle/Collie mix
  • Husky/Samoyed mix
  • Lab/Shepherd mix

All of these dogs were rescues of some sort or another and none were provable purebred dogs.

They would not have existed in the new California.

The Beagle/Collie mix and the Husky/Samoyed mix were the best dogs I’ve ever had (sorry, Brooklynn and Star, but it’s true).

What would my life be like now if these dogs had never entered my life?

The Beagle/Collie (Trixie) and one of the hound mixes (Dusty) who both taught me, as a child, what it feels like to watch your dog get hit by a car. Trixie got away. Dusty didn’t. Valuable lesson, never forgotten.

The Collie (Piper) who taught me, through a bite, that many dogs don’t like being grabbed by a 12 year old when there are twenty kids in the house at a birthday party.

The Lab who taught me, through a bite, that older dogs feel pain more than younger ones.

The Border Collie who taught me, through a bite, that dogs like to chase moving objects, including children.

The Husky/Samoyed (Panda) whose incredible strength and desire to pull encouraged me to pick up my first dog training book.

The Lab/Shepherd (Zeus) who is probably my biggest regret and heartache and who didn’t deserve the crappy life he had, both before and after me.

The “pit bulls” (Brooklynn & Star) who changed my life forever and gave me my first real taste of discrimination and hatred, as well as cementing lifetime friendships with other dog owners.

None of these would have existed under California’s new law.

There are approximately 80 million dogs in North America. Very few end up in shelters compared to the massive number that stay in their original homes. There may be overpopulation in some areas, but if this type of law spreads throughout the rest of the continent, I fail to see how sterilizing 70 million out of the 80 million dogs is a reasonable solution.

Frankly, I think it’s one step above the Chinese solution of handing over all existing dogs (no exceptions) because of three cases of rabies. It’s rooted in the same overreactive thought process.

A study of shelters in the late 1990’s by the National Council on Pet Population identified the top ten reasons for dogs being relinquished to shelters (Note: this does not include strays picked by rescuers or animal control). They are:

  1. Moving
  2. Landlord issues
  3. Cost of pet maintenance
  4. No time for pet
  5. Inadequate facilities
  6. Too many pets in home
  7. Pet illness
  8. Personal problems
  9. Biting
  10. No homes for littermates

If you look at this list carefully, the only real overpopulation one is #10 (no homes for littermates). #6 might be considered a similar problem, but we can assume that any dog included in #6 is NOT from a recent litter, so that could be bad owner decision-making (in terms of how many dogs were brought into the home) or simply a case of multiple dogs not getting along.

If we break these ten reasons down into major categories, some in multiple categories, we get:

  • Lack of owner planning (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10)
  • Housing (1, 2, 5)
  • Issues out of owner’s control (2, 7, 8)
  • Dog behaviour (9)
  • Backyard breeding (10)

So the issue may not, indeed, be as simple as overpopulation when we’re talking about trying to reduce the number of dogs in shelters. But, like breed banning, it’s an easy thing to legislate (although difficult, if not impossible, to enforce). You can’t easily legislate anything else on that list, with perhaps the exception of forcing landlords to allow pets.

So, just like breed banning, legislators try to force a “one size fits all” law down everyone’s throats, even though the vast majority of mixed breed dogs in the state of California and in Canada and the U.S. will be kept by the parents’ owners or given to a reasonably good home or sold in the newspaper to somebody who’ll love them for the rest of their lives.

Do I agree with these choices by these people? Not particularly. I think there are better ways to acquire dogs and, probably, most people could look after their dogs better than they do, feed them better, give them more exercise, train them more diligently. But most people get a dog, love it and look after it reasonably well until it dies, and then get another. That’s generally the way dog ownership in our countries works.

We have ideals such as mandatory owner testing, mandatory dog training classes, responsible breeding legislation, severe animal cruelty penalties, etc. These ideals are good and I, along with many others, will continue to push for these things. But the chances of legislating these in the near future are slim. With the exception of the animal cruelty laws, these types of laws won’t go over well with the general public and especially with anyone who doesn’t want the government interfering with Joe Public’s everyday life (I include myself in that group).

So education is a huge component, particularly in those areas that are very difficult to legislate. Only with public education will these types of legislation eventually be allowed and accepted.

California’s approach is doomed to fail. Unfortunately, until such a time as this law is repealed, the rights of millions of law-abiding, dog-loving citizens will have been ignored and an entire generation of lovable, funny-looking, unidentifiable “mutts” will not be there to grow up with kids, love their families, and teach children how to behave around animals.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have suggestions half the time. But I do know a bad law when I see it and this is one of those.

This is a hastily and badly thought-out piece of legislation, heavily promoted by Animal Rights groups who have publicly stated that they want to see the end of all pet ownership. Given those public statements, they could not have asked for anything better than to see the largest state in the country start firmly and unwaveringly on the path to the extinction of an entire species of domestic animal?

And far too many dog owners, sick of puppy millers, mind-boggling animal cruelty, dog fighting, thugs, and gangsters, jump on to the mandatory spay/neuter, mandatory microchipping, and breed banning bandwagons, without any real thought as to the future implications of these laws.

Microchip a dog.
Microchip a car.
Microchip a child.
Microchip a person.
Is there a difference?

Ban a breed and there will be no more dogs of that breed, the majority of which are great dogs owned by good owners. But there will be plenty of other breeds and many, many mixed-breed dogs to replace them, with no reduction in danger to the public.

Sterilize a species and there will be no more of that species. It’s that simple.

Dog owners, WAKE UP! It’s not just paranoia anymore. They really are out to get you!

May I list more Liberal arrogance?

Articles from various news organizations regarding Dalton McGuinty’s abrupt ending of the Ontario Legislature session three weeks early.

The Globe and Mail: Ontario legislature prorogued

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty abruptly ended the legislature’s spring session Tuesday, more than three weeks earlier than initially planned and one day before Citizenship and Immigration Minister Mike Colle was set to appear before a committee to face questions about grants given to groups with ties to the Liberal Party.

The Toronto Star: Legislature on holidays early

No more question periods, no more briefing books, no more Speaker’s dirty looks. After a stormy spring session fuelled by “slush fund” and lottery scandals, Premier Dalton McGuinty and MPPs are heading off 3 weeks earlier than scheduled for their summer holidays leading into the Oct. 10 election.

CityNews: Liberals End Session 3 Wks. Early To Concentrate On Getting Your Vote

How would you like to get out of work three weeks early, take the whole summer off and still not have to report back to work until October?

The Toronto Sun: Premier calls it a session

The Liberals have their work cut out for them if they’re going to shed the label of promise breakers before the fall vote, Premier Dalton McGuinty conceded Tuesday as he adjourned the legislature early

Ontario residents: Bill 232 – not bad, needs some work

Bob (Robert) Runciman, the House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, has introduced Bill 232 in the Ontario legislature. It contains amendments to the Ontario SPCA Act regarding cruelty to dogs and cats to allow the courts to impose jail terms up to two years less a day, fines up to $60,000 and up to a lifetime ban on pet ownership.

UPDATE: The text of the Bill is now available here. After reading it, I have some concerns that I would like to see addressed, namely the following:

  1. The term “adequate” used in “adequate food and water”, “adequate medical attention”, and “adequate protection from the elements”, seems to me to be vague. Does this mean adequate for survival only or adequate for comfort and growth? I think this could be a problem in prosecutions.

  2. Item 5 is a concern, considering that an enclosure is not supposed to be a place of exercise, so if a dog is properly exercised outside the enclosure and then placed in the enclosure (such as a pen), could that be considered abuse? Crating a dog could also fall under this clause.
  3. Item 6 disallows fear or excessive violence as training tools. It does not define either of these.

    Violence, although shunned by much of the dog training community, is still an accepted method of training. Any type of training collar, be it a slip collar, martingale, pinch, or e-collar, could be construed as violent, even if mild. What is the definition of excessive violence? Could grabbing a puppy by its scruff be considered violent? How about beating a dog senseless?

    Fear is another accepted method of training, although again, a large number of trainers dismiss it in favour of more positive methods. But, if my dog starts digging in the yard and I run at him, yelling, I am using fear as a training method. The terminology used in this Bill does not prohibit “excessive or abusive fear”, it prohibits “fear”, period.

    My concern regarding this section is that good, solid dog trainers who are doing a good job, especially if working with extreme problem dogs, could end up on the wrong side of the law. Even the police canine units use corrections and “violence” in their training.

I think, to truly support this bill, I’m going to have to get some answers to these questions.

Here is the remainder of my original post, but I am now officially ON THE FENCE.

At the time of writing this post, the text of the Bill is unavailable, so I’m depending on the press release from the PC Party to determine the intention and content of the amendments. Here is the text of that release:


Pet abusers should face stiff penalties and ownership bans – Runciman

TORONTO, ON – Ontarians who abuse their pet cat or dog could face much tougher penalties and a ban on pet ownership if legislation tabled yesterday becomes law.

Progressive Conservative MPP Bob Runciman (Leeds-Grenville) introduced a Private Member’s bill that will allow the courts to impose jail terms up to two years less a day, fines up to $60,000 and up to a lifetime ban on pet ownership.

Runciman’s legislation comes in the wake of a series of publicized incidents of pet abuse including the removal of a dog’s ears in order to make the animal look “scarier”.

“People who do serious physical harm to a pet should lose their right to have pets and should face penalties that are proportionate to the extent of the injuries the pet suffered,” asserted Runciman.

Runciman is hopeful that the Liberal government will consider speedy passage of his bill prior to the legislature adjourning for the summer.

At first glance, I support this Bill and I encourage others to write or call their Member of Provincial Parliament to ask them to vote for this Bill, particularly if their representative is from the Liberal Party of Ontario. This party has shown an extreme unwillingness to do anything substantial if the suggestion comes from another party. They need to be told to wake up and vote properly on this one, especially since they so clearly voted party line on the Dog Owners’ Liability Act.

If this Bill contains everything described, I would hate to see it die because of misplaced party pride or an “us versus them” attitude from the Liberals.

While writing your letter to your Member of Provincial Parliament, you may want to consider contacting your federal MP to discuss Bills S-213 and C-373 related to federal animal cruelty laws. You may first want to read the detailed discussion of these Bills from an earlier article.

Michael’s other awards

Considering Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant’s recent award from the Canadian Association of Journalists (the Code of Silence Award) for heading up “the most secretive government body in Canada”, I thought I’d point you to one of my favourite past articles suggesting other possible awards for Ontario’s most hated politician.

Click here to read my suggestions



Either 361 or 393 University Avenue in downtown Toronto.

When I confirm the address and room number, I’ll post it here.

We want as many people as possible to be there, please.

As I understand it, the arguments will be about how to implement the judge’s decision on the challenge of DOLA. The judge must decide the best course of action now that the law has been substantially eroded.

Be there. Let the Ontario Liberals know that you will not accept the erosion of Canadian charter rights, the legislated second-class citizenship of law-abiding people, and the extermination of unoffending dogs.

Click here for an earlier article on this subject

No pets please, we’re PETA(ish)!!

I know some readers are having trouble wrapping their minds around the possibility that various animal rights organizations are not only anti-breeding, but can also be anti-<place breed name here>, anti-dog, and anti-pet.

So, I’m going to try again.

  1. Not all animal rights organizations are BAD and not all of their members are BAD PEOPLE!!

    Many are truly concerned about the welfare of animals, but may be not aware of some of the behind-the-scenes (and sometimes not so subtle) activities within their own organization or within organizations after which they have modeled their own group.

  2. Typical animal rights objectives include the end of all pet ownership, after existing animals have died off without being replaced. The leaders (or former leaders) of some of the largest animals rights groups in the world have been directly quoted regarding their opinions on pet ownership.

    If you want your eyes opened quickly and harshly about their agenda, see this article.

  3. Breed bans are a method of ending pet ownership..

    Here is an article by Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, in support of “pit bull” bans.

  4. Mandatory spay/neuter by breed is a method of slowly eliminating as many dogs as possible by first targeting the “media demons”, the ones that few people are going to stand up and defend.

    Here’s an example of HSUS’s support for this method.

  5. Mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs is one of the most effective anti-dog program that animal rights groups have come up with to-date. It affects ALL dogs, not just specific breeds..

    It sounds good to the average member of the public, even dog owners, because there is a perception (sometimes accurate, often not) of massive overpopulation with strays running loose in droves.

    Spay/neuter is the solution to this overpopulation, so it supported by politicians, by the media, and by Joe Public, without careful thought as to what our pet situation will be in ten or twenty years if nobody’s breeding!

  6. PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have assisted authorities and testified in court cases (generally as intervenors) AGAINST “pit bulls”, FOR breed bans, and FOR the destruction of existing dogs that have not demonstrated any aggression.
  7. PETA members have been convicted in cases involving taking dogs from shelters under the premise of adopting them out elsewhere, killing them in their van in the shelter parking lot, and dumping the bodies into dumpsters in the same town.
  8. The HSUS publicly advocated the destruction of newborn puppies from a dog breeder, puppies that had not yet had the opportunity to be affected environmentally.

    Thus, their only criteria for promoting this option must have been the breed of the dog (in this case, “pit bull” types).

    This directly contradicts their organization’s policy on dangerous dog legislation:

    “The HSUS opposes legislation aimed at eradicating or strictly regulating dogs based solely on their breed…While breed is one factor that contributes to a dog’s temperament, it alone cannot be used to predict whether a dog may pose a danger to his or her community.”

  9. Mandatory microchipping and registering is a method of tracking dogs that ultimately results in tracking dog owners, along with their personal and private information, locations of residence and employment, and breed ownership.

    Once this information has been obtained, there are little or no guarantees of privacy. This information can easily become available for enforcement of future bans or spay/neuter laws.

    Read this article to understand the ramifications of mandatory microchipping.

  10. The solution promoted by animal rights groups that is probably the most dangerous to dog owners is the gradual movement away from the concept of “ownership” towards “guardianship” in the law, under the guise of fighting animal cruelty.

    The argument is that, if pets are no longer property, then the government has more power to prosecute and prevent animal abuse.

    Read here and here to see how this can affect your ability to make decisions regarding your own pet’s health, training, and welfare.

  11. Finally, in response to a reader’s comments that the Ontario “pit bull” ban was NOT engineered or assisted by animal rights activists, I invite you to consider two things:

    First, Attorney General Michael Bryant’s ONLY statistics during his “banned, banned” press conference came from Animal People News, an extremist anti-“pit bull”, anti-Rottweiler, animal rights magazine.

    Second, read this article for an analysis of his “Where’s the humanity in that?” presentation to the Legislative Committee. It is clearly driven by an animal rights agenda.

Attorney General of Ontario wins Code of Silence award

I may be wrong, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen a newspaper article about the Ontario Liberal government’s “code of silence”. It’s about time.

You can visit the Toronto Star article, but this is such an important issue, I’ve included the full text of the article below. My apologies to the Star, but I don’t want this one to disappear into the archives.

Also see a similar response from the Attorney General’s office to the Ontario PC Party regarding the costs of implementing and defending the province’s “pit bull” ban.

These guys have clearly forgotten that they are public servants, accountable to the people. On October 10, I, for one, will be making sure they remember.

Arrogance of this magnitude should not be rewarded with success at the polls.

Original Toronto Star article May 24 2007:

Attorney General wins Code of Silence award

May 24, 2007
Tracey Tyler

His government charges fees for the right to look at a public court file.

It also has a policy that blocks access to important documents filed during trials.

And today, for keeping up a wall between the public and the justice system, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant will be presented with the Code of Silence Award, which recognizes “the most secretive government body in Canada.”

Bryant will be handed the brass padlock by the Canadian Association of Journalists at its global investigative journalism conference at the downtown Hilton.

He was singled out for imposing the highest fees in Canada for public access to court records – $32 to simply view a file.

Bryant’s ministry also charges $2 a page for photocopying documents – fees that can easily add up to hundreds of dollars, a sum beyond the reach of many members of the public and journalists reporting on the courts.

Association president Paul Schneidereit calls it “a public issue, not a media issue.”

“The bottom line is, do we want to have a democracy, or do we want to have a chequebook democracy – where democracy and what it stands for is only available if you can write a big enough cheque?” he asked.

Court files contain “some of the most fundamental public records” and should not be hidden behind “outrageous” fees, Schneidereit said.

Bryant was named the recipient of the award last year. He agreed to collect it in person today at the conference – the first recipient to ever do so.

“He is pleased to be invited,” said Greg Crone, his chief of staff. Ironically, Bryant created a Justice and the Media Committee last year for the purpose of increasing openness and access in the justice system.

At the CAJ conference, Bryant plans to update journalists on the Justice and the Media Committee’s work and make an announcement, Crone said.

Schneidereit said Bryant has also agreed to answer questions during a “town hall” session.

Nominees for the 2007 award include the foreign affairs department for denying the existence of documents related to the treatment of Afghan detainees and Transport Canada for fighting to keep aviation safety data under wraps.

The Ontario government is also in the running, once again – this time for refusing to give the provincial Ombudsman the power to investigate hospitals. Ontario is the only Canadian province where hospitals are not open to such scrutiny.


In a previous article, I mentioned the concept of dogs just being property, so Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels seem to think it’s okay to do what you want with them.

I want to make sure that readers are perfectly clear where I stand on the issue of property, so that I don’t get lumped in with animal rights groups that think nobody should own pets.

As far as I’m concerned, it should be legal to:

  • own dogs, responsibly
  • breed dogs, responsibly
  • train dogs, responsibly
  • work with or play with dogs, responsibly
  • make health and welfare decisions about your dogs

It should be (and sometimes already is) illegal to:

  • fight dogs
  • torture them
  • abuse them
  • fail to care for them
  • breed them without conscience or concern

In Canada, we don’t even have property rights in our constitution, but in the United States, the right to own property does not equal the right to do what you want, when you want, with whatever you want, regardless of the pain suffered by others or the consequences caused.

We have the right to own cars. We don’t have the right to race them.

We have the right to own land. We don’t have the right to build whatever we want on that land without respect for the environment around it.

We have the right to raise our children and make decisions for them. We don’t have the right to put their health and welfare in jeopardy while making those decisions.

In other words, in many areas of law and life, we have the right to do something, within the boundaries of reasonableness.

Animal ownership is reasonable. Animal abuse is not.

Definitely all brawn and no brains

It’s not enough that Michael Vick is being investigated for dogfighting. Now two of his NFL co-Neanderthals are defending him.

Now, considering the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”, I could understand comments like “I don’t believe that Vick would do that” or “He didn’t know what was going on”, etc.

But, no, in an MSN article and video, Clinton Portis, the Washington Redskins’ version of the missing link, says, “It’s his property. It’s his dog. If that’s what he wants to do, do it.”

In other words, feel free to break the law and torture animals. No problem. That’s your right.

And a teammate of Vick’s, Chris Samuels, is right there in the video defending Vick as well. I’m not sure why the newspapers are focusing only on Portis, because it’s clear that Samuels also thinks it’s just fine.

What strikes me the most about the video is how funny these jokers think this is, to take two animals, stick them in a pit, and watch them tear the crap out of each other. But hey, who cares, they’re just property, right? Do whatever you want with them. Illegal? Oh, well, dogfighting doesn’t really count, according to Portis and Samuels.

Kevin Hench has written a great response to this video. Thanks for saying what I’m sure a lot of us feel, Kevin.

New date for Ontario legal remedy: June 28, 2007

Lawyers for both sides will be back in front of the judge on June 28, 2007.

When I find out time and location, I will post it here.

The basic decision of the judge, as far as I understand it, is that the following parts of the law are unconstitutional:

  1. The phrase “pit bull includes”;
  2. The phrase “pit bull terrier” as a definition of a restricted dog;
  3. The use of only a document from a veterinarian as proof of breed, thus placing onto the defendant the burden of the costs of cross-examination and calling of experts to refute the document.

The full text of the judge’s decision is here.

Here is a plain English interpretation of what could happen, courtesy of the Fundamental Freedoms Project:

The Charter is a part of Canada’s Constitution, and is included in the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 gives courts the power to say that a law that violates the Charter is not valid. You can ask a court to make such a declaration. When applying section 52, a court might:
  • strike out the part of the law that violates the Charter
  • interpret a law narrowly so that it fits Charter rights
  • ‘read in’ features to the law so that it meets Charter requirements
  • declare that you are not covered by the law that violates your Charter rights (a ‘constitutional exemption’)

When do we start asking why?

At Yahoo news, there was a small story about a dog that severed a child’s ear in Surrey, British Columbia, near Vancouver, last Tuesday.

The breed of the dog (Rottweiler) was mentioned five times in the tiny 160 word article.

Neighbours were reported as being “shocked” that a Rottweiler was living on their street, as if the dog were a convicted sex offender or mass murderer. One neighbour was quoted as saying, “If they’ve got Rotties here, we’d like to know since we live across the street”.

When are people going to start asking why an attack happened, instead of just chalking it up to the type of dog? When are newspapers going to start including dog bite prevention tips, as recommended by the jury in the Courtney Trempe inquest and by the American Veterinary Medical Association, instead of just reporting the attack?

As someone involved in dog training and in dog bite prevention, it pains me to see comments like those above. This dog did NOT tear off a child’s ear because it was a Rottweiler. A very small dog could do the same thing just as easily. Have you ever seen some of these small guys catch a squirrel or a rabbit? Not pretty.

This dog bit for any number of the following reasons:

  • Child in a friend’s home. The number one scenario for dog bites, often because the dog is not used to children or is not used to that particular child or doesn’t see that child as part of its pack;
  • Child petting a dog that (clearly) didn’t want to be petted. Very common situation. Thank God most dogs let it happen without retaliating. In the dog world, an unsolicited approach is often considered bad manners, worthy of a reprimand (with teeth).
  • Older dog. Often older dogs have health issues, perhaps arthritis or an ear infection, that can cause irritation and pain.
  • Did the dog have a bone or a toy?

These are just a few of many possible reasons for this bite, none of which have to do with breed.

Statistics show that the vast majority of bites (and deaths) happen to a child under 12 in their own residence, a relative’s residence, or a friend’s residence and by every breed on the planet. Often, the child and dog are unsupervised.

A little common sense. A little reading on the Internet or at the local book store. A little recognition that a dog is an animal, not a human with fur. A little bit of admitting that your child doesn’t know how to act around dogs or that your dog doesn’t know how to act around children. A little brain usage, please!

One more scarred child. One more dead dog. Not because of the type of dog, but because human parents and human dog owners didn’t use their brains.

Animal rights? Sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy!

If I see one more newspaper article about impending anti-dog legislation describing opponents as “animals rights activists”, I think I’ll be throwing red paint on that reporter!

To reiterate:

Most animal rights organizations, such as PETA, have, as one of their ultimate objectives, the end of all pet ownership, regardless of the species or breed of animal. They see breed bans and mandatory spay/neuter as a means to that end.

Accordingly, they fully support the implementation of breed-specific legislation. Not only don’t they fight it, but they often provide behind-the-scenes advice to those legislators to include as many restrictions as possible on owning and breeding dogs of many different types.

Publicly, they will not come right out and support the killing of existing dogs, although that is a natural consequence of breed banning. In reality, however, they are more than willing to get their hands dirty “euthanizing” dogs of any breed, as shown in the following articles:

PETA kills animals

PETA cruelty trial

Animal rights groups are a danger

Animal welfare organizations are concerned with the proper treatment of owned animals, whether they are pets, working animals, farm animals, or animals ultimately destined to become food. They are also heavily involved in rehoming lost, abandoned, and surrendered pets.

Dog legislation activists tend to focus on the rights of people rather than the rights of animals. They are often active in animal welfare roles as well, but the focus of their legislation activism is the right of a citizen to be treated the same as any other citizen, regardless of the dog that they own.

This includes the right to own property, the right to be safe from arbitrary and discriminatory search and seizure, the right to live where they want to live, the right to walk down a street without fear of vigilantism and harassment, and the right to be unmolested by authorities because of their dog’s appearance.

Media people, please get it right!

I am not an “animal rights activist”. In fact, that’s getting pretty close to libel, because I do not ever want to be associated with organizations like PETA and I believe that my own reputation, and that of my colleagues, is damaged each time a reporter gets it wrong.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am absolutely against any form of animal cruelty, regardless of species or breed. Throughout my life, I have fought to save numerous pets and I believe strongly in effective anti-cruelty legislation.

But, please, don’t lump me in with PETA, or the badly named Humane Society of the United States, or Animal People News, or Animal Advocates of British Columbia. We are NOT the same animal!

  • I do not want to be associated with any organization that is dedicated to ending the ownership of all pets.
  • I do not want to be associated with any organization that secretly kills dogs when pretending to be rescuing them.
  • I do not want to be associated with any organization that is willing to lie, steal, and cheat to prevent me from owning the dog of my choice and that, given a fraction of an opportunity, would take that dog from me and kill it.
  • I do not want to be associated with any organization that uses its contributors’ funds to do the exact opposite of what many of its members believe is being done.

Attacks on letter carriers in Winnipeg: not a "pit bull"

A pet owner in Winnipeg now has to pick up his mail four kilometres away from his house because of the animal’s aggressive behaviour towards letter carriers.

Here are some of the descriptions from the news story:

“aggressive and threatening the letter carrier”

“unsafe for the letter carrier to deliver the mail”

“we have quite a history with this [animal]”

“it has attacked letter carriers three times”

“letter carriers have been growled at [and] stalked”

“because of its aggressive behaviour, we’re not sure if it has rabies”

“when a CBC camera operator returned to get more pictures, the [animal]…bared his fangs”

Actually, it looks like someone may have simply recycled on old “pit bull” story.

Click here to read the whole CBC story

The worst Canadian

The Beaver, the online magazine of Canada’s National History Society, is asking Canadians to suggest the worst Canadian.

I chose Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario, for the following reasons.

  • Violated the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of average Ontario citizens;
  • Created a law that can put people in prison based on the “best guess” of a completely unqualified person;
  • Caused the deaths of thousands of adult dogs, as well as newborn puppies, without proof of harm or even potential harm;
  • Publicly made false statements to support his view;
  • Asked for, and then completely ignored, overwhelming expert advice against his proposal;
  • With the help of the leader of the Liberal Party, Dalton McGuinty, forced all party members to vote in favour of his proposal, even though many of them did not understand the Act or its far-reaching consequences to human rights and average law-abiding citizens;
  • Ignored the pleas and testimony of victims of bites by many other non-targeted dogs;
  • Wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars chasing a non-existent breed of dog and defending that decision against a constitutional challenge, then claimed “lawyer-client privilege” to avoid having to reveal to the public the true cost of his discriminatory campaign;
  • Publicly stated that his law has been successful in reducing bites by certain types of dogs, when it is scientifically, statistically, and legally impossible to obtain that information;
  • Publicly stigmatized average Ontario dog owners as criminals, drug dealers, and gangsters;
  • Overstated and exaggerated the public image and danger of a particular group of dogs, knowing full well that this would promote vigilantism against law-abiding citizens;
  • Created a law that allows the suspected existence of a particular dog to override constitutionally protected rights against unreasonable search and seizure and that allows police to enter ANY private home without a warrant;
  • Made my life hell, simply because my dog MIGHT look like something that someone, somewhere, is afraid of.

Please visit the Beaver website and let’s send this man to the top of the list of really, really bad people.

NOTE: The website says that you can vote three times, so please do.

Date for remedy re Ontario constitutional challenge

UPDATE April 30
June 14 will NOT be the date. Waiting for new date from lawyer.

Lawyers for both sides will be back in front of the judge on June 14, 2007.

When I find out time and location, I will post it here.

The basic decision of the judge, as far as I understand it, is that the following parts of the law are unconstitutional:

  1. The phrase “pit bull includes”;
  2. The phrase “pit bull terrier” as a definition of a restricted dog;
  3. The use of only a document from a veterinarian as proof of breed, thus placing onto the defendant the burden of the costs of cross-examination and calling of experts to refute the document.

The full text of the judge’s decision is here.

Here is a plain English interpretation of what could happen, courtesy of the Fundamental Freedoms Project:

The Charter is a part of Canada’s Constitution, and is included in the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 gives courts the power to say that a law that violates the Charter is not valid. You can ask a court to make such a declaration. When applying section 52, a court might:
  • strike out the part of the law that violates the Charter
  • interpret a law narrowly so that it fits Charter rights
  • ‘read in’ features to the law so that it meets Charter requirements
  • declare that you are not covered by the law that violates your Charter rights (a ‘constitutional exemption’)

We can spend your money and you can’t find out where or how much!

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario recently asked the province’s Attorney General (of the Liberal Party) to give them some information about how much it has cost Ontario taxpayers to ban a non-existent dog.

Below is the response, printed with the permission of the PC party.

Do you really want to vote for Dalton McGuinty’s and Michael Bryant’s Liberal Party when they clearly use privacy protection laws to deliberately prevent taxpayers from identifying an incredible waste of money and they cannot (or will not) track how much time their own lawyers have spent on this issue?

Ministry of the Attorney General
Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy
720 Bay Street
5th Floor
Toronto ON M5G 2K1
Telephone: (416) 326-4300
Facsimile: (416) 326-4307

March 23, 2007

Private & Confidential

Policy Advisor
PC Research and Services
Rm. 200 North Wing
Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A8

Re: Our File Number MAG-A-2007-00195 / hk

This is in response to your request for access to information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) for the legal costs associated with all aspects of defending the constitutional challenge against Bill 132, Dog Owners’ Liability Act.

The respondent was represented in the Cochrane v. Ontario application by counsel of the Ministry of the Attorney General. No accurate cost can be assigned to the work of counsel and support staff at the Ministry because they are all salaried employees.

Records containing information relating to legal expenditures have been identified. Please be advised that access to the records at issue in this request is denied under s. 19 of the Act, which protects material subject to solicitor-client privilege and records prepared by or for Crown counsel for use in giving legal advice or in contemplation of or for use in litigation.

In addition, for some records, access is denied under s. 21 of the Act, as disclosure would constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy, and under s. 18(1)(c)-(e) of the Act, as the records contain information where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the economic interests of an institution, information where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the financial interests of the Government of Ontario, and positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of an institution or the Government of Ontario.

A copy of the relevant sections of the Act is enclosed for your reference.

The person responsible for making this decision is Stephen Patterson, Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Legal Services Division.

You may, within thirty days from the date of receipt of this letter, appeal the Ministry’s decision, to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 1A8, telephone (416) 326-3333 or 1-800-387-0073. An Appeal fee of $25.00 is required by cheque or money order, made payable to the Minister of Finance.

In the event of an appeal, please provide the Information and Privacy Commissioner with a copy of this decision letter and the original request for information you sent to this office.

Yours truly,

Ruth Maillard


How much public money has been wasted on the Ontario dog ownership ban?

How much public money has been wasted on the Ontario dog ownership ban?

We are asking EVERY ONTARIO RESIDENT to contact their MPP and ask them how to file a Freedom of Information request with the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Finance (if necessary) in order to obtain the following information.

You can find your MPP by riding at:


or by your postal code at:


The Ontario Legislature website is likely to be the most accurate, so if you use the Elections Ontario site, make sure you double-check the MPP for your riding using the Legislature site.

Please clip and paste the following and email it to your MPP.


I am asking you to tell me how to file a Freedom of Information request with the Provincial Ministry of the Attorney General and if necessary, the Ministry of Finance, regarding expenditures associated with Bill 132/Amendments to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act of Ontario, 2005. I would like to know how much public money was spent on the following items.

I would also appreciate your raising this question in the House.

1. Press releases and conferences announcing the intent to ban ‘pit bulls’ in Ontario

2. Expenses and honoraria for affidavits and other information solicited from extramural experts in 2004/2005 such as Alan Beck, any private law firms and others in Canada and the US whom the government may have consulted prior to holding Committee Hearings in winter 2005.

3. Public hearings conducted by the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly on January 24, January 27, February 2, February 3, 2005 including:

a) Research costs
b) Supplies including photocopying, paper, postage
c) Travel Expenses for Committee members
d) Any payments made to witnesses at the hearings
d) Venues, audiovisual, computer and other equipment costs
e) All other costs associated with the hearings.

4. Costs associated with preparation of the Report by Committee.

5. Training costs for Animal Control officers in Ontario.

6. Dissemination of notices and other information to the public, educating them about the provisions in the law.

7. Legal Fees:

a) Expert testimony including travel expenses and honoraria for Alan Beck, Tom Skeldon, and any other witness expenses associated with pre-trial examinations
b) Legal fees associated with preparation of the defence, including hourly rate, number of hours spent
c) Research costs relative to the defence including time and materials
d) Legal fees for barristers to present arguments in Ontario Superior Court on May 15, 16 and 18, 2006 and to argue three motions
e) Costs specifically associated with the motion filed in summer 2006 and argued in Superior Court on December 21, 2006 including costs for reports, witness testimony, travel expenses, research costs, lawyer fees (internal and external), courts costs, material costs and any other pertinent expenditures.
f) Any other expenses related to defending the constitutional challenge to the amended Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 2005
g) Fees paid to the Court

8. Any other costs not listed above relative to the matter described.

Please let me know when you have filed the request and when I can expect to receive the information.

Thank you very much for your time and effort.



Voting without knowledge or understanding

Don’t know how I missed this before.

The Ontario committee hearings on the Dog Owners’ Liability Act were a constant flow of politicians (members of provincial parliament), with no one day containing the same nine members of the committee. I really don’t know how they managed to vote intelligently without personally hearing (or reading) all of the evidence.

I also happen to know that the answers to all the committee’s requests for more information arrived at the desks of the individual committee members THE NIGHT BEFORE they were to vote on the Bill. Two large boxes of presentations, CD’s, research papers, and summaries were deposited at each of the members’ offices.

It would not have been possible for them to read the answers to their own questions before being required to vote the next day!

That’s not even the worst part.

Two Liberal MPP’s (Kuldip Kular and John Wilkinson) did not attend ANY of the committee hearings, yet were two of the five Liberal members to vote on the amendments, pretending that they even had a clue what was going on without having heard a single word of any of the presentations.

Kuldip Kular is the MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale and can be contacted here.

John Wilkinson is the MPP for Perth-Middlesex and can be contacted here.

Feel free to let them know how you feel.

If you want to find out for yourself who attended the hearings each day and who voted later, you can visit the following links:

Committee (Toronto) – January 24 2006

Committee (Barrie) – January 27 2006

Committee (Brantford) – February 2 2006

Committee (Toronto) – February 3 2006

Committee (Voting) – February 10 2006

Pit bull owner acquitted of felony charges

Hewitt A. Grant, subject of the St. Petersburg Times story “Kennel Trash”, has been convicted of 80 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and has been sentenced to 364 days in jail, 5 years of probation and 500 hours of community service at the animal shelter that cared for his abused dogs.

Below are two articles from the Times regarding Grant’s conviction and sentence.

Read my original article Killing Dogs in Florida about the “Kennel Trash” story.

Oh, and a special (sarcastic) thank you to the Humane Society of the United States, who stuck their Animal Rights nose into the fray and insisted that all 139 dogs had to be killed because they were “bred for fighting”. Although this man was clearly neglectful, irresponsible, and way out of his depth, resulting in obvious animal abuse, the court did NOT believe that he was using the dogs for fighting.

Guess that’s just too bad for those “fighting dogs”. They’re still dead.

Pit bull owner acquitted of felony charges

Published January 11, 2007

The pit bull owner featured in a Times story called “Kennel Trash” in July was convicted Tuesday of 80 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Polk County jurors, however, acquitted Hewitt A. Grant II of Nichols of 43 counts of felony animal cruelty and one count of possessing equipment for baiting or fighting. Grant’s sentencing is scheduled for later this month. Many of the 139 dogs confiscated from his property last January had to be euthanized. “The jury didn’t think he was into the dogfighting, and they didn’t think he intentionally hurt the dogs,” said Julia Williamson, Grant’s attorney. “I’m very satisfied with the verdict. Hewitt is very disappointed.” To read the “Kennel Trash” story and an interview with Grant, visit links.tampabay.com.

Source: http://www.sptimes.com/2007/01/11/State/Pittbull_owner_aquitt.shtml

Jail, shelter time in dog cruelty case

By Kelley Benham
Published January 26, 2007

Hewitt A. Grant II, convicted of 80 counts of animal cruelty, will serve time in the place he is most hated – Polk County Animal Control.

A judge on Thursday sentenced the former pit bull owner to 364 days in jail, 5 years of probation and 500 hours of community service at the animal shelter that cared for his abused dogs. Grant’s case was profiled in last year’s Floridian story “Kennel Trash.”

A year ago today, officers from Polk County Animal Control and the Sheriff’s Office raided Grant’s property in Mulberry. At the sentencing Thursday, officer Mary Kirkland described that scene to the judge: “An ocean of frail bodies covered the property. Pitiful little eyes gazed on with curiosity at the activity surrounding them.”

She described heavy chains, battle scars, and puppies that ate “like piranhas” when the officers fed them. Many of Grant’s dogs were sick and starving and had to be euthanized immediately.

The jury that found him guilty of the 80 misdemeanors this month acquitted Grant on 43 felony cruelty charges and on a charge of owning equipment for baiting or fighting.

All of his pit bulls, deemed unsuitable for adoption because of their breed and ownership history, were eventually euthanized at animal control.

Source: http://www.sptimes.com/2007/01/26/Tampabay/Jail__shelter_time_in.shtml

Those Born 1930-1979!

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930’s 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s !!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking. As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-Aid made with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING !

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound or CDs, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms……. WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If YOU are one of them . . . CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?!

Ontario Legislature website changes

The Ontario Legislature has redesigned its website, making many old links invalid. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites (mostly opposed to their legislation) that often link directly to documents on the Legislature site. I’m enough of a conspiracy nut to consider the possibility that the government did this to deliberately break all the links from those sites. Makes it much harder for people to find out the truth if they can’t find the info, no?

Anyway, courtesy of Caveat, here are the new links to information about Bill 132 and the Dog Owners’ Liability Act:

Bill 132 Main Page

Status of the Bill

Read the Debates (including the Committee Hearings)

What the Bill is About

Acts Affected

I am working on updating all posts that contain links to the Legislature site, as well as links on this blog’s sidebar.

Guilty by association


These are but a few of the many experiences that some, if not most, owners of certain types of dogs must endure on a regular and frequent basis.

As a direct result of the disinformation spouted by mainstream media organizations and by publicity-seeking politicians, many average citizens seem to feel that it’s perfectly acceptable, perhaps even necessary, to harass, threaten, and assault other law-abiding citizens.

From the Dog Politics blog, here are some examples of these types of actions:

  • People crossing the street, or screaming and cursing at a dog owner;
  • Denial of accomodations at a hotel or campground, or access to a park;
  • Disabled persons with service dogs being asked to leave a store or restaurant;
  • Physical assaults including spitting, kicking, throwing of rocks, cans, bottles.

If you think these are exaggerations or unusual occurrences, I can tell you from personal experience that they’re not! All of the above have occurred to either myself or close friends – not just once, but multiple times – in some cases with very serious physical consequences.

I have also received many reports of similar experiences from other dog owners, particularly those in Ontario, Canada.

Dog Politics, My Dog Votes, Love Does Not Discriminate, along with average dog owners throughout the world, have had enough!

Everyone now has the opportunity to fight back by helping to create a database of every act of discrimination and harassment against dogs and their owners, worldwide.

You can now report media bias against specific dog breeds or types, insurance discrimination against dog owners, and assault or harassment of dogs and their owners.

To report MEDIA BIAS, click here.


To report ASSAULT OR HARASSMENT, click here.

Read the full Dog Politics story here.

Fantino on irresponsible driving

Julian Fantino, current Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner (chief), former Toronto Police chief, former Ontario Commissioner of Emergency Management, and key supporter of Ontario’s pit bull ban during that law’s committee hearings, has decided to focus his police force, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on an all-out effort to end senseless highway tragedies.

I have no problem with his new approach (with the exception of cancelling the always charming Sergeant Cam Woolley’s reports). The problem I have is that, in two very similar scenarios, his choices are alarmingly different.

During the committee hearings into Ontario’s proposed (and eventually passed) changes to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, it appeared that the former Toronto Police Chief’s testimony regarding the dangers police officers faced from “pit bulls” was one of the primary persuading arguments in favour of the new legislation. Purporting to represent the entire force, despite my own conversations with individual officers who thought the law was silly, Fantino presented a strong authority figure whose arguments could not be disputed without appearing to be anti-police.

Here are some quotes from his testimony:

“Many people consider these dogs to be wonderful house pets. But I can tell you from our experiences that these dogs are used as weapons.”

“These are not cases where pit bulls have been in the home as the family dog; rather, as I’ve already mentioned, these are cases where pit bulls have been trained to guard the home and attack intruders, including the police. In reality, they have been trained to attack and are being actively used as weapons. In these cases, our tactical officers on the emergency task force have had to retrain in order to deal with these dogs, and they do so on a regular basis.”

“Our emergency task force officers say that, on average, one in four of the warrants they execute is at a place where there is a pit bull.”

Fantino’s full presentation before the committee can be found here.

Even though he stated multiple times that he was specifically referring to dogs owned and trained by criminals, he seemed more than happy to support a law that targeted hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Ontario dog owners.

Now compare his comments above to his quoted comments from a Toronto Star story about the OPP’s new approach to road safety:

“Every one of these collisions was preventable, every one the tragic consequence of inappropriate driving behaviour. I found we were focusing in certain areas when we should be looking at all the areas that contribute to diminished traffic safety. And that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

“I believe that in the hands of an irresponsible person, a motor vehicle is no less dangerous than a loaded firearm in the hands of an equally irresponsible individual. In reality, the potential trauma is tragically similar and the consequences equally unacceptable.”

I would like to point out to Mr. Fantino that, if he simply changed all the words “collisions”, “driving”, “traffic”, and “motor vehicle” to “dog bite incidents”, “dog ownership”, and “dog”, he would find himself arguing in favour of strict responsible dog ownership laws and higher penalties for infractions. He would not be able to blame the dogs, as he did in the past.

He would be forced, by his own words here, to lay the blame solely at the feet of irresponsible owners.

The full Toronto Star story can be found here.

Advice from an expert

Every morning, a quotation pops up on my computer. I was particularly struck by today’s.

“What luck for rulers that men do not think.”

The speaker was Adolf Hitler.

As 2006 ends, I and many others have spent the last two years fighting Ontario’s pit bull ban. An online conversation this morning discussed people’s blind acceptance of blatantly false and disproved statements from politicians and “authorities”.

My morning quotation fit in perfectly with that conversation.

I did a quick search for other quotes by Hitler and found a few, mostly from The Quotations Page, Brainy Quote, and Nazism Exposed.

I have not been able to confirm the sources of these quotations. I have no idea if Hitler really said them. They’re just food for thought.

All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.

Anyone who sees and paints a sky green and fields blue ought to be sterilized.

It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.

The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.

The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.

The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category.

The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.

What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.

When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.”

Gotta love partisan politics

On Thursday, December 21, 2006, the last day before the Ontario Legislature’s winter break, members of Provincial Parliament voted on two bills. I find the voting on these two bills disappointing and disturbing.

The first bill was Bill 178 – The Truth and Transparency in the Justice System Act.

This is a private member’s bill introduced by John Tory. Its stated purpose is to provide more detailed reporting about the way in which various types of offences are handled by judges throughout Ontario.

The bill was shot down upon its second reading by a vote of 26 to 17. Although this seems close, my knowledge of the way things work in the Legislature is that the majority party was well aware of how many votes it would take to defeat the bill and only that many members voted. This view is supported by the voting on the second bill.

The second bill was Bill 173 – The Legislative Assembly Statute Law Amendment Act.

This sounds innocent enough until you realize that this is the bill that raises MPP’s salaries by 25% and increases their pension from 5% to 10%, resulting in an effective salary increase of 31%.

I cannot say how disappointed I was that the Conservatives chose to vote for this increase.

The vote was 77 to 7 in favour of the bill. Only the NDP voted against it. Interesting how a lot more Liberal members showed up for this vote.

Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star has some good comments about this bill.

In a following article, I will be providing a list of who voted on each bill, which way they voted, and to which political party they belong.

In the meantime, this information is available on the Ontario Legislature website. See for yourself how your MPP voted on these two bills.

Note the second-to-last sentence by the Speaker of the House: “This House stands adjourned until … Monday, March 19, 2007.”

That’s three months away. Nice work, if you can get it.

To find out who the MPP is for your riding, click here.

Petitions to the Ontario Government

From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation website, a number of petitions to the Government of Ontario, in particular to Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Premier McGuinty honour your pledge

On the 11th of September 2003 you signed a pledge to uphold the Taxpayers’ Protection and Balanced Budget Act if your party formed the next government of Ontario.

Property Tax Reform

Property tax reform in Ontario

No New Municipal Taxes

We call on the government of Ontario to repeal the taxing powers given to the City of Toronto under the “Stronger City of Toronto Act” and that these powers not be extend to any other municipality in the province.

Conduct a full forensic audit of Hydro One and fire President and CEO with cause

We, the undersigned taxpayers, call on the government of Ontario to conduct a full forensic audit into Hydro One. Any individual found to have falsified expense claims should be forced through legal means to repay amounts owing.

Ask Taxpayers if MPP’s deserve a pay raise

The 25% proposed pay raise for MPP’s is outrageous. You have justified the raise by comparing your salary and MPP salaries to those of MP’s in Ottawa. Unfortunately, while Ottawa continually balances the books your government has yet to deliver on your pledge to not raise taxes and maintain balanced budgets. Even more troubling, your government is trying to fast-track this legislated pay raise without consulting taxpayers.

And, last but not least, from the Dog Legislation Council of Canada:

Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

This is why we are where we are!

I received the following comment today regarding my “Ontario Bans Pit Bulls” article. This text is copied and pasted from the original comment, including all spelling and grammatical errors.

“Guest what? I’m breeding pittbulls because i have a male and a female pitt bull and they are having puppies. You can’t do nothing about it Ha Ha.”

Clearly, this person must not have read much else on this blog or they’d have no doubts that I’m AGAINST the legislation and I’m certainly not running around trying to find secret breeders.

To clarify:

I am against mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs. I am most definitely against mandatory spay/neuter for specific breeds. I am in favour of public education regarding unnecessary breeding, unhealthy breeding, and puppy mills. I am somewhat in favour of financial incentives to spay/neuter, but I’m still not sure about that one.

I actually end up fighting unwillingly for this owner’s right to breed dogs because of the need to fight for the right of responsible people to breed dogs.

I hope this person realizes the potential consequences of their actions if they get caught:

  • Mandatory death for both parent dogs.
  • Mandatory death for the puppies.
  • Charges to the owners under the Dog Owners’ Liability Act with penalties of up to $10,000 in fines and up to six months in jail.

I hope it’s worth the risk to you and your dogs, buddy.

MPP’s "mad as hell" at Kormos

Over the past two years, I have truly come to appreciate Peter Kormos, Ontario MPP for Niagara Centre.

As a senior member of the New Democratic Party of Ontario, Peter holds the posts of Justic Critic, Labour Critic, Consumer Protection Critic, and Community Safety Critic.

During the House debates and Committee hearings on the Ontario Liberal Party’s Bill 132 amendments to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, Peter was one of the most vocal critics of the legislation.

Outspoken and direct, he outlined clearly the absurdities, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the law, as well as its constitutional problems.

Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that it’s the duty and responsibility of the Third Party critic to do everything within his power to hold the government accountable and to test the mettle of every new bill. I did feel, however, that Peter truly believed that Bill 132 was bad law.

Now, he’s at it again over the government’s recent introduction of a 31% salary increase for MPP’s. From being kicked out of the legislature last week for refusing to back down, to making a promise that his own salary increase will be donated to charity, to insisting on house debate and committee hearings about the pay hike, Peter is not making a lot of friends in that House.

Note in the following Toronto Star article that Liberal House Leader Jim Bradley is expected to make a motion limiting debate on the subject. This tactic has been used multiple times by the current government in order to ram through controversial legislation.

Ironically, Jim Bradley is Minister of Tourism. As such, he is one of the most frequent recipients of angry letters from potential visitors to Ontario who now refuse to enter the province because of this government’s discriminatory dog legislation. If anyone is aware of public sentiment against laws that are hastily contrived and speedily passed, it should be Mr. Bradley.

The MPP’s are “mad as hell” that they have to work this week and possibly the next. Hmmm, I’ll be working then. So will everyone I know, and not for as much money as these guys. I also don’t get writeoffs and perks, nor do I work for only six months of the year. Unlike the MPP’s, I’m also expected to show up for work every day.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ontario government accused of misleading the public

A ruling from Advertising Standards Canada has found newspaper and television ads (by the Ontario government) this fall falsely suggested that people who visited a government website or phoned a hotline could find new ways to get treatment faster.

Misleading the public again?

This by the government responsible for the “pit bull” fiasco, the roasting by the Auditor General for misuse of public funds, and then a self-imposed 31% pay increase?

We really have to get rid of these guys in October. This is getting ridiculous.

Read the whole story from the Toronto Star.

Ontario Liberals introduce 25% pay raise!

Ontario politicians plan to give themselves a 25 per cent pay increase before the legislature’s Christmas break.

Read the entire story from the Toronto Star.

Unfortunately, the original report from the Star has disappeared due to their new and improved format. In that article, there was a particularly great quote from Liberal MPP Richard Patten:

“I think this is the right thing to do; it’s fairly humble”

“If they don’t (like it), then they can boot us out (in next year’s election).”

Don’t worry, Rick. That’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Dog Owners’ Liability Act of Ontario (2005) Information Sheet

Consolidated plain language interpretation of Ontario’s amended Dog Owners’ Liability Act (2005), courtesy of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada.

Version for viewing (HTML)

Version for printing (PDF)

Information in these documents is intended to provide the reader with a summary of the key elements of the legislation for ease of reading. It should not be construed as authoritative or as legal advice. For a more thorough analysis of the legislation, please contact a lawyer. Information in this document is the copyrighted property of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada. All rights reserved. These documents may be distributed, without alteration of any kind, for the purpose of informing interested parties. Any errors or omissions are unintentional. The Dog Legislation Council of Canada recognizes that the word “pit bull” is often used and misused to apply to many purebred and mixed-breed dogs with varying appearances. Any use of the word “pit bull” by the authors is limited to these documents and is used only for the purpose of referring to dogs that may fall under the government’s definition in the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, its regulations, and the Animals for Research Act. This does not mean that the authors believe there is any such breed as “pit bull” or that any dog can be identified as such.

Front Groups

I received a comment from Anonymous about my previous post, PETA Kills Animals!, stating that “the Center for Consumer Freedom is a front organization…(with) almost zero credibility”.

I do not dispute this. Everyone has an agenda and CCF definitely has one. The following quote is from their “About Us” section:

“The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition of restaurants, food companies, and consumers working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.”

“The Center for Consumer Freedom is supported by restaurants, food companies and more than 1,000 concerned individuals. From farm to fork, our friends and supporters include businesses, employees and consumers.”

Clearly, reading through their website, CCF is biased against animal-rights organizations, particularly those that try to force their own choices on the rest of the world through propaganda, lobbying, and sometimes through violence.

I am also biased against those same organizations, so perhaps I’m a little more willing to use information from CCF’s website. I’m biased against an organization whose stated objective is to end all pet ownership and that supports, and lobbies for, legislation that automatically kills dogs because of the way they look.

That said, having been dealing with “pit bull” mania for years, I know how easy it is for anyone to twist facts and figures to suit their particular purpose and CCF might be no different in that regard.

Perhaps the most important point to remember, regardless of the source on the Internet, is that the documents and statistics shown on the petakillsanimals.com website are from actual documents provided by PETA themselves to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for the years 1998 through 2004.

Take away any hyperbole and propaganda from either side. Ignore, for the moment, the bias that may or may not be spread throughout the CCF website. Look only at the documents provided by PETA themselves. Those documents speak loudly enough.

Bryant is bankrupting Ontario’s Legal Aid system

According to Legal Aid Ontario, grandiose “mega-trials” designed by Ontario’s Attorney General, Michael Bryant, are bankrupting the Legal Aid system, which can now no longer afford to provide assistance to people who truly need it.

Just like with his ill-conceived dog legislation, Bryant has dived headlong into another pet project (no pun intended) without proper research, consultation, or planning, resulting in suffering to people who don’t deserve it.

Another example of something that sounds great to the public in the beginning, but quickly turns into an unmanageable mess.

Read the Toronto Star article here.

PETA Kills Animals!

It’s been almost a month since my last post. To make up for that, I’ll quote an article that’s over nine months old.

The Center for Consumer Freedom has been a consistent critic of extremist animal rights organizations and has been a valuable source of information regarding not only the terrorist measures to which these groups will resort, but also regarding their financial gains from donations by an unwitting, uninformed public.

A press release from March 3, 2006, states that, in 2005, as reported by PETA to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), PETA killed over 90% of the animals that they received at their Norfolk headquarters.

According to a statistics table on a related site, that’s 1,946 killed, 146 adopted, and 69 transferred to other shelters.

Year 2005
Received 2,145
Adopted 146
Killed 1,946
Transferred 69
% Killed 90.7%
% Adopted 6.8%

If you’re a little skeptical, you may want to view earlier original reports (from 1998 to 2004) submitted to the VDACS. This is a PDF file, so you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.

Given PETA President Ingrid Newkirk’s unequivocal support, not only of “pit bull” bans, but also of the automatic destruction of “pit bulls” entering shelters, I wonder how many big-headed dogs with silly grins ended up on the killing floor?

Browsing the web

I was recently browsing the web looking at various sites about breed-specific legislation and I came across a number of pages about Ontario, all of which I’d seen before and forgotten. So, for your reading pleasure, I’ve included them here.

Here is a wonderful petition created by the owners of a dog named Lily, a boxer-lab cross identified by authorities in Kitchener, Ontario, as a “pit bull”. The owners fought this and won. They created this petition to try to hold elected officials accountable for false and misleading statements made to the public.

In January and February 2005, 102 individuals and organizations made presentations to a committee in Ontario. The responsibility of this committee was to listen to public and expert opinion and to make recommendations regarding what was then Bill 132 and what eventually became the Dog Owners’ Liability Act of Ontario. The Dog Legislation Council of Canada has created a summary of those presentations.

It never ceases to amaze me how much information the Ontario government was given on this subject and how much it chose to ignore. Read for yourself the actual presentations and the committee’s final recommendations.

Some insightful comments about “pit bulls” by Antonia Zerbisias, columnist for the Toronto Star. Until recently, Antonia’s American Eskimo, Syd, played regularly with a number of different “pit bull type” dogs. My sincerest condolences to Antonia regarding Syd’s recent passing.

Here are some responses to Peter Worthington’s series of articles in the Toronto Sun, the latest of which was a half-hearted attempt to show both sides of the argument:

Dianne Singer
Bryan Dale
Steve Barker and Bryan Dale

In that same column, he dismisses as proposterous the notion that a Jack Russell Terrier attacked a “pit bull”, which did not respond in kind.

As a dog trainer, I have met the following Jack Russell Terriers:

  • A nine-month old puppy that had bitten each of the five human members of his family multiple times, twice seriously.
  • A two-year-old female that had tried, numerous times, to bite people in the face and could not be trusted to be petted or picked up.
  • A year-old dog that literally tried to kill any other dog that she met.
  • A two-year-old dog that had not had a bone in his house for over a year because he would seriously attack anyone who came near him once he had possession of one.

I actually really liked all of these dogs. They have all had their problems resolved, gradually, and they are wonderful dogs. But don’t tell me that your particular breed won’t bite, just because your own dog happened to be great, and don’t tell me that my dog will attack someone or something, just because you happened to meet one that did.

Here are Worthington’s other articles attacking pit bulls, their owners, and anyone who disagrees with him:

May 18, 2006 – Bite’s worse than its bark
July 5, 2006 – Pitbull attacks columnist’s dog

My own comments on his July article are here.

My final thoughts are with Linda Williamson, editor of the Toronto Sun and outspoken critic of the Ontario legislation. She has left the Sun and has dedicated her final column to her mother, who passed away in May of this year.

Conservatives throw their support behind inadequate animal protection bill

I had started to put this together back in September and then decided to re-read bill S-213 before posting here.

Since that time, Mark Holland, a Liberal from Ajax-Pickering in Ontario, introduced private member’s bill C-373 which is identical to the former C-50. Without a doubt, I would be much more willing to support C-373 over S-213.


August 29, 2006

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies issued a press release today expressing their disappointment with the Federal Conservative government’s decision to support a private members’s bill amending the animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code.


Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
CFHS Legislation Page
CFHS History of Animal Cruelty Legislation
CFHS Legal Analysis

Criminal Code of Canada
Criminal Code of Canada – Current Animal Cruelty Section

Bill C-50 (dead)
Bill C-373
Bill S-213

Ottawa Citizen / Vancouver Sun article courtesy of the Toronto Humane Society

Below are the details from the CFHS.

August 29, 2006

The CFHS learned yesterday that Justice Minister Vic Toews has indicated his government will support Senator Bryden’s private members’ bill, S-213, to amend the animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code. This is extremely disappointing news. Watch for an article in today’s Can-West newspapers (including the National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette) about this unfortunate news. Bill S-213 is identical to Bill S-24, a private members’ bill that Senator Bryden first tabled in February, 2005. As you may recall, Senator Bryden’s bill makes no changes to the offences in the current legislation – which was initially enacted in 1892. Bill S-213 takes only the penalty provisions from the previous government’s bill, C-50, including the prohibition on animal ownership and the restitution clause that allows reimbursement to a person or organization that cared for the animal(s).

We are attaching the media release that we circulated to national news outlets today. As always, you are welcome to use any parts of it that you wish. Also attached is a grid we developed to summarize the problems with Bill C-213. This grid is available on our website, as is the text of the current legislation, Bill S-213 and Bill C-50.

Here are some key points/messages about this development that you may wish to use:

  • S-213 makes no changes to the offences in the current, archaic and inadequate legislation
  • While there is a dire need to increase the sentencing provisions, there are some serious problems with the wording of the current offences that need to be fixed (see the grid for details about these problems) – Bill C-50 would have made such changes
  • It would be outrageous to enact legislation in 2006 that retains the ancient and confusing language of 1892
  • In 2003, Bill C-50 (then called C-22) was supported by the vast majority of Canadians, the Liberal Rural Caucus on behalf of scores of animal industry groups; a coalition of about 35 animal industry groups and, of course, humane societies, SPCAs and other animal protection organizations.
  • In the summer of 2003, Bill C-22 was repeatedly passed unanimously in the House of Commons, but was held up by the Senate, due mostly to concerns about the protection of Aboriginal practices
  • Bill C-50 added a clause to address the concerns about Aboriginal practices
  • The coalition of industry groups (mostly livestock, but some trapping and other animal-use industry groups) that had actively supported C-22, threw their support behind Senator Bryden’s bill last year, mostly based on a legal opinion that has fueled concerns about private prosecutions from animal rights organizations
  • Hunting and fishing groups are convinced that Bill C-50 would make their activities illegal. This is absurd. Hunting and fishing are lawful activities and would no more be illegal than slaughtering animals for food
  • The phrase, ‘lawful excuse’ is what permits people to engage in lawful activities, such as hunting, fishing, farming, trapping, euthanasia or scientific research.
  • Many animal industry groups are also concerned about the only new offence in Bill C-50 – ‘killing an animal brutally or viciously, whether or not the animal dies immediately’. While we do not feel their concerns are valid, we have indicated to industry that we would accept changing this offence to ‘killing an animal with brutal or vicious intent, whether or not the animal dies immediately’.
  • One of the priorities for the Conservative Party is crime prevention and safe communities – Bill S-213 would have negligible impact on violence in our communities

The CFHS will be launching a complete strategy to mobilize Canadians to make their views known on Bill S-213 – we will be sharing this with you and hope to count on your support in your communities as well. In the meantime, please feel free to add a link from your website to the CFHS website, http://www.cfhs.ca/.

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
102 – 30 Concourse Gate
Ottawa, ON K2E 7V7
Tel: 613-224-8072, ext 21
Toll free in Canada: 1-888-678-CFHS (2347)
Fax: 613-723-0252



Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

Conservatives throw their support behind indaquate animal protection bill

Ottawa, August 29, 2006

The Conservative government is putting the welfare of animals and vulnerable Canadians at risk by today announcing it will support a wholly inadequate private members bill to amend the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is disappointed but not surprised that Justice Minister Vic Toews is supporting Bill S-213, says CFHS Chief Executive Office Steve Carroll.

The Conservatives, who campaigned on their efforts to get tough on crime and make Canadian communities safer, are falling short on their own election promises by supporting S-213.

The proposed legislation, introduced this April by Liberal Senator John Bryden, is nearly identical to todays Criminal Code, originally enacted in 1892: it contains the same loopholes, archaic language and inadequacies, and provides only increased penalties. Animal abusers who today slip through the cracks unpunished, will continue to do so under Bill S-213.

The Conservatives are missing a great opportunity to introduce strong, effective legislation that would not only better protect animals and appropriately punish those guilty of animal cruelty: it would also help protect vulnerable citizens from violence, says Mr. Carroll.

In the last decade, extensive research has shown a clear link between violence toward humans and violence toward animals. In domestic violence cases, abuse toward women or children is often noted alongside violence toward animals. And many of the most notable violent offenders like Paul Bernardo and Jeffrey Dahmer were known to have abused animals in their youth. Effective animal cruelty legislation could help stop violence toward animals before it escalates to violence toward people.

The Justice Ministers announcement to support Bill S-213 is the latest setback in a seven-year effort to update the animal cruelty provisions of Canadas Criminal Code. The CFHS supports the reintroduction of effective animal cruelty legislation, similar to the Bill last known as C-50. And while Parliament continues to delay passage of effective legislation, animals continue to suffer, and Canada falls farther and farther behind other developed countries when it comes to animal protection.

Canadian animal lovers need to write to the Prime Minister, the Justice Minsiter and their MP to tell them Bill S-213 just doesnt cut it, adds Mr. Carroll. The government needs to understand Canadians want anti-cruelty laws that will actually make a difference.


For more information, please contact:
Tanya OCallaghan
Communications Coordinator
Tel: 613-224-8072 ext. 12 or 613-808-2475

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
102-30 Concourse Gate, Ottawa, Ontario K2E 7V7 (613) 224-8072 fax: (613) 723-0252 email: info@cfhs.ca

Animal cruelty amendments at a glance


Flaws in current legislation What’s wrong with the current legislation? How does Bill S-213 address it? How would effective legislation address this problem?*
Wilful neglect The wording of the current offence of wilful neglect requires proof of a person’s intent. The requirement that a person intended to neglect their animals makes it extremely difficult to lay charges, as is proven in the following example: A Saskatchewan farmer allowed more than 30 sheep to starve to death and his other animals were emaciated. The SPCA visited numerous times over several months advising him to provide proper feed and bedding. Ultimately he was charged with causing wilful neglect but the judge found him not guilty as he did not feel the farmer intended to starve his animals. No change. Under this legislation, crimes of neglect will continue to be nearly impossible to punish appropriately. Effective legislation introduces the term negligent and defines it as departing markedly from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use.
Killing an animal It is currently an offence to kill an owned animal without lawful excuse. For example, animals may be killed in the pursuit of lawful activities such as farming or research. However, wild or stray animals can be killed for any reason. No change. Bill S-213 still would not extend any protection to wild or unowned animals. Effective legislation makes it an offence to kill any animal without a lawful excuse. Lawful excuse includes hunting, fishing, farming, euthanasia and protection of life and property.
Brutal and vicious The current legislation does not address brutally or viciously killing an animal as a form of violence. Several years ago in Edmonton, two young men tied a dog to a tree and beat it to death with a baseball bat. Because the veterinarian testified that the dog died instantly on the first blow, the men could not be convicted of causing unnecessary pain and suffering. No change. Cases such as this one from Edmonton would continue to go unpunished. Effective legislation makes it an offence to kill an animal with brutal or vicious intent, whether or not the animal dies immediately. This would allow the Criminal Code to address a particularly heinous form of violence in our society.
Different protection for different animals Current legislation refers to different animals and protects them differently. It contains a separate section and offences for cattle and also refers to dogs, birds and other animals. No change. Bill S-213 maintains the confusing language of the current legislation, enacted in 1892. Effective legislation applies to all vertebrates equally whether they are owned or unowned and includes special provisions for the protection of law enforcement animals.
Definition There is currently no definition of animal. No change. Effective legislation includes the following definition: A vertebrate, other than a human being.
Property section Currently, crimes against animals are considered property offences. Contemporary Canadian values place animals as more than just simple property, but rather as feeling, sentient beings. No change. Bill S-213 continues to entrench the century-old concept that animals need to be protected simply as someone’s property. Effective legislation moves animal cruelty out of the property section of the Criminal Code to better reflect modern Canadian values.
Fighting and training The current legislation does not make it an offence to train animals to fight other animals, nor to receive money for the fighting of animals. No change. Effective legislation makes it an offence to train an animal to fight and receive money for animal fighting and training.
Penalties In the current law, the penalties do not appropriately punish perpetrators nor act as a deterrent. The bill also provides different penalties for crimes against cattle. There is currently no provision for cost recoveries for those who provide care and treatment (such as SPCAs, humane societies or veterinarians) of animals who have been abused. Bill S-213 provides greater flexibility in sentencing by allowing animal cruelty crimes to be prosecuted as either summary conviction or indictable offences. Maximum penalties are either a jail term of up to five years and unlimited fines for indictable offences; or fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 18 months for summary convictions. The bill also includes up to a lifetime prohibition on ownership, and those found guilty can be ordered to pay restitution. Effective legislation contains all these penalties, and in addition, applies to unowned animals.

* The problems with current legislation were all addressed in Bill C-50

Bryant: Legislation is overbroad

In a recent National Post news report, Michael Bryant, the Attorney General of Ontario, was quoted as saying that the federal government’s new dangerous offender legislation is “too broad and will catch too many people in its net without zeroing in on the truly dangerous”.

Ironically, the constitutionality of Mr. Bryant’s own dog law is being challenged in the Superior Court of Ontario because of identical flaws. The Attorney General could not have summarized any more clearly the failings of his own legislation.

Mr. Bryant is truly proving himself to be a two-faced animal, although I’m not sure of what breed.

It is deeply troubling that the Attorney General will champion constitutionality, fairness, and the presumption of innocence when it concerns dangerous violent offenders throughout the country, but will not afford the same protection to dog owners in his own province.

The article goes on to state that “Bryant [wants] federal Justice Minister Vic Toews to change the law so that people who are long-term offenders and, therefore, subject to long-term supervision after their release, should be candidates for dangerous-offender status as soon as they breach their probation conditions”.

Imagine that! Targeting people based on their actions!

If he had done that with his own legislation two years ago, he wouldn’t be defending it in front of a judge today.

Yarmouth, NS: Not anti-breed, just anti-dog!

Sigh! Another example of the movement by politicians towards completely isolating dog owners from the rest of society. Another town to add to my list of places in Canada I choose not to visit.

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, is considering banning ALL dogs from the town’s Main Street and possibly from the entire downtown core.

Representatives for the town state that the measure is necessary because of “pooping without scooping”, because “many people feel uncomfortable and nervous around dogs”, because of “how dogs react when they meet other dogs”, and because “getting rid of the dogs would solve the issue of loitering”.

Yarmouth has already banned ALL dogs from Department of Leisure facilities “when people are present”.

Apparently, it’s easier to ban than it is to enforce existing laws. The concept is identical to breed banning, penalizing responsible owners, who are the vast majority, for the irresponsible actions of a few.

Read the whole story here

Euthanasia: sugar coated extermination

As anyone who has read some of my articles knows, I have an aversion to the term “euthanasia” when referring to the killing of dogs that fit a certain physical profile.

Michael Bryant (Attorney General of Ontario), with the support of various Animal Rights groups, has repeatedly used the word to soften the impact of the Ontario breed ban.

I prefer the terms destruction, annihilation, extermination, eradication, or killing.

Various dictionaries define “euthanasia” as:

The act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment.

The act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition.

The act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.

The killing of someone who is very ill to end their suffering.

Friendly, healthy, adoptable dogs do not fit this definition.

I suppose you could argue that killing “pit bulls” is euthanasia, if you believe that “pit bulls” are a disease, a genetic abomination, a Frankenstein of the dog world. If you believe that, then you could argue that they suffer from the “incurable condition” of being a “pit bull” or that they are hopelessly “pit bull”.

If, however, you have met, played with, or lived with one of these dogs, you already know that destruction and extermination are much more accurate descriptions of what is being done on a daily basis to these animals.

The source of the word “euthanasia” is the Greek “euthanatos” (eu + thanatos) meaning “easy death”. It’s supposed to mean that the act is performed in a painless manner.

Maybe we should use it to mean that the mass killing of dogs is EASIER than doing the real work of public education, effective enforcement, and deterrent punishment.

Our minds are made up – don’t confuse us with the facts

After listing every vote on the amendments to Bill 132 by the members of the committee, I was thinking that readers might be interested to read the entire discussion that took place on February 10, 2005, as each of these amendments were considered.

Four people presented amendments:

Norm Miller and Joe Tascona for the Conservatives
Peter Kormos for the New Democrats
David Zimmer for the Liberal party, the creators of the legislation

It’s a long read, but worthwhile. Here are some of my thoughts after reading it again:

  • David Zimmer only confirmed his status in my mind as a weasel of the highest (lowest?) order.
  • The lawyers who worded this legislation, and the government amendments, DON’T HAVE A CLUE! I could have written better stuff on the back of a napkin in Tim Horton’s!
  • A number of the suggestions by the non-government members were symbolic in nature, designed to allow further comments to be placed on record by the person making the motion. They should not be criticized individually, but should be considered as pieces of a whole strategy.
  • A simple review, as I did earlier, of only the motions themselves and their success or failure, misses most of the point. The accompanying comments and arguments show, in detail, the reasons for suggesting each amendment and, even more so, show the attitude of the government to clearly be one of “our minds are made up – don’t confuse us with the facts”.
  • Many of the other parties’ recommendations were designed to reduce dog bites or to eliminate unfairness and vagueness, whereas all of the government recommendations were clearly to cover their legal behinds, to enable them to include more dogs (and their owners), or to make it easier to prosecute.

Here is the full text of the clause-by-clause discussions and voting.

February 10, 2005

And here are the four days of presentations by the public. Each time I re-read these, I am struck again by the massive amount of information and suggestions that were made available to the government, ALL of which were ignored.

January 24, 2005
January 27, 2005
February 2, 2005
February 3, 2005

And people worry about "pit bulls"?

I never cease to be amazed at the inhuman acts one man will do to another man or, in this case, to a woman.

Wife abuser deported to Canada – National Post, September 29, 2006

In case the article disappears, here are some highlights:

A Canadian man who spent six years in a Washington state jail for keeping his wife on a squalid sailboat for years and forcing her to fight with German shepherds for food has been deported to Canada.

By the time police in Everett, Wash., found Linda David stuffed into the bow of the boat amid seven growling dogs in early 1997, she was covered in vomit and faeces. She had suffered brain damage and could barely move. Her ears looked like those of a boxer and scars from scrapping with the dogs crisscrossed her face. She weighed 105 pounds.

Her husband — Victor David, 66, a Canadian citizen — told social workers his wife had multiple sclerosis, and he had been collecting government cheques as her caregiver.

Mrs. David’s brain is so badly damaged she barely remembers the abuse.

After years of therapy, Mrs. David can still only walk a few steps. She suffers from dementia and can barely see because her cataracts went untreated.

“Her brain was pulverized in some places,” said Lynne Fulp, executive director of Partners In Care, the guardianship firm that oversees Mrs. David’s trust. Almost every bone in her body had been broken, she said. “Those bones were allowed to heal without medical attention, so there’s deformity from bones being healed improperly.”

Experts say her brain has shrunk up to 40% from repeated blows.

Now, after only SIX years in prison in Washington State, this man is free to roam Canada. To borrow a phrase from Ontario’s dog legislation, he is clearly a “menace to the safety of persons and domestic animals”.

Bill 132 Amendments

Here is a list of every amendment to Bill 132 proposed by every party on February 10, 2005 during the clause-by-clause voting.

All Liberal amendments were carried (accepted).
All Conservative and New Democrat amendments were lost (rejected).

The transcripts of the four committee hearings held prior to this clause-by-clause voting are at the following links:

January 24, 2005
January 27, 2005
February 2, 2005
February 3, 2005

The transcript of the clause-by-clause voting is at:

February 10, 2005

The text of the bill after these amendments is at:

Bill 132 Third Reading

Thursday 10 February 2005

Liberals: Mr. Kuldip Kular, Mr. Tim Peterson, Mr. Shafiq Qaadri, Mr. Mario G. Racco, Mr. David Zimmer
Conservatives: Mr. Norm Miller, Mr. Joseph N. Tascona
New Democrats: Mr. Peter Kormos

All Liberals voted in favour of their own amendments and against all others.
All Conservatives and New Democrats voted against all Liberal amendments and in favour of all others.

All Liberal amendments were carried (accepted).
All Conservative and New Democrat amendments were lost (rejected).


1 Tascona: I move that the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out.


2 Miller: I move that clause (b) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is Staffordshire Bull Terrier.


3 Kormos: I move that clause (c) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is American Staffordshire Terrier.


4 Kormos: I move that clause (d) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is American Pit Bull Terrier.


5 Kormos: I move that clauses (b), (c) and (d) of the definition of “pit bull”, as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and American Pit Bull Terrier


6 Kormos: I move that clauses (b) and (c) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out. That is Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier.


7 Kormos: I move that clause (b) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be amended by adding, at the end, “except a Staffordshire bull terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club.”


8 Kormos: I move that clause (c) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be amended by adding, at the end, “except an American Staffordshire terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club.”


9 Kormos: I move that clause (d) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be amended by adding, at the end, “except an American pit bull terrier that is registered with the United Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association.”


10 Kormos: I move that clauses (b), (c) and (d) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

(b) a Staffordshire bull terrier, except a Staffordshire bull terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club;
(c) an American Staffordshire terrier, except an American Staffordshire terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club;
(d) an American pit bull terrier, except an American pit bull terrier that is registered with the United Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association.


11 Kormos: I move that clauses (b) and (c) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

(b) a Staffordshire bull terrier, except a Staffordshire bull terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club,
(c) an American Staffordshire terrier, except an American Staffordshire terrier that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club.


12 Zimmer: I move that clause (e) of the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

(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); (`pit bull’).


12A Miller: I move that the definition of “pit bull,” as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be amended by adding the following closing flush after clause (e):

but, despite clauses (a) to (e), does not include any dog that is registered as a purebred dog by the Canadian Kennel Club.


13 Zimmer: I move that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:

(2.1) Section 1 of the act is amended by adding the following subsection:


(2) In determining whether a dog is a pit bull within the meaning of this act, a court may have regard to the breed standards established for Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers or American pit bull terriers by the Canadian Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association.


13A Kormos: I move that government amendment number 13, amending subsection 1(2.1), be amended by deleting the word “may” and replacing it with the word “shall.”


14 Zimmer: I move that the heading immediately before section 4 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(4) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted: “Proceedings — Part IX of the Provincial Offences Act”.


15 Miller: I move that clause 4(1)(b) of the act, as set out in the bill, be struck out. Clause 4(1)(b) is “the dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.”


16 Miller: I’d like to move that subclause 4(1)(c)(ii) of the act, as set out in the bill, be struck out; and that is, “behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.”


17 Zimmer: I move that section 4 of the act, as amended by subsection 1(5) of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:

Standard of proof

(1.3) Findings of fact in a proceeding under this section shall be made on the balance of probabilities.


18 Tascona: I move that subsection 1(7) of the bill be struck out. That deals with dog behaviour posing a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.


19 Tascona: I move that subsection 1(11) of the bill be struck out. It deals with pit bulls and the breed ban, and we don’t support that.


20 Tascona: I move that subsections 4(8) and (9) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(12) of the bill, be struck out. My comments are the same that we used with respect to the previous amendment, because we’re dealing with mandatory orders with respect to pit bull destruction.


21 Zimmer: I move that section 4 of the act, as amended by subsection 1(12) of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:

Onus of proof, pit bulls

(10) If it is alleged in any proceeding under this section that a dog is a pit bull, the onus of proving that the dog is not a pit bull lies on the owner of the dog.


22 Tascona: I move that clause 1(13)(b) of the bill be struck out. Once again, it’s dealing with dog behaviour posing a menace to the safety of persons.


24 Zimmer: I move that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:

(13.1) The act is amended by adding the following section:

Precautions by dog owners

Owner to prevent dog from attacking

5.1 The owner of a dog shall exercise reasonable precautions to prevent it from, (a) biting or attacking a person or domestic animal; or (b) behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.


25 Kormos: I move that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:

(13.1) The act is amended by adding the following sections:

Duty of dog owner

Spaying, neutering

5.2 (1) The owner of a dog shall ensure that the dog is spayed or neutered.


(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of a dog licensed or registered as a show dog or as a breed dog.


26 Tascona: Tascona: I move that sections 6 to 11 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. Each one of those provisions specifically deals with the pit bull ban.


27 Tascona: I move that clause 13(3)(b) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. This deals with the warrant provisions, specifically dealing with a dog that’s behaved in a manner on more than one occasion that is menacing conduct.


28 Tascona: I move that subclause 13(3)(c)(ii) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. It’s dealing with the warrant provisions again and the dog behaving in a manner that is posing a menace.


29 Tascona: I move that clauses 13(3)(d) and (e) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. That’s dealing with the warrant provisions again, and specifically dealing with the pit bull breed ban.


30 Tascona: I move that clause 15(1)(b) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. This deals with the seizure of a dog in a public place and deals specifically with the dog’s behaviour posing a menace to a person or a domestic animal.


31 Tascona: I move that subclause 15(1)(c)(ii) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. This deals with seizure in a public place and the conduct of a dog behaving in a manner that poses a menace.


32 Tascona: I move that clauses 15(1)(d) and (e) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. It deals with seizure in a public place, dealing specifically with the pit bull breed ban.


33 Kormos: I move that subsection 18(3) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

Offence of absolute liability

(3) An individual owner of a dog that bites or attacks a person or domestic animal is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or both.


(4) A corporation that owns a dog that bites or attacks a person or domestic animal is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $60,000.

Order for compensation or restitution

(5) If a person is convicted of an offence under this act, the court making the conviction may, in addition to any other penalty, order the person convicted to make compensation or restitution in relation to the offence.


34 Zimmer: I move that the heading preceding section 19 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

Identification of pit bull

19(1) A document purporting to be signed by a member of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario stating that a dog is a pit bull within the meaning of this act is receivable in evidence in a prosecution for an offence under this act as proof, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the dog is a pit bull for the purposes of this act, without proof of the signature and without proof that the signatory is a member of the college.


(2) No action or other proceeding may be instituted against a member of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario for providing, in good faith, a document described in subsection (1).

Onus of proof

(3) For greater certainty, this section does not remove the onus on the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.


35 Tascona: We move that section 19 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out. This is dealing with the reverse-onus provision.


36 Tascona: I move that section 20 of the act, as set out in subsection 1(14) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:


20(1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make such regulations as the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable for the purpose of effectively carrying out the intent and purposes of this act.


(2) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,

(a) ensuring that municipalities have the resources they require to enable them to provide effective municipal dog control in the interests of public safety;
(b) providing for the development and implementation of a comprehensive program, including education, training and other measures, to encourage responsible dog ownership;
(c) providing for the development and implementation of a comprehensive dog bite prevention strategy to encourage dog owners to take all reasonable steps to prevent their dogs from biting persons or domestic animals;
(d) providing for the establishment and operation of a province-wide dog bite registry.”





37 Tascona: I move that subsections 2(2) to (5) of the bill be struck out. This is dealing with the Animals for Research Act in specific reference to the pit bull breed extinction.











FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Our minds are made up – don’t confuse us with the facts

Phantom "pit bulls" in Sudbury

Here we go again with another article from the Sudbury Star. What is it with this newspaper? Have they forgotten that they’re supposed to be reporting the news, not making it up as they go along just to fill in space?

This is the second dog attack incident in two weeks that the Sudbury Star has rushed to report as a “pit bull”, only to discover that the dog was NO SUCH THING! You can read my comments about the first incident here and here.

Ignoring, for the purposes of this discussion, that no breed of dog can be identified as a “pit bull”, we can certainly assume from this story that the reporter intends to insinuate that the dog is one of the breeds targeted by the Ontario government.

Where on earth did she get that idea? Who identified this dog’s breed?

This is another example of a reporter who, in a frenzy to report a “pit bull” attack, madly repeats the first words that come out of people’s mouths, without any attempt whatsoever to verify their reliability.

A ten-year-old girl, for Pete’s sake, described the dog as “looking like Don Cherry’s dog”. Any self-respecting dog owner who’s seen Don Cherry with his dog on TV would recognize it as a Bull Terrier, a unique purebred dog that was specifically excluded by Attorney General Michael Bryant from his definition of “pit bull”.

In fact, in his press conference filled with falsehoods, discrepancies, and fantasy, the Attorney General of the largest province in the country made it clear that he was keeping the Bull Terrier off the list in order not to enrage Don Cherry himself. Little did he know that Don Cherry would still be enraged and would be fully supportive of the constitutional challenge to Bryant’s legislation.

How, in God’s name, is it possible that a ten-year-old, in the middle of the insanity of one dog attacking another, can accurately identify the breed of the attacking dog and an adult reporter, with every investigative and journalistic tool available to her, cannot?

The phrase “pit bull” blinds many people, especially journalists. It drives them to “get the story”, no matter what. It goads them into asking leading questions, making assumptions, and misinterpreting responses that, in any other circumstance, in any other story, would not only be unacceptable journalism, but would be called tabloidism or even fiction.

Look at this story.

The dog is initially described, ONCE, as “an apparent pit bull”. This is the only phrase you need in order to know that the reporter does not actually have a clue what the dog is. The purpose of including the word “apparent” is purely to PROTECT HER ASS, while allowing her to delve into utter speculation for the rest of the story.

Throughout the rest of the article, the reporter (her name is Laura Stradiotto, by the way) doesn’t even pretend to be tentative about the breed. The dog is now a “pit bull” and she has no qualms about calling it that for the entire story.

The headline screams “Pit bull”. Six times, the phrase is used in the story.

Guess what, Ms. Stradiotto? Guess what, Sudbury Star?


Turns out the dog WAS a Bull Terrier and the ten-year-old was right!

Now what?

When is the Sudbury Star going to apologize, in writing as big as the originals, for two articles with significantly incorrect and misleading information in them?

What will the editors, and the reporter, say to all the responsible “pit bull” owners who now have to endure even more verbal abuse for walking their dogs on Sudbury’s streets because readers believe that story?

You want to be a REAL journalist? Here are some tips:

1. Get the FACTS.
2. Report EVERYTHING you know to be true.
3. Report ONLY what you know to be true.

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

Help needed in Ontario NOW!


The link is http://chicobandido.blogspot.com/2006/09/help-needed-in-ontario-now.html


Twice the size of Texas.

Three times the size of Germany.

Five times the size of the United Kingdom.

Home to a breed-specific legislative ban covering the largest geo-political area in the world.

A ban that discriminates not by action or deed, but by physical appearance.

A ban that targets not only “pitbulls”, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers”, but haunts *ANY* pure-or-crossbred canine bearing a substantial physical resemblance to one of the aforementioned. The 2004 brainchild of the province’s Attorney General, Michael Bryant, the now-infamous Bill 132 was conceived as a vote-grabbing safety measure; a poorly designed and ill-appointed law geared to target the public’s visceral fear of dog attacks. Implemented in August of 2005, retribution against innocent canines and their owners was swift.

Walking your pet without a muzzle now means risking seizure without warrant. Visitors and residents alike travelling without certified documentation face the spectre of breed (mis)-identification looming around every corner.

Pets showing natural protective tendencies within the boundaries of their home turf may now be turned in on the suspicion of being ‘menacing’. This last is particularly frightening; simple barking at passers-by can be interpreted as ‘threatening behaviour’ by control officers with no training in either animal behaviour or breed identification. Failure to pass muster on any of the above can and will result in a one-way trip to the official’s choice of humane society, pound or research facility. There are few second chances.

This ban has raised both the conscience and ire of dog lovers from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island . It’s not just a ‘pit-bull’ issue. It’s a Rottweiler issue, a Doberman issue. It’s about Boxers and Bullmastiffs, Bull Terriers, Neapolitan Mastiffs and Boston Terriers, Great Danes and Vizslas… are you surprised? These are but a handful of breeds that have come under scrutiny and endured public censure following the implementation and subsequent over-broad interpretation of A.G. Bryant’s Bill.

From the beginning, concerned groups and individuals questioned the feasibility of a legal challenge – a challenge directed at the violation of constitutional rights, yet still allowing for the punishment of those who willfully put animals and people in harm’s way. Prominent trial and constitutional lawyer Clayton Ruby was immediately retained.

With the help of the American Staffordshire Terrier Club of Canada, the Golden Horseshoe American Pit Bull Terrier Club, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Canada and Advocates for the Underdog, a coalition was formed including the Dog Legislation Council of Canada and aptly named “Banned-Aid”. This group was to play a prominent role in the ensuing months, bringing the plight of Ontario’s dogs to those who otherwise might never have considered the gravity of the situation. Their determination paid off; the spring of 2006 saw a trial date set, and on May 15th, 16th and 18th, Justice T. Herman heard final arguments from both sides in Ontario’s Superior Court.

The battle, however, is not quite over. Government-initiated delays have resulted in the near-doubling of our legal fees, which have long passed initial “guesstimates” and are closing in on the 1/2 million mark. In this we are running out of time. Generous time allowances by Clayton Ruby’s offices have merely slowed the inevitable, that being we *MUST* come up with $ 100,000 in two weeks’ time for this case to continue.

The importance of being present to rebut this new motion cannot be overestimated. Lacking an opposing legal presence gives government lawyers carte blanche while countering from our side greatly increases the chances of any further introductions being struck down as frivolous. Ruby strongly believes this attempt to be a last-gasp ‘smoke screen’ effort by our opposition, carefully orchestrated to bring us to our financial knees. We cannot let this happen. If we have come this far, it is in large part due to the faith of our members, friends and allies – individuals who possess the same gritty determination hallmarking the breeds this Bill seeks to eliminate forever.

We are so very, very close. For the latest updates and news briefs, we urge you to visit the Dog Legislation Council of Canada website at:


If you believe – as we do – that victory is a mere leash-length away, then please help by donating to the Ontario Legal Challenge of Bill 132 through the following agents:

Banned Aid Coalition – www.bannedaid.com

Send a cheque or money order payable to Banned Aid to:

Cathy Prothro
National Secretary/Treasurer – Banned Aid Coalition
351 Pleasant Street
Dartmouth NS B2Y 3S4

Mark a cheque “Banned Aid – In Trust’ on the memo line; make payable to “Ruby and Edwardh” and send to:

Ruby and Edwardh
11 Prince Arthur Avenue
Toronto, ON M5R 1B2

No donation is too small, no suggestion unimportant. Each and every contribution is humbly appreciated – indeed, more than can be possibly expressed. We know the dogs this saves would thank you if they could.


Banned Aid Coalition
351 Pleasant Street
Dartmouth NS B2S 3Y4

Worthington: Objective reporting is not possible!

Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun has finally stunned me more than I thought possible.

After reading and responding to his columns in May and July, articles that I truly believe incited hatred and vigilantism towards responsible dog owners, my opinion of him as a balanced and fair journalist pretty well went out the window.

In his latest rant against the CBC, however, Worthington makes one of the most outrageous statements I have ever read. If ever there were even a glimmer of hope that he had not completely descended into tabloid fantasy, it died with this column.

“Objectivity is impossible in journalism.”
— Peter Worthington – Toronto Sun – September 14, 2006

Yes, Peter Worthington believes that a journalist or reporter cannot report on the news without injecting their own personal biases.

My first thought, first question, one that Worthington does not address in any meaningful way, is “Why not?”

Why is it impossible for a journalist to report objectively, without bias? Cambridge’s Dictionary of American English defines the adjective “objective” as “not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings; fair or real”. The antonym is “subjective”. Worthington even admits as much in the ending sentence to that same paragraph: “The reporter, subjectively, chooses what is newsworthy”. He also states, “But while objectivity is impossible, fairness is attainable by all.”

The definition of “objective” above includes the word “fair”. They are one and the same. An objective reporter is, by definition, fair.

Judges act objectively and fairly every day. So do accountants, lawyers, tax auditors, systems analysts, business leaders, police detectives, and others. People whose occupations require them to receive, analyze, and act on facts and evidence, must, by the very nature of their jobs, be objective and fair.

I do not deny any of these people their own personal beliefs, opinions, and biases. They would not be human without them. But that is no excuse for lack of objectivity within the framework of their jobs.

What makes journalists so special? Why is Worthington so willing to allow them their subjectivity when, by all accounts, the purpose of journalism is to INFORM, not to persuade?

The Society of Professional Journalists, North America’s most broad-based journalism organization with over 10,000 members, has a Code of Ethics. I quote parts of it here.

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.

Journalists should:
– Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
– Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

Clearly, the Society believes that not only are journalists capable of objectivity, but that it should be a standard towards which they should always strive.

Even though I agree with Worthington in his criticism of the CBC and in his support of Christine St-Pierre, I cannot and will not use her situation as an excuse for fatalism and lack of responsibility.

Just like everyone else in this crazy, mixed up world, journalists with character, integrity, and honesty must be objective. They are not perfect nor should we expect them to be. But they have a goal, a set of ethics, by which they try to judge every word that they write or speak.

Perhaps Worthington’s attempts to justify bias and subjectivity reflect an underlying laziness, a “shrug of the shoulders”, a lack of fortitude to put the time and effort into sifting through the chaffe. Perhaps this is why his earlier articles irked me. In those, it seemed to me like he just didn’t care enough to even try to dig for the truth. Maybe now we know why.

It’s not my fault!

I have no intention of starting a debate as to the merits or dangers of wolf-hybrids.

That just happens to be the type of animal that bit two children in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, on Thursday. It could just as easily have been any other dog.

The word “mauled”, as used in the article, might be a bit much since the young girl received three stitches and the word “gash”, although undefined and unquantifiable, seems to have come into vogue as the new description of someone’s injuries.

Caveat has done a good job of showing the owner’s stupidity and blindness. I won’t repeat that effort here.

I’d just like to point out some quotes from a second article about the same incident and let you draw your own conclusions.

The owner of what’s been called a husky-wolf-cross says it’s not her family’s fault.

“We’re not to blame. We didn’t ask for this to happen,” said Jeanette McIvor.

The last time her son saw the dog it was chained up in the backyard.

Mystique’s owners believe she may have been protecting her offspring. She gave birth to a litter of seven puppies a few weeks ago, and two were with her when the attack happened last Thursday.

The McIvors are fighting to make sure their pet isn’t put to sleep. “I really don’t want that to happen. It goes against our religion,” McIvor said.

Tim Dack, chief operating officer for Winnipeg’s animal control agency, said the city doesn’t have a wolf-hybrid ban, either. Regardless, Dack advised people not to make pets of the animals. “Evidence and studies have shown that these types of hybrid dogs can be quite difficult to handle and quite dangerous,” said Dack. “When they get nasty, they get nasty.”

I’ll make one comment about this owner. As far as I’m concerned, when you leave a dog unsupervised where someone else, particularly a child, can get to it, you ARE at fault. Expecting other people’s children to stay away from your dogs is not realistic. At least one third of all children killed by dogs in this country wandered unsupervised into chained dogs’ territory or were inside that territory unsupervised. In at least another quarter to one third, dogs had broken loose from their chains or yards.

I wouldn’t put a whole lot of faith in Tim Dack’s description of any breed’s temperament. He was one of the architect’s of Winnipeg’s “pit bull” ban and testified at Ontario’s hearings in favour of that province’s ban. The man admits that the “pit bull” has been replaced in Winnipeg by other breeds (not wolf-hybrids, by the way), even though the “pit bull” type dog was not the number one biter when that city’s ban was implemented. He now seems to be an expert on wolf-hybrids.

Considering how rare a true wolf-hybrid is, I’m not sure how Mr. Dack is able to make such a blanket statement. Seems to me like he took the same words he used for “pit bulls” and just changed the breed name.

Therapy dogs? No thanks. Not here.

This Hamilton Spectator article demonstrates the absurdity of Ontario’s “pit bull” ban.

A friend of mine has a 10-year-old “pit bull” type dog who is easily one of the best dogs I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

  • He has almost no teeth left from chewing on rocks and diving for them in Lake Ontario.
  • He is people-friendly and dog-friendly. He was a leash-free park dog for his whole life.
  • He has been assaulted numerous times by human “pit bull” haters without any aggressive response from him.
  • He watched his owner be severely assaulted and did nothing (some say this is bad, but that is his temperament).
  • He has been attacked by other dogs, including having his side ripped open by a German Shepherd, without responding.
  • He is not a wimp or fearful. In fact, he’s the opposite. Very proud and regal, very much in control of himself and aware of who and what he is.
  • He was a therapy dog at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and at another children’s hospice. He would thread his way through IV tubes to climb up on the bed and lie down with the kids.

He can’t do therapy work any more because the new legislation has created fear as well as legal and liability issues. The kids cried when he had to leave. Now, after ten years of service to his owner and his community, he has to wear a muzzle in public.

Another friend of mine has a dog that helps with developmentally handicapped children. She works for a government organization and looks after these kids in her home. She was told to get rid of her dog or lose her job. Every parent of every child wrote letters of support saying that they wanted the dog to be with their children. The organization eventually backed off, but the dog still has to be muzzled inside her house when the children are there.

A number of therapy dogs have been “ejected” from the St. John’s and Therapeutic Paws programs, not because those organizations feel there’s anything wrong, but because of public fear and because of an inability to get insurance companies to provide liability insurance. Somehow these dogs, that have been working so diligently and reliably with children or in retirement homes, will suddenly turn into raging monsters just because Dalton McGuinty, Michael Bryant, and their hacks say so.

Tribute to Search and Rescue dogs

As I take a moment to reflect on the events five years ago and what’s happened to our world since that moment, I’d like to pay tribute to the four-legged rescuers who save lives and give families closure, not just at that one tragedy, but on a daily basis throughout the world.

World Trade Center Dogs:

Dogs in the News

DogSpeak Public Relations

Connecticut Legal Guide’s Canine SAR Tribute

Cheyenne and Dakota (Columbia Space Shuttle):

For Pits’ Sake – see Kris’ tribute to the SAR dogs of 9/11

Missouri Pit Bull Rescue

What Michael really believes

Browsing back through some of the Hansard documents from the time when the Ontario Liberal government was introducing Bill 132 to the legislature, I came across a quote from Michael Bryant during the November 4, 2004 debate of Bill 132.

I grew up with big dogs — German shepherds. We had three in our house at one time. They scared some people, there’s no doubt, when they barked and someone showed up at the door. They were trained. They never attacked. They never hurt anyone.

Really, Michael, there are some days when you should have just kept your mouth shut, like the time when you thought you could “pick the pit bull” in five seconds when seasoned American Pit Bull Terrier breeders had to think carefully when viewing the same pictures!

There is a phrase in mathematics: “If A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C”. You can take that one step further by saying, “If A equals B and B does not equal C, then A does not equal C”.

Same goes here. The logical conclusion from Mr. Bryant’s statement is that his German Shepherds (assuming that they were purebred GSD’s, of course) did not attack anyone and did not hurt anyone BECAUSE THEY WERE TRAINED.

Conversely, from his own statement, we can assume that, if they had NOT been trained, it is possible that they could have attacked someone and perhaps hurt them.

Therefore, despite the fact that, on camera, Mr. Bryant has stated that German Shepherds are not dangerous dogs, his own argument leads us to conclude that those dogs were inherently dangerous and had to be trained in order to not attack or injure someone.

Now, this is not my own personal point of view about his family’s dogs. They were probably really nice dogs. This is what I say we could conclude from Michael Bryant’s own statement in the legislature.

Even as a dog trainer, I believe that most dogs settle into their families just fine. They may have been formally trained using traditional correction methods, they may have been formally trained using positive motivational methods such as clicker-training, or they may have been informally trained by the owner, who might have owned dogs before or who might have followed a neighbour’s advice or who applied the same rules to the dog as they did to their kids.

My belief is that most dogs don’t threaten or bite, very few are really dangerous, and even less bite seriously.

But, it appears that Mr. Bryant’s belief is that his own family’s German Shepherds would have been dangerous had they not been trained.

So, Michael, is it really the breed or is it the owner, the environment, and the training? Sounds to me like your true beliefs slipped out of hiding for a second.

Is this lady being quoted correctly?

Further to the story of the five-year-old boy bitten on the lip by a nine-month-old “pit bull / husky cross” (whatever that is).

In my earlier article, I failed to mention an important point. I had included it in a letter to the editor of the Sudbury Star, but forgot about it when writing the more detailed analysis of the news report.

Ms. McIntyre, the mother of the boy who was bitten, had been severely injured herself when she was eleven years old. Not by a “pit bull” nor by a “pit bull / husky” cross, but, according to her own testimony, by a German Shepherd. This incident resulted in FIFTY-FOUR stitches compared to the SEVEN received by her son.

Now, keep in mind that I am always suspicious of breed identification. Any dog that is brown and black with hair longer than a Rottweiler and with remotely pointy ears is called a German Shepherd, any dog with shorter hair and bigger muscles, but still brown and black, is called a Rottweiler, and anything with a big head, very short hair, and a muscular body that’s any colour other than brown and black is called a “pit bull”.

How they determined “pit bull / husky cross” with any degree of reliability is anybody’s guess.

So, since nobody seems to be satisified with simply calling a mutt by its real name (MUTT), we should at least call that dog a German Shepherd TYPE of dog, until such time as someone, somewhere, can prove what it was.

Ms. McIntyre is quoted as follows:

  • She is in favour of the current “pit bull” legislation;
  • She is concerned about “pit bull” owners failing to muzzle their dogs in public (even though the incident to her son happened on private property);
  • She thinks that “pit bulls” should not be around kids;
  • She questions whether or not people should own “pit bulls” at all.

Yet she was badly hurt as a child by a dog that looked like a German Shepherd, one that would not have been targeted by the current legislation.

So the questions have to be asked:

  1. Is Ms. McIntyre being quoted correctly, especially when it appears that her quoted attitude is not logical considering her own experience?
  2. Is she being quoted fully? Does she perhaps want ALL large dogs specially legislated? Did the reporter, Jordan Ercit, ever ask her how she feels about dogs that look like German Shepherds?
  3. Is the reporter choosing, perhaps from many sentences, only the phrases about “pit bulls”?
  4. Despite the FIFTY-FOUR stitches Ms. McIntyre received as a child to repair the damage caused by the dog that looked like a German Shepherd, she appears to have gone out of her way in this interview to say that she still did not hate dogs. Is it logical to believe that she fails to hold a similar view regarding the nine-month-old puppy that gave her son only SEVEN stitches? Is it possible that the reporter asked leading questions, expertly guiding a traumatized and nervous interviewee, one who is unfamiliar with interviewing tricks and traps, down a garden path that ends in the phrase “I think pit bulls are dangerous and should be banned”?

As an example of a similar approach, I go back to the presentations to the committee hearings on the current Ontario legislation. David Zimmer was a member of that committee and is a Michael Bryant henchman that, in my opinion, is the type of person that gives lawyers their bad reputation. It was clear that, despite the Utopian ideal that a group of committee members could be brought together to hear expert witnesses and make informed decisions based on that testimony, David Zimmer’s only objective was to trap people into saying things they didn’t mean and to make them look stupid.

Mr. Zimmer managed to do this to two very well respected and educated individuals who have more knowledge about dogs and dog behaviour in their little fingers than he could hope to obtain in his entire lifetime. Instead of hearing their expertise, their experience, and their suggestions, all he wanted to do was embarrass them. To those of us watching who knew anything about dogs (or about politics, for that matter) and certainly for those of us who believe in honesty, integrity, and fairness, Mr. Zimmer was the embarrassment.

The point of that digression was that even very smart, educated, and experienced people who have been in the public eye many times, on television, on radio, in newspapers, and as witnesses in court cases, can be trapped into saying something they didn’t intend if expertly led down that path by an unscrupulous guide.

I would like to delve deeper into this story because it is entirely possible that we’re only getting a fraction of the truth through this reporter and even that fraction may have been distorted.

FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Phantom “pit bulls” in Sudbury

Boy survives pit bull attack – back on bike eight hours later

The headline of a recent Sudbury Star news report screams “Boy survives pit bull attack”. Here are the facts that are available from the news report which, of course, doesn’t mean that they’re the only facts.

  • Dog is nine months old.
  • Boy is five years old.
  • Dog is owned by boy’s neighbour.
  • Boy enters front door of house (after being told to do so by the CHILDREN in the house).
  • Dog jumps up and bites boy on face.
  • CHILDREN in the house get a cloth and ice for the wound.
  • Boy gets seven stitches to lip.
  • Dog is going to be killed.

Take away the inflammatory and incorrect use of the word “pit bull” in the headline and what we have left is an all-too-familiar refrain: “unsupervised young male child bitten by neighbour’s unsupervised young (possibly male) dog”. According to multiple research papers by professional organizations over a number of years, this is probably the most common situation in which a dog bite occurs. It doesn’t have anything to do with the dog’s breed, at all!

So, at the risk of repeating myself from comments about previous newspaper articles, here is my in-depth analysis of this poorly researched and sensational bit of fluff written by Jordan Ercit of the Sudbury Star.

  1. A “centimetre-long gash” (also described as “tore his lip a quarter of an inch open”). Please grab a ruler and see how long a centimetre is. While you’re at it, flip the ruler around and see how long a quarter of an inch is. They’re not the same, are they? On my hand, a quarter of an inch is less than the length of the fingernail on my little finger. Under what possible circumstance does this get called a “gash”? When a dog did it?
  2. “Boy survives pit bull attack”, “gash”, “mauled”, “eight hours in the ER”, “lunged”, “tore”, “ripped”. My God, this sounds like the child almost died! Do me a favour, reporter, and go back and see how long the “gash” was. A centimetre, you said in one spot. A quarter of inch, you said in another sentence.
  3. Nine month old dog. Five year old boy. Do you think maybe this wasn’t even an “attack”? Is it possible the dog just jumped up and decided to play tug-of-war with the kid’s face? As horrifying and traumatizing as that experience might be, that’s what happens with kids and dogs, particularly when they are BOTH unsupervised! How do I know they were unsupervised? Read the next point.
  4. Kyle went to his neighbour’s home, knocked on the door, and was told to enter. Notice the article doesn’t say who told him to enter. After the bite (and I quote), “the kids at the house were quick to react, grabbing a cloth and ice, and then rushed him to his mom”. Where were the owners of the dog? Why did the kids have to get the cloth and ice and take Kyle back to his mom? BECAUSE THE OWNERS WEREN’T WITH THE DOG AND THE KIDS!
  5. Eight hours in the ER. Again, this sounds horrible, traumatic, scary. Wait a second. Eight hours for seven stitches? That’s less than one stitch per hour. So we can pretty well assume that seven and a half of those eight hours were spent waiting, registering, explaining, reporting to police and animal control, etc, etc, etc. From my experience with Toronto hospitals, that’s a little long to wait, but then it was a DOG BITE, so they probably paid a little more attention to Kyle than to the child next to him with the concussion and broken leg from skateboarding.
  6. The dog had never been aggressive before. Define “aggressive”. Was this even aggression? Had the dog jumped on people before? On kids? Every puppy I know does that (or did until it was trained not to or grew out of it)? Did the dog chase kids and nip and even bite, all in play, fun and games? Many puppies I know do that. Did the owners discourage it? Did they talk to a professional, perhaps take the dog for training? At nine months old, if trained, he should no longer be jumping and nipping and biting.
  7. The dog will be put down. Make no mistake about it – this dog is being put down because of its breed. I place FULL responsibility for the death of that dog and the injuries to the child on the shoulders of the owners. This dog should not have had to die and that boy should not have had to get stitches to his face. It was unnecessary, it was foreseeable, and it was preventable. The dog and multiple children were unsupervised together.
  8. I’m also not too thrilled with the mother for letting her five year old go anywhere unsupervised. Too many children get hurt and killed in this country, in many circumstances other than dog bites, simply because they’re not being watched.
  9. The dog came from a questionable environment. What does this mean? Shouldn’t the reporter investigate that a little further instead of just throwing it out there? I have no idea why that’s even in the article, but it certainly raises further questions about how responsible these owners really were.
  10. Last, but not least, the “pit bull” issue. Let’s start with the descriptions and phrases used by the reporter (and perhaps by the mother, although I’m not certain that she used these exact phrases). Pit bull mix (once), pit bull-husky cross (once), pit bull (seven times). Do you think maybe this reporter has an agenda? Why the focus on “pit bulls” when one half of the dog was supposedly husky? If the reporter didn’t have such tunnel vision about “pit bulls”, whatever they are, a little research on dog bite related fatalities and injuries in Canada could have given this story a whole different slant. It could have been about huskies or husky crosses or sled dogs or northern dogs or farm dogs. Or it may have ended up simply being about dogs, kids, and what happens when they get together without an adult.

The reporter’s final comment is a quote from the mother complaining that the pit bull legislation in Ontario is not being enforced.

“There are two pit bulls in this area that are constantly outside without muzzles. I think it is a good idea, but I don’t think it is enforced.”

Guess what, Ms. McIntyre? That wouldn’t have helped your kid. Not one bit. The dog that bit your child was inside its own house. No muzzle required. I’m really sorry, but that legislation wouldn’t have protected your child.

Point the finger upwards until you get to the human end of the leash. Oh, and look in the mirror as well. Those are the only two people who could have prevented this.

FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Is this lady being quoted correctly?

FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Phantom “pit bulls” in Sudbury

Canadian Breeds and Restrictions

A recent article on Dog Politics discussed a proposal in New Jersey to require all “pit bull” owners to be photographed, pay an extra registration fee, and have signficant personal information recorded in a central database.

I have been going through all the bylaws and ordinances for many cities and towns throughout Canada, including a number that restrict or prohibit certain breeds. Below is a summary of the various types of restrictions or prohibitions I have found.

Keep in mind two things:

1. These are ONLY in Canada.
2. Every one of these restrictions or prohibitions is BY BREED.

Mobility Restrictions

  • 3 ft leash
  • muzzle
  • muzzle/leash in vehicle
  • minimum age of person walking the dog
  • enclosed pen (with top and sides and lock) or tethered with a chain
  • crate or pen the dog if children under 14 are in the house
  • not allowed in off-leash dog parks
  • automatically declared dangerous or vicious

Ownership Restrictions

  • limit on number of dogs
  • dogs from out-of-town not allowed in town
  • in some towns, no grandfather clause – all existing dogs must leave immediately
  • non-transferable licence (no transfer of ownership allowed)

Owner Tracking and Registration

  • mandatory microchip
  • mandatory spay/neuter
  • mandatory immunization for rabies (specifically listed for restricted breeds)
  • special “restricted or dangerous dog” licence (with a higher annual fee)
  • special application fee
  • must apply in person with dog
  • signed and sworn statement that dog is legal and that the dog you are applying for is the dog you are with
  • photograph taken by Animal Control Officer
  • notification of change of address, change of ownership, death of dog
  • special dog tag
  • no replacement for special dog tag (unlike regular dog tags) – must apply for new licence
  • warning sign on premises
  • one million dollars liability insurance
  • visiting dogs required to register with city and pay a registration fee


  • higher penalties for noncompliance
  • entry/seizure without warrant specifically allowed for certain breeds
  • law can be enforced by ANY town employee, not just law enforcement or animal control
  • owner is responsible for all kenneling costs after impounding

Destruction of Dogs

  • town will not return impounded dog (regardless of reason for impounding)
  • destroy prohibited breeds on sight with no notification to owner
  • mandatory death of dog if owner fails to comply
  • mandatory death of puppies if discovered
  • owner is responsible for cost of destroying the dog

Pit bull or not?

I’ve recently run into a couple of situations that highlight an important issue from the Ontario court case.

First, I recognize that there are important considerations in this case other than the ability to visually identify a dog breed. Things such as:

  • Unreasonable (and sometimes warrantless) search and seizure
  • Reverse onus
  • Presumption of guilt
  • Lack of equality and equal protection under the law
  • Lack of reasonable limits and demonstrable justification for such extreme measures

The issue of accurate and reliable identification of the supposed “problem breeds”, however, was a significant factor in the constitutional challenge. The inability for average dog owners, for enforcement officers, and for courts to consistently and fairly identify a dog’s heritage, even more so in the case of mixed breeds, is the reason why this law can partially be challenged on the argument of vagueness.

During the court case, both sides, as well as the judge, had much discussion about CORE vs. PERIPHERY.

CORE is defined as the specific purebred breeds named in the bill, clauses (b) through (d). In the case of Bill 132, these are: (b) Staffordshire Bull Terrier, (c) American Staffordshire Terrier, and (d) American Pit Bull Terrier. If a person owns a purebred dog of one of these breeds, identifiable through a pedigree with the American Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, or the American Dog Breeders Association, then that person’s dog is part of the CORE. These are also the dogs that, in the case of Bill 132, might be exempted from sterilization and, in certain situations, from the muzzle/leash requirements.

The CORE consists entirely of dogs that the prosecution can legally prove fall into the category of “restricted” or “prohibited” dogs. Our argument was that the core is SO small (incredibly small compared to the number of dogs in Ontario) that the only purpose of including the core was to give a base definition from which authorities can reach out and grab all the other dogs. There is also no proof, whatsoever, that the core is responsible for even a proportionate number of bite incidents compared to their population.

PERIPHERY, on the other hand, is covered by the other two “breed” definitions in Bill 132. Definition (a) is “pit bull terrier” and definition (e) is “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)”.

Much of the argument was related to the size of the CORE in relation to the size of the PERIPHERY. How many dogs can definitely be identified as “restricted” or “prohibited” (core)? How many dogs are sitting on the edge (periphery) and might or might not be identified, depending on the arbitrary and subjective opinion of the officer or the court? The government lawyers spent a lot of time trying to prove that “pit bull terrier” is such an accepted word, a norm if you will, that everyone knows what it is and what it looks like. If they were successful in this argument, then they could actually throw out clause (e) since clause (a) would cover anything they wanted it to.

OK, enough of the legalese. Back to my stories.

1. The Border Collie

A friend owns a dog that we think is a mixture of Border Collie and something – we don’t know what. My guess, off the top of my head, would be Lab or something close. The problem is, when this dog smiles and you happen to be looking at the dog head on, it is easy to imagine that you see a “pit bull” grin. Never mind the fact that, when a Lab smiles, you get the same look.

So, she has been told by a few people, here and there, that her dog might have “pit bull” in it. Petrified, of course, and loving her dog more than life itself, she went out and got a muzzle. Now her dog is always muzzled in public. I had an Animal Services officer friend of mine look at the dog and tell her, point-blank, there is no way her dog would get identified as a “pit bull”. But she’s too worried about the one wrong person saying the one wrong thing. So she muzzles her dog. The point is, nobody knows. Not her. Not her friends. Not me. Not the Animal Services officer. Nobody.

2. The Terrier Mutt

Another couple owns a definite terrier mutt. Who knows what the heck is in this dog? Maybe some sort of wire-haired terrier, maybe some sort of hound as well. The dog has webbed feet and a nose that will take her two miles in any direction before she looks up. So maybe there is some hound. When they got the dog from the rescue group, they were told that there might be “pit bull” in her. Their only reason for suggesting that was because the dog is grey brindle (remember BRINDLE = PIT BULL). The dog has wire hair going in every direction except the ground and the hair is much longer than your average American Pit Bull Terrier. She’s about 50 pounds. The owners are convinced the dog has Plott Hound in her, because of the brindle, the type of hair, and the webbed feet. Whatever the dog is, nobody knows for sure nor can they even muster an educated guess.

This dog was being boarded at another friend’s house and I was to pick her up and walk her to the owners’ house, a few blocks away. It just so happened that the day I did that (Saturday) was the Taste of the Danforth in Toronto. The Danforth is a road in Toronto, but it’s also a Greek neighbourhood, with many Greek businesses and restaurants. Taste of the Danforth is a huge annual celebration of Greek culture and cuisine. Hundreds of thousands of people crowd through a closed off Danforth Avenue, sampling the goods and enjoying the music. Of course, there are also a lot of police there for crowd control, just in case.

I had to walk this dog right along the Danforth, through the crowds, to get from one friend’s house to the other. As I was walking, I realized that I was still wearing the “My Ontario Includes Pit Bulls” button because I had been helping at a dog show booth earlier in the day. It suddenly occurred to me that there was no way I could prove the breed of this dog, that my button may attract the attention of a police officer, and that because of the brindle colour of the dog and because of my button, they may assume that she’s a “pit bull”. It would not be an unreasonable assumption, except that the dog doesn’t look anything like any of the purebred dogs mentioned in the law. Not even close. But the colour plus the button could very easily cause someone to assume that the dog is a “pit bull” mix. Of course, she wasn’t muzzled.

So, what did I do? For the sake of my friends, for the sake of the dog, and for my own peace of mind walking along the street, I removed my button.

What you have read here, my friends, is what this law does. It creates fear. It creates fear of dogs in the general public mind and it creates fear of authority within the dog owning population. It makes a simple thing like WALKING YOUR DOG a stressful, scary experience.

Neighbour hates neighbour

To the young dog owner in this Winnipeg Sun story, welcome to the world that Ontarians are living in every day! Owners of ANY breed in Ontario should be afraid of losing their dogs because of vindictive or fearful neighbours.

Interesting statement by the city councillor, Gord Steeves:

The pound requires bite victims to sign sworn statements in case judicial action follows. “If we don’t, anybody could just phone us and say, ‘Joe Blow’s dog down the street bit me,’ because they don’t like Joe Blow. That’s not right,” he said.

I don’t know if that’s the policy of every municipal pound here in Ontario, but I highly doubt it.

In Ontario, your dog doesn’t have to bite to be taken away. If someone complains that your dog “menaced” them, police can come to your house and, in some cases without a warrant, enter your home (whether or not you are there), seize your dog, and you could face up to $10,000 in fines and up to six months in jail. Your dog does not have to be identified as a “pit bull” for this to happen. And trust me, when they have your dog, getting it back is no easy task!

Strange quote from Tim Dack of Winnipeg Animal Services:

Animal services chief operator Tim Dack said the Labrador was seized for a 10-day quarantine — a precautionary measure following any such apparent attack — after his employees found that “a bite has occurred.”

The pound’s action, however, is not an indication that the girl was left with a clear wound. “There doesn’t have to be a mark. There doesn’t have to be a scratch,” Dack explained. “The biting doesn’t have to break the skin or leave a mark. It’s the action of biting.”

So what the heck does it mean, that “a bite has occurred”, if there isn’t a mark and there isn’t a scratch and the skin wasn’t broken? Can you imagine falling off a bike, sustaining no injuries, no skin scrapes, no cuts or bruises, no broken bones, and then suing the bike manufacturer because you fell off?

GIVE ME A BREAK! Everybody needs to relax about dogs. PLEASE.

Although I think it’s absolutely wrong and a perfect case of an innocent person being penalized without having broken the law, Ms. Ogal is lucky she only has to pay $200 in pound fees to get her dog back.

She is more fortunate than she realizes. Labrador retreiver mixes are among the types of dogs most commonly misidentified as “pit bulls”. If, whether in Winnipeg or here in Ontario, God forbid her dog had been identified as a “pit bull”, the only thing she would have received back would have been a box containing her pet’s ashes.

And last, but definitely not least, another quote from Councillor Steeves encapsulates much of what is wrong with the way dog legislation is headed.

They are still dogs, but they are also innocent, I think, until proven guilty.

Even though Mr. Steeves is defending this particular dog, the problem is in the assumption that a DOG can be guilty or innocent, or that there is any such thing as morals or conscience or any such human concept within the dog world. This is not about the dog being innocent or guilty.

It is the dog OWNER who has to pay the $200 fine.
It is the dog OWNER who has to spend 10 days without her dog.
It is the dog OWNER who has to go through the stress of being charged and not knowing whether she’ll get her dog back.
It is the dog OWNER who has to fight for her rights, even though she did nothing wrong.

It is the dog OWNER who, in this case, is presumed guilty until proven innocent.

It is the dog OWNER whose rights are being trampled on, while the alleged victim can scream obscenities, spray paint someone else’s property, make false accusations, and generally make another person’s life hell, with impunity.

I’ve included the entire story below because of the Sun’s money-making insistence on requesting fees for archived articles. I don’t want this story to disappear, like so many others.

The original article is at:

or possibly at:

August 30, 2006

Big bucks to spring puppyOwner says bite call was a spite call

A North End woman is livid after seeing her dog seized and quarantined — saddling her with a nearly $200 pound bill — only because someone cried wolf.

At least that’s what Shannon Ogal insists happened when a teen girl complained to animal services officials last week that she had been bitten by the eight-month-old Labrador-cross on Manitoba Avenue.

Ogal lost her male pup, Ruffus — at least temporarily — last Wednesday when pound employees nabbed it as a result of a confrontation between her and a couple of teens in front of her house the previous evening.

The girls were “drunk or on something,” Ogal said, when one of them taunted the animal.

“The next thing you know she screams, ‘Your dog bit me!’ ” Ogal, a 27-year-old hotel desk clerk, told the Sun.

“She made it up. Then she just said she’s calling the cops. She didn’t show me the bite at all.”

Dogcatchers showed up the next day to apprehend Ruffus, despite the owner’s insistence there was no such attack or visible injury.

“There was nothing at all,” Ogal said. “The worst he would do is maybe lick someone to death.”


Animal services chief operator Tim Dack said the Labrador was seized for a 10-day quarantine — a precautionary measure following any such apparent attack — after his employees found that “a bite has occurred.”

The pound’s action, however, is not an indication that the girl was left with a clear wound.

“There doesn’t have to be a mark. There doesn’t have to be a scratch,” Dack explained.

“The biting doesn’t have to break the skin or leave a mark. It’s the action of biting. People could be just lucky to not get bitten — they could move their arm just in time, or it could just get their coat instead of them.”

The 10-day confiscation, Dack said, protects the public in case the quarantined animal is rabid and costs the pet’s owner $18 per day.

Even if Ogal retrieves Ruffus this weekend as she hopes, it will come with a bill of about $180 plus tax.

She wants the pound and police to listen to her argument that the teen complainant is a troublemaker allegedly responsible for a spray-painted slur, “Dead dog & dead bitch,” scrawled on her rear shed since the incident.

“She’s been harassing me. She drives by, swearing,” said Ogal, who also owns Ruffus’ mother Attila.

“She said, ‘It would be sad if your other dog is taken away, too.'”

Coun. Gord Steeves, head of city hall’s protection committee, said he has confidence in the pound’s ability to do the right thing.

“But hopefully they’ll look at the injury. You don’t want a dog picked up unless the dog has actually bitten someone,” Steeves (St. Vital) said.

“It’s just like a human. They are still dogs, but they are also innocent, I think, until proven guilty.”

The pound requires bite victims to sign sworn statements in case judicial action follows.

“If we don’t, anybody could just phone us and say, ‘Joe Blow’s dog down the street bit me,’ because they don’t like Joe Blow. That’s not right,” he said.

“I’m not saying people don’t lie on statements, but we’ve never, to my knowledge or my memory, had a case when somebody has lied on a statement for a quarantine of an animal.”

Dog Owners’ rights are disappearing in Ontario

Please read the following articles to understand how Ontario’s Bill 132, a piece of legislation that has often been called the “pit bull ban”, has much more to do with all dog owners than most people realize.

Note the underlying theme of increasing restrictions on all dog owners with the ultimate aim of ending pet ownership. Note the various violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in order to accomplish this, violations affecting not only owners of certain types of dogs, but owners of all dogs. Your rights are being taken away as you read this and you aren’t even aware of it.

One Year Anniversary Vigil in Toronto Ontario

Ontario Labrador Retriever Ban: UPDATE

The Dalton and Michael Awards

Dog Owner? Stand up and SAY SOMETHING!


Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare in Ontario

Read Bill 132 in its entirety and then read the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and see how the fomer violates the latter. According to the Charter of Rights, every person in this country and, in particular, every citizen of this country, has the following rights (italics mine):

Section 1: a guarantee to the rights and freedoms set out in the Charter subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society;

Section 6(1): the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada;

Section 6(2): the right to move to and take up residence in any province and the right to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province;

Section 7: the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice;

Section 8: the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure;

Section 9: the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned;

Section 11(d): the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

Section 15: the right to be equal before and under the law and the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.

Remember, this is not about dogs! This is about your rights, my rights, and the rights of every dog owner in the province. It’s about the Liberal government ripping up the Charter of Rights, jumping up and down on it, then throwing it away, and somehow getting the support of a large segment of the population because nobody even recognizes what just happened!

People died and are still dying fighting for our right to be treated fairly and equally. Just because these Charter violations have been nicely packaged into a law about dogs, don’t think for one second that it has anything to do with our four-legged friends. Read the list of violations again. Think of them in terms of people, you and me, not in terms of dogs.

Please help fight this discriminatory law. Here’s how:

  • Donate to Banned Aid to support the constitutional challenge in the Superior Court of Ontario, the first of its kind in Canada;
  • Help the Dog Legislation Council of Canada and others run booths at various events;
  • Contact your MPP and let them know why you won’t be voting Liberal on October 4, 2007. Even if your MPP is not Liberal, contact them anyway;
  • Encourage your friends, family members, coworkers, park members, veterinarians, trainers, and anyone else you meet to get involved, donate, become members of the DLCC or other groups;
  • Write to your local newspaper editor and tell them how you feel about this law and why.

And, most importantly, remember that My Dog Votes

One Year Anniversary Vigil in Toronto Ontario

On Sunday, August 27, there was a one year anniversary vigil at Queen’s Park in Toronto Ontario. For those of you unfamiliar with the city, Queen’s Park is the location of the Provincial Legislature where Bill 132 was hatched and passed.

Here is one attendee’s brief summary of the evening.

Turnout was less than expected. I would attribute that to a number of factors, including summer time, thunderstorms all day (although we were fortunate to not be rained upon during the event), and a general lack of desire to attend with a muzzled dog. There also appears to be an apathy among dog owners regarding this law, almost an acceptance of it.

The crowd that did attend was enthusiastic and supportive. Great people. Great dogs. It was nice to see a number of people attending with non-targeted breeds as well, showing that they really get what this law is about.

Some common themes threaded their way through all the speeches:

  1. This is not about dogs. It’s about the government being allowed to create laws that violate the constitutional rights of a small group of people (owners of dogs with a certain look). In fact, the constitutional rights of all dog owners are capable of being violated and abused by this law.
  2. We are seeing more and more laws targeting and restricting all dog owners and breed-specific legislation is one piece of that. A perfect example is how, amid all the coverage and uproar about the “pit bull” portion of Bill 132, people missed the fact that police may now go into any private residence, regardless of the breed of dog, in some cases without a warrant. They missed the fact that, no matter what breed or mixed breed they own, they may face $10,000 in fines and six months in jail if someone who doesn’t like them or doesn’t like their dog accuses their dog of having threatened a person, another dog, or a cat!
  3. In order to continue this fight, we need people to talk with their friends and get more people to join the organizations that are fighting this. We need bodies and we need money. It is not enough for people to pat us on the back and say what a great job we are doing or that they think the law is stupid. We have to get people to act, with their time, their effort, and their cash. This fight has been and will continue to be expensive and time consuming. Without financial and physical support, we will not be able to continue.
  4. As the provincial election date draws near, our focus must change to become more political. The rallying cry of My Dog Votes will draw dog owners of all types together to persuade politicians that the dog-owning public is a huge and powerful force, one that will vote based on how they and their dogs will be treated. The micro-managing laws that are becoming the norm must not be allowed to continue. Breed-specific legislation is just one symptom of a larger problem – the desire to separate dogs from the public, from interactions with people, with other dogs, with children, and ultimately the desire to end dog ownership, particularly in the urban environment. This cannot be accepted or, not too long from now, nobody will be owning dogs, period.

City TV attended. Their coverage of the event, including video, can found here.

To those who did attend, thank you.

Ontario Labrador Retriever Ban: UPDATE

On Wednesday, Caveat posted an article describing the potential for a ban on Labrador Retrievers in the province of Ontario, already infamous for its ban on “pit bulls and anything that sort of looks like one”.

Today, a further article was posted, providing a much-requested explanation of the first piece.

If you want to really understand how the Ontario ban and others like it are not so much about dogs as they are about journalism, politics, and your rights, the second article is a must-read.

If you care, even one iota, about the future of dog ownership in this country, then don’t miss this opportunity to learn.

Ontario Ban turns ONE August 29

August 29, 2006, is the one year anniversary of Ontario’s amended Dog Owners’ Liability Act. We hope you will join us at Queen’s Park (Toronto) on Sunday, August 27, 2006 at 7:00 PM.

Please see the following note for details or visit Caveat’s blog at

Caveat’s site has a well-designed printable flyer (PDF format) for distribution in your neighbourhood. It also provides important details about the law and its violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

VIGIL INFORMATION:Still fighting for our rights and our dogs’ lives

Bryant’s Amendments to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act:
Enacted on August 29, 2005

Candlelight Vigil One Year Anniversary
Sunday, August 27th, 2006
7 pm – 10 pm
Queens Park, Toronto, ON

It started with “Pit Bull” types – which breed types will be next?

Candles provided with a donation to the Legal Challenge Fund.

Organized by members of the Banned Aid Coalition.

Please come and show your support.
Banned “Pit Bull” type dogs must be in compliance with the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (leashed/muzzled/sterilized)

The legal challenge continues- we need your support

At the end of EVERY leash there is a VOTER.

The Dalton and Michael Awards

A prestigious British business magazine owned by the Financial Times has named Premier Dalton McGuinty its world “personality of the year.”

Praising him as “outgoing and upbeat in that very North American way,” the five-year-old publication hails his “infectious enthusiasm” and notes that “should Ontarians run short on energy, they could always plug in to their high-octane leader.”

Read the entire article from Foreign Direct Investment magazine

Here’s the original Toronto Star article

Here are the responses from the Ontario PC party and the Ontario NDP party

So much did I appreciate the additional awards suggested by the Progressive Conservatives that I am proposing that these additional awards be presented to Michael Bryant, the Attorney General of Ontario and architect of that province’s infamous “pit bull” ban.

The Hill’s Public Relations Award of the CVMA for enhancing the public image of the veterinary profession because “you can be one, too” according to his new dog legislation.

The CVMA Humane Award for having contributed significantly to the welfare and well-being of animals, particularly by publicly promoting the “humanity” of mass destruction of thousands of dogs and the eventual extinction of three purebred breeds.

The Human Rights Award (or the Human Rights Lawyer of the Year Award) for warrantless entries, groundless seizure of private property, and discriminatory imprisonment of Canadian citizens.

The Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering that one type of dog can lock its jaws, despite all scientific and biological evidence to the contrary.

The Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering that a dog may have extra levels of endorphins in its brain because of the way its body is shaped. A second prize was awarded for providing an unlimited supply of healthy, good-tempered dogs to biological research facilities.

The Canadian Journal of Statistics Award for the discovery of new methods of calculations that can produce extremely high and prejudicial numbers from extraordinarily small and unreliable data.

The Lawmaker of the Year Award for creating what is arguably the most vague and uninterpretable law in the country.

The City of Toronto’s Outstanding Commitment to Community Safety Award for removing from our streets, our fields, and our family rooms, these unidentifiable, indefinable, mythical monsters with no history of unusual danger to the public.

The Child Safety Award in recognition of the entire Ontario Liberal government’s commitment to child safety, as encapsulated so succintly in the Legislature by Tim Peterson (Liberal MPP for Mississauga South) who spouted, “One child attacked, one person killed, are too many for a breed of dog”, conveniently ignoring the fact that at least 12 unique breeds have killed people in Canada and over 35 unique breeds have killed people in the United States, also ignoring the fact that virtually every breed on the planet has attacked at least one child.

There is one more award that doesn’t exist yet, but should: Mr. Bryant should receive country-wide recognition for violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms not once, not twice, not even three, four, or five times, but SIX times in a single piece of legislation. That must be a record and is certainly worthy of acknowledgment.

Have they found the mythical "pit bull"?

Anyone who follows the fight against breed-specific legislation is well aware of one of the main complaints about laws aimed at the most targeted type of dog, the issue being that there is no such thing as a “pit bull”.

The argument goes something like this:

First, you take some or all of five or so purebred breeds and you list them.

Then, because there are only a small number of purebred dogs of this type and because the owners of purebred dogs tend to keep hold of them and not let them run around biting people, you add a phrase such as “substantially similar” or “with similar physical characteristics”, to include as many dogs as possible in the hopes of catching the few that bite.

The purebred dogs and the many mixed-breed mutts that fit the catch-all phrase can now be referred to by a single identifier: “pit bull”.

In addition, we have the media representation and public perception of the dreaded “pit bull” as, essentially, any medium to large sized dog that is even remotely muscular and that has attacked, bitten, nipped, threatened, barked, run loose, charged a fence, played rough, or has, in some person’s opinion, caused someone, somewhere, some concern or fear.

Many members of the public have never even seen a purebred dog of the targeted breeds. In Ontario, there are a minute number of these dogs born each year to breeders registered with the CKC, the AKC, the UKC, or the ADBA. If someone has seen a dog he thought was a “pit bull”, it is most likely to have been a backyard-bred mutt of unknown lineage. The bigger the dog is, the more muscular the dog is, AND, most importantly, the more out-of-control or aggressive the dog is, the more likely it is that the uneducated, media-misinformed person will identify the dog as a “pit bull”.

Eventually, through selective and inflammatory stories in the media, with the help of politicians’ carefully crafted sound bites, the phrase “pit bull” begins to represent a mythical creature of legendary strength with a ferocity unrivaled in the animal world. The very words strike terror into the hearts of those who have never seen, touched, played with, or slept with one.

Some of the phrases used by politicians and gobbled up by the media (and eventually the public) are:

  • ticking time bombs
  • inherently dangerous animals
  • terrorizing the neighbourhood
  • 150 pound beast knocking a fence over and charging kids
  • eaten alive from the ankles up
  • we cannot have these animals walking the streets
  • it is a breed apart
  • this is far more “bull” than “pet”
  • locking jaws
  • extra endorphin in the brain
  • bred to kill
  • something has to be done about these dogs
  • afraid of nothing
  • something is wrong with people who own “pit bulls”
  • when they attack, they don’t stop
  • assault weapons of the canine world
  • kids are being killed

In Ontario, every one of these phrases has been used by a politician or a reporter, yet not one has ever been backed up by facts or statistics, not even once. Each of these statements was simply launched, heard, and accepted, without question.

I believe, however, that we have finally solved the mystery of the mythical “pit bull”. A strange beast has been found, dead, in Turner, Maine. It had been terrorizing the neighbourhood for years, killing pets and frightening residents. On one occasion, a lady even managed to “lock eyes” with the beast for a few seconds.

Here are some of the descriptions from the original article:

  • mysterious creature
  • mauled dogs
  • frightened residents
  • subject of local legend
  • hybrid mutant of something
  • evil, evil looking
  • horrible stench
  • half-rodent, half-dog
  • curled fangs hanging over its lips
  • something out of a Stephen King story
  • this is something I’ve never seen before … it’s an evil-looking thing
  • chilling monstrous cries
  • eyes that glow in the night
  • killed a Doberman and a Rottweiler
  • mystery monster that roams the woods

Wow, I think it really is the missing “pit bull”! Nobody can define it, but everyone knows one when they see it.

Read the whole story for yourself here (including a picture of the dead beast).

It’s a shame that Maine wildlife officials and animal control officers declined to pick up the body and do an autopsy, as well as take measurements and photographs. A brain scan and a physical analysis of the jaw would also have been appropriate.

Enforcement officials across the continent could have used this data to compare to that of confiscated dogs in order to determine if they really are “pit bulls”.

Animal Rights groups are a danger to you and your pet!

I generally try not to plagiarize hard-working journalists nor duplicate the efforts of other writers. I prefer to link to their articles and let you get your info directly from the horses’ mouths, so to speak.

An article in the Magic City Morning Star (Maine), however, caught my attention. In particular, the quotes at the end of the article, quotes from Animal Rights leaders, are worth repeating here.

The original article by Nick Van Duren, Colorado Director for Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States, is a definite must-read. Below, I have included the quotes from the end of his article.

“Anybody who shoots a pit bull running loose is justified”
– Kory Nelson, Assistant City Attorney of Denver, CO, San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, June 27, 2005 (Known all over as Denver’s “Dr. Death of Dogs”)

“We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. . . One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.”

– Wayne Pacelle, Senior VP of Humane Society of the US, formerly of Friends of Animals and Fund for Animals, Animal People, May, 1993. NOTE: (Wayne Pacelle’s initial training was as a PeTA activist. Today he heads HSUS under the guise of “legitimacy”. It is the largest and most profitable of the animal Rightist lobbying organizations.

“Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation.”

– Ingrid Newkirk, national director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), Just Like Us? Harper’s, August 1988, p. 50.

“As John Bryant has written in his book Fettered Kingdoms, they [pets] are like slaves, even if well-kept slaves.”

– PeTA’s Statement on Companion Animals.

“We are not especially ‘interested in’ animals. Neither of us had ever been inordinately fond of dogs, cats, or horses in the way that many people are. We didn’t ‘love’ animals.”

– Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for Our Treatment of Animals, 2nd ed. (New York Review of Books, 1990), Preface, p. ii.

“Our goal: to convince people to rescue and adopt instead of buying or selling animals, to disavow the language and concept of animal ownership.”

– Eliot Katz, President In Defense of Animals, In Defense of Animals website, 2001

“It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership.”

– Elliot Katz, President “In Defense of Animals,” Spring 1997

“The cat, like the dog, must disappear… We should cut the domestic cat free from our dominance by neutering, neutering, and more neutering, until our pathetic version of the cat ceases to exist.”

– John Bryant, Fettered Kingdoms: An Examination of A Changing Ethic (Washington, DC: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), 1982, p. 15.

“My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.”

– JP Goodwin, employed at the Humane Society of the US, formerly at Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade, as quoted on AR-Views, an animal rights Internet discussion group in 1996.

“Man is the most dangerous, destructive, selfish, and unethical animal on earth.”

– Michael W. Fox, Scientific Director and former Vice President, Humane Society of the United States, as quoted in Robert James Bidinotto

“We are not terrorists, but we are a threat. We are a threat both economically and philosophically. Our power is not in the right to vote but the power to stop production. We will break the law and destroy property until we win.”

– Dr. Steven Best, speaking at International Animal Rights Gathering 2005. The Telegram (UK) July 17, 2005.

“Arson, property destruction, burglary and theft are ‘acceptable crimes’ when used for the animal cause.”

– Alex Pacheco, Director, PETA

“Our nonviolent tactics are not as effective. We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works.”

– Ingrid Newkirk, PeTA’s founder and president, US News and World Report, April 8, 2002

“I openly hope that it [hoof-and-mouth disease] comes here. It will bring economic harm only for those who profit from giving people heart attacks and giving animals a concentration camp-like existence. It would be good for animals, good for human health and good for the environment.

– Ingrid Newkirk, PeTA founder and president, ABC News interview April 2, 2001

Muzzle ALL dogs, again?

I wrote an article a while ago in response to a columnist’s suggestion to muzzle all dogs over 40 pounds. Now we have a contributor in the Toronto Sun suggesting to muzzle all dogs, period.

Most dog bites are not serious. They result in a little cut, abrasion, or bruising. Very few require medical attention, even less require stitches, and even less result in any permanent damage. Even the bites mentioned below that may have required medical attention were mostly minor.

Most dog bites (approx 85%) happen in the family home, neighbour’s home, or relative’s home to a child that the dog knows. Muzzling in public would not prevent these bites.

Here are the numbers from my original article, taken even further after I’ve had time to think about it:

CITY OF TORONTO (approximate numbers):

Number of licensed dogs: 50,000
Estimated total dogs: between 250,000 and 500,000, depending on who’s calculating
Number of reported bites in 2004: 1,000
Number of bites requiring medical attention (at least one suture): 120 (estimated from earlier reports)
Number of bites in public: 150 (15% of all bites)
Number of bites in public requiring medical attention: approx 20

So, to possibly, maybe, perhaps prevent 20 somewhat serious bites, somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 dogs would have to be muzzled, every day, twice a day.

No more parks or beaches. No more happy greetings between dogs or to humans on the street. No more proper socialization.

The dogs will become defensive, frustrated, undersocialized, and neurotic. Their walks will be focused on the muzzles, not on their owners or their surroundings. The excitement and enjoyment of their daily outings will be replaced by misery and conflict.

If and when one of those dogs gets loose from their backyard, it will be much more likely to bite than a dog who has met and played with hundreds of children and dogs throughout its life.

To me, this is not a valid tradeoff, especially when 79 people were murdered in Toronto last year and 59 died in car accidents. You want to save lives? Focus on that and leave the dog owners alone!

From Good Citizen to Criminal at the Stroke of a Pen

One entry to the Toronto Sun’s 2006 “guest column” competition got an honourable mention and was printed in the August 11 paper. The newspaper’s title for it was “Dog Ban is the Pits”.

Here’s the full text of the column:

I am an intelligent, well-spoken, middle-aged male. I graduated high school and college at the top of my class. I have a good job as a computer professional, a house in a nice neighbourhood, and a decent car.

I live in Toronto with my wife, my daughter, my 4-year-old grandson, and two dogs.

I obey the law and consider myself to be a good citizen of society. I am not a drug dealer, a gangster, or a hoodlum.

Life would be good, except for one thing.

Thanks to a new Ontario law, I am constantly at risk of being branded a criminal and facing six months in jail.

My two non-purebred dogs appear to be American Pit Bull Terriers, one of North America’s oldest, most decorated, and most trusted family breeds.

Does that change the way you think of me? Have I suddenly become a bad person or a second-class citizen?

Does it matter to you that my dogs have Canine Good Neighbour titles and obedience titles or that my older one would have become a therapy dog if not for this law?

Does it make a difference that my dogs will ignore belligerent and aggressive dogs or that a perfect stranger can put their hands into my car windows with no fear of anything other than a good lick?

If a “pit bull attack” happens, it won’t be one of my dogs. I don’t allow my dogs to run loose and bite.

I don’t want to be painted with the same brush as someone who can’t figure out that his out-of-control, untrained, unsocialized, alone-in-the-backyard mutt might one day get out and hurt someone.

I have met and worked with enough dangerous dogs in my life, of many different breeds, to know that this law will not make you or your family safer. All it’s really doing is making mine miserable.

We cannot enjoy our walks through the woods and on the beach like other dog owners, because my “girls” just keep trying to get their muzzles off. I know of other owners who go out at 2 a.m., just so that their dogs can get some exercise.

They’re always looking over their shoulders for police officers because the penalty for what they’re doing is the mandatory death of their dog: Average citizens forced by a discriminatory government into becoming criminals.

Forget the breed of my dogs for one moment and imagine that you were targeted this way.

How would you react? Would you stand up and fight or would you lie there quietly and let them kill your dog and thousands like her?

Ontario is killing healthy, well-adjusted dogs at a rate unimaginable two years ago. Not aggressive. No behaviour problems. Not sick. Not injured. Perfectly adoptable. Wrong body.

Newborn puppies are required to be destroyed in this province. I don’t use the word “euthanized,” which is the mercy killing of sick or injured animals. This is destruction, plain and simple.

Want to help? Look up “Bill 132” on the Internet and help the organizations that are fighting this discrimination. Then, in October 2007, vote this Ontario Liberal government out of office and send them a letter now telling them why. While you’re at it, send a copy to the Sun.

10 Tips for Successful Involvement in Canine Legislation

Courtesy of the American Kennel Club and adapted for Canadian content, here are ten tips for successful involvement in canine legislation.

1. Pay attention to the local news.

It is important to follow your local news carefully, watching for the kind of events that may trigger a dog related proposal by your local government. And don’t forget to read the public notices section of the local newspaper. It announces legislative meetings, hearings, and details that the main stories might miss.

2. Take advantage of local information sources.

Your city or county courthouse, your public library, the staff or clerk of the local government, and even members of the media are all equipped to answer your legislative questions. Most phone books list numbers of local and government offices, and many governments send free informational materials. Don’t be afraid to take your questions to the source.

3. Familiarize yourself with the local legislative process.

What is involved in getting a proposal passed into law in your area? Are public hearings required before the assembly or city council can vote? Are meetings open to the public? Can the mayor veto a bill? etc.

4. Know how you can become involved.

How can you get on the agenda to speak at a hearing? Are there rules for speaking? How far in advance are hearings announced, and where are such announcements posted? What is involved in becoming a member of a special task force or study committee should such an issue arise?

5. Get to know your local officials.

Learn who they are, what they support, when they were elected and when they come up for re-election. What are their personal interests? Do they have any pets? Arrange to meet with them to introduce yourself and your club’s interests.

6. Acquaint yourself with your provincial representatives.

Become familiar with their names and interests. Find out who represents your district, and the districts in which your club has members. And don’t forget those staff members! They can be valuable contacts, and great sources of information.

7. Find out which committees in your provincial and local government handle canine concerns.

An agriculture committee may deal with kennel regulations or zoning, while a commerce committee may monitor the sale of dogs. Get your name on these committees’ mailing lists to receive information about upcoming hearings and agendas.

8. Learn about your federal representatives.

Who are the representatives from your province? On which committees do they serve? What are their interests? What issues do they support? When is the next election, and which of them will be on the ballot?

9. Involve your club.

Encourage club members to take an interest in legislative concerns. Share your legislative news with them regularly, so that they will not be surprised if you suddenly need their help. Organize a phone chain or another efficient form of contact so that you can alert club members easily if an issue arises requiring a rapid response.

10. Communicate with other groups.

Talk to groups that share your concern for canine welfare. In addition to other dog clubs, local shelters, veterinary societies, or animal owner groups make valuable allies. Remember, there is strength in numbers. Cooperation is often the key to success.

Courtesy and copyright of the American Kennel Club.
Adapted by Steve Barker for Canadian content and application.

Corporations and your buying power

In an earlier article, I introduced you to Shire, a licensed pet therapy dog working with special needs children in New Brunswick. She has been targeted by the town of Florenceville because she is a Rottweiler.

Her owner is an employee of McCain Foods Canada and moved to Florenceville as part of his job with McCain. McCain has chosen not to intervene to save Shire.

At what point does an employer, or even a corporation with no direct personal interest in an issue, become responsible as a contributing member of society and at what point do we hold them accountable through the use of our purchasing power?

Here is my e-mail to McCain Foods Limited, very short and not so sweet:

Save Shire the Rottweiler in Florenceville or lose:

– my business
– my friends’ business
– my co-workers’ business
– my clients’ business (dog trainer)
– my suppliers’ business
– every contact I have around the world

Clear enough?

Here is their response, also short and not so sweet:

Thank you for taking the time to write us regarding your concerns about the Village of Florenceville, the Rottweiler named Shire and your wish for a McCain Foods Canada intervention.

As I hope you can appreciate, McCain Foods Canada views this as public policy issue to be settled between the village council of Florenceville and one of its citizens.

The village council has been duly-elected by the people of Florenceville and therefore should represent the majority interest of its constituents.

We are hopeful that an outcome will be found that works for all interested parties.


McCain Foods Canada

Because of this response, McCain will no longer be receiving any of my hard-earned cash and I will be following through with the rest of my promise to them. This means that I will no longer be buying any of the following items:

  • McCains frozen fries, drinks and desserts (and pizza)
  • Maple Leaf meats
  • Dempsters breads
  • Oliveri
  • Hygrade (in Quebec)
  • Burns
  • Shopsys
  • Tenderflake
  • Nutriwhip
  • California Goldminer Sourdough
  • Maison Cousin
  • Canada Bread
  • Olafson’s
  • POM
  • Ben’s
  • Jon-Lin
  • Elio’s

So why am I doing this? What does McCain Foods have to do with Shire and her predicament? Why do they have to respond at all?

Well, frankly, they don’t. It’s entirely up to them and it’s their decision to make. It’s also entirely up to me where I decide to spend my money and for what reasons. If I don’t like something about a company, I don’t have to buy from them. Simple, but effective.

There are many Americans who will only buy American-made products because they prefer to see their money remain in the United States. Have the foreign companies done anything wrong or socially unacceptable? No, but those consumers who prefer to buy American are choosing not to spend their money on foreign products because of an underlying political belief that permeates all of their life decisions.

A die-hard believer in animal rights (i.e., no use of animals for any human purpose) may choose not to wear leather or fur. In that case, they believe that the leather and fur companies are actually doing wrong, so it’s even easier for them to shun those purchases.

PetSmart decides that “bull-and-terrier” type dogs (American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs) are not welcome at their doggy day camps. Consequently, owners of “bull-and-terrier” dogs (of which there are an estimated five million in North America) AND many owners of other breeds now choose not to shop at PetSmart.

You get the idea. Sometimes, it’s obvious. Sometimes, you may need to dig deeper.

You don’t even have to disagree with a company’s policies in order to decide against buying from them. You may have a choice among three companies. One actively engages in activities that you don’t agree with, so that decision is easy. The second stays out of everything, doesn’t get involved. The third actively pursues a positive agenda that, in your mind, improves society. If you are serious about encouraging that type of societal involvement from corporations, then you would choose to purchase from number three (and, ideally, you would let all three companies know why).

For example, imagine that your family has been severely affected by cancer and you have decided that you want to support cancer research in whatever way you can. You donate to cancer research foundations, you volunteer, you do as much as you can. Now, in your area, there are three grocery chains from which you can buy your household food. The first sells cigarettes. The second doesn’t sell cigarettes, but doesn’t actively or publicly promote anything. The third not only doesn’t sell cigarettes, but is active in the community promoting cancer research, putting on events to raise money, advertising the same on TV and radio, etc. You will choose the third, even though the second isn’t technically doing anything wrong, because you know that at least some of the profits from your purchases are going to help cancer research.

McCain Foods falls into the second category – a company that chooses to do nothing.

First and foremost, unlike many other situations in which we find breed-specific legislation, here we have a small town with a huge employer. There is no doubt in my mind, whatsoever, that McCain Foods has influence with town officials in Florenceville. Florenceville is the chosen location not only for McCain Foods Canada, but for the head office of the entire McCain organization worldwide. If it becomes important enough to them, the company will start to make waves.

Second, doing nothing is not always good enough, not even for faceless corporate entities. Sometimes you have to stand up and speak out against things that you think are wrong, even if they’re not directly within your particular sphere of interest.

Third, when I see someone doing nothing AFTER the injustice has been pointed out to them and they have been given the opportunity to get involved, then I start feeling like I really don’t want to give them my business.

So, am I blaming McCain’s? Not really. They’re just doing what most companies try to do – avoid rocking the boat. But, since nobody’s forcing me to spend my money with them, I’m choosing not to. That’s all. It’s my own personal decision and I’m not suggesting that anybody else do the same. You make your own choices and I’ll make mine. Democracy in action!

Now, if McCain’s were to perk up and start knocking some heads together down home in Florenceville, maybe I’d change my mind.

Shire Shunned – Shameful

Shire is a licensed pet therapy dog working with special needs children in New Brunswick.

During her life, Shire has never done anything to cause people to dislike her, be afraid of her, or reject her. On the contrary, she has performed her duties impeccably, despite her own life-and-death struggles with illness.

The town of Florenceville, New Brunswick, believes she needs to die and will kill her if she steps foot in their town.

Animal Control of Florenceville wish to seize her.

The RCMP (national Canadian police) are on the lookout for her.


Because she’s a Rottweiler and Rottweilers are banned in Florenceville. This, despite the fact that the Florenceville town clerk’s office told her owners BEFORE they moved that there were no breed bans in the town. This information was repeated to their real estate agent.

McCain Foods, the employer of Shire’s owner, refuses to step in and help, even though the reason her owner moved to Florenceville was because of his job with McCain’s.

Dog Politics has a complete article on this.

The town councillors in Florenceville don’t seem to care if anyone wants to visit their small town, even though it’s been made abundantly clear to them that responsible, caring dog owners won’t ever step foot in their village.

Unfortunately, McCain’s, the major employer in the town, seems to be taking the political non-road by refusing to get involved. Since Florenceville doesn’t care that the rest of the world is mad at them, maybe McCain’s will.

Online contact for McCain’s is:


Regular mail:

McCain Foods Limited
107 Main Street
Florenceville, N.B.
E7L 1B2

The phone number to reach the main switchboard of the corporate headquarters is 506-392-5541.

Contact info for the village of Florenceville is:

381 Main Street
Florenceville, NB
E7L 3G8

Tel: (506)392-5249
Fax: (506)392-6143

Email: villflor@nbnet.nb.ca

Courtesy of a comment posted on the Dog Politics article, some of McCain’s products are:

McCains frozen fries, drinks and desserts (and pizza)
Maple Leaf meats
Dempsters breads
Hygrade (in Quebec)
California Goldminer Sourdough
Maison Cousin
Canada Bread

Dog Owner? Stand up and SAY SOMETHING!

Dogs are one of the most micro-managed properties that we own. The obvious others are cars and guns.

In 2005, in Toronto alone, there were 79 homicides. Of those, 52 people were murdered by criminals using guns.

In 2005, in Toronto alone, 59 people died as a result of car accidents and, as of the end of July 2006, we’re almost 50% higher than the same time last year. In the Greater Toronto area, 229 people died in traffic accidents in 2005.

In 2005, there were no deaths in the city of Toronto from dog bites. In fact, there were no deaths from dogs in the entire country, period. This year, there have been three throughout the country, higher than the usual one per year, but still a minute number amongst the estimated six million or more dogs in Canada.

Despite this glaringly obvious lack of danger to society from dogs, Canadian dog owners are facing more breed-specific legislation and more restrictive all-breed laws than ever before.

If we actually have a “dog problem”, which I don’t believe we do, it is absolutely possible to manage it through the proper use of education, enforcement, and prosecution, without having to restrict the freedom of those people who have properly trained and socialized their dogs and whose pets are good citizens of society.

The city of Calgary, Alberta, has been upheld as a model of effective animal control. Some of their effectiveness in reducing dog bites has been attributed to an aggressive dog licensing policy. Although effective, this is not the sole reason for their success.

Calgary has a few other things that I believe have had a significant effect on their bite statistics:

  1. The city has dedicated education officers. Their city website has bite education information. Their animal control officers are educated and spend time educating others.
  2. The penalties for non-compliance, and particularly for allowing your dog to bite or attack, are very high.
  3. If your dog bites someone, it’s very difficult to get your dog back. You have to pay high fines and you have to comply with detailed and expensive management requirements, such as an enclosure in your yard, spay/neuter, microchip, etc.
  4. Calgary has over 300 leash-free parks. Toronto, a city two and a half times the size, has 30. Off-leash parks, although definitely not for every dog or every owner, provide opportunities for dogs to interact with other dogs in an unrestrictive environment where dogs have the option of flight rather than just fight. Dogs learn bite inhibition and doggie manners through puppy play and this is extended into adult life through off-leash parks.

Here are some examples of current dog laws throughout Canada:

– mandatory city licence tag
– mandatory rabies tag
– mandatory microchip
– leash no longer than 2 metres (6.6 feet)
– maximum two or three dogs in a house
– length of tethers/chains and length of time tethered/chained
– prohibit tethers/chains
– fully fenced backyard if off leash
– walked by someone 16 or older
– not allowed within one metre of a person or a pet of a person who does not give consent
– not allowed within one metre of wild birds or animals
– not allowed in restaurants (or even on their patios)
– not allowed in stores
– no dogs over a certain size (condos especially, but also in some cities in the United States)
– no “threatening/menacing behaviour” or “apparent attitude of attack” towards people or animals

Here are some examples of the restrictions required by breed-specific laws in this country and in the U.S.:

– size-specific or breed-specific bans or restrictions
– muzzling and leashing in public
– muzzling and leashing in cars
– extra-short leash lengths
– automatic dangerous or vicious dog designation, without any bite history
– banning from city parks and beaches where other breeds are allowed
– banning from leash-free parks where other breeds are allowed
– banning completely from jurisdiction (although sometimes existing dogs are allowed to stay)
– special (i.e., more expensive) licensing and jurisdiction-wide registry
– special tags identifying the dog as a restricted dog
– mandatory microchipping and photograph
– mandatory insurance (often one million dollars) for each individual dog on the premises
– mandatory signage indicating the presence of the dog on the owner’s property
– mandatory secure enclosures (in some cases, mandatory chaining)
– mandatory spay/neuter (to eventually eliminate the breed entirely)
– higher fines and/or jail time if a restricted breed bites or menaces
– fines and/or jail time for any infraction of any provision regarding restricted breeds
– age limit for walking the dog in public
– persons with criminal records not allowed to own a restricted breed
– ability of law enforcement to stop owners on the street just to check the dog’s status
– ability of law enforcement to seize dogs without proof of wrongdoing
– ability of law enforcement to enter an owner’s home, with or without a warrant, to investigate and/or seize a dog

Instead of all these micro-managing laws, whose authors must have tried to imagine every possible disaster that a dog could create, why not try the following?

You are responsible for all of your dog’s actions, period. You are financially responsible for any damage, pain, or injury your dog may cause. If your dog bites, you’re responsible for medical bills and for pain and suffering caused. Prior to its complete rewrite by the Ontario Liberals (which they termed an “amendment”), the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act already held dog owners financially responsible for damage or injury caused by their dog. Properly applied and prosecuted, it would have done its job well.

To expand on this approach, if your dog bites seriously, you should be charged with criminally causing bodily harm. In other words, your dog is an extension of your body. Anything your dog does is as if you did it. You should be charged with the same offence as if you personally had injured the person. Criminal charges should be laid if the injuries are serious or fatal or if you were negligent.

Your dog should be subject to the same trespassing, noise, and cleanliness bylaws that you are. We don’t need dog-specific laws to deal with these issues. Repeated offences should result in more serious charges being laid. The charges of “public mischief” and “being a common nuisance” could be used.

Proper education lets people know what’s expected of them, how to accomplish it, and what the penalties are for non-compliance. High penalties, combined with education, strongly encourage owner responsibility and accountability.

These invasive, meddling, picky little by-laws were created because of the occasional irresponsible owner, not because there were hoards of dogs roaming the streets, pooping on front lawns, and attacking children. These laws appear to have been created by dog-haters, or at least by people who don’t have a clue what owning a dog is really about, and they certainly seem designed to make it as difficult, expensive, and unpleasant as possible to own a dog, especially ones that look a certain way.

Micro-management encourages underground circumvention of the law. We don’t need individual, specific, hand-holding bylaws that remove any enjoyment responsible owners may get from their pet. We need consequences for people who allow their pets to hurt other people, interfere with other people’s enjoyment of life, and damage other people’s property. People need to become afraid to be careless with their dogs.

There is no “dog problem” in this city, in this province, in this country. Lawmakers are creating a dog problem by restricting every freedom that used to be the norm for dog owners. By taking every possible opportunity to reduce the interaction of dogs with other dogs, with children, and with life in general, they are causing these dogs to become undersocialized, neurotic, and defensive. Then, when the dogs do, inevitably, interact with someone, somewhere, they’re not emotionally stable enough to handle it.

One of my favourite lines is from a book called “Dogs Bite, But Balloons And Slippers Are More Dangerous” by Janis Bradley. I have to paraphrase it because I don’t have the book in front of me. She says, “Dogs almost never kill. They rarely bite and, when they do, they hardly ever injure, and when they do, it’s seldom serious.”

Her point is that the vast majority of dog bites in this country, even the ones that are reported, result in such minor injuries that, if it weren’t a dog that had caused it, we would stick a band-aid on it and get on with our lives. Instead, an injury that is actually the equivalent of a minor kitchen knife cut becomes one more notch in a stack of unreliable statistics, which eventually are used to prove the danger of one particular breed or even of dogs in general.

This comment is absolutely not intended to trivialize those deaths or serious injuries that occasionally do happen. The point is that dog bites or attacks do not happen at anything close to the regularity or severity that is insinuated by the media, promoted by the politicians, and believed by the general TV-viewing, newspaper-reading public. The true frequency and nature of dog bites does not justify the intense scrunity and management that is being applied today.

If we applied today’s laws to dogs of lore, Lassie would not be allowed to run loose to save her young master countless times and Petie from Our Gang would probably be dead (or at least muzzled) and he certainly would not be allowed to hang out with a bunch of five and six year olds.

Let’s encourage our politicians to give us back our freedom. Approximately half of the people in this country own dogs or live with them. That is bigger than any other demographic and our lawmakers need to be made aware of this.

Once dog owners realize the power that they have, they will vote according to how politicians are willing to treat them as dog owners. Dogs are family members to many and politicians are going to learn, the easy way or the hard way, that MY DOG VOTES!

Visit http://www.mydogvotes.com/ to see how an increasing number of dog owners are fighting back.

Deaths from injury in USA 2002

The National Safety Council published a report showing the odds of dying by various types of injury in the USA in 2002. I have sorted it by the number of deaths for each type of injury and excluded the odds columns for ease of viewing. Note the deaths from being bitten or struck by a dog, almost at the bottom (18).

Source: National Safety Council http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm

Data below is for 2002. NSC’s current page shows data for 2003.

 Deaths   Description

164,112   Total Deaths by Injury

  17,108   Intentional Self-Harm – Intentional self-harm by firearm

  16,337   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Car occupant

  14,128   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Other land transport accidents

  11,829   Assault – Assault by firearm

   8,264   Unintentional Injuries – Narcotics and psychodysleptics [hallucinogens] n.e.c.

   7,889   Unintentional Falls – Other and unspecified fall

   7,596   Unintentional Injuries – Accidental exposure to other and unspecified factors and sequelae

   6,884   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified drugs, medicaments, and biologicals

   6,462   Intentional Self-Harm – Intentional self-harm by hanging, strangulation, and suffocation

   6,091   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Pedestrian

   5,486   Intentional Self-Harm – Intentional self-poisoning

   4,286   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of pick-up truck or van

   3,735   Assault – Other and unspecified means and sequelae

   3,610   Unintentional Falls – Other fall on same level

   3,336   Undetermined Intent – Poisoning

   3,215   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Motorcycle rider

   2,940   Unintentional Injuries – Inhalation and ingestion of other objects causing obstruction of respiratory tract

   2,843   Complications of medical and surgical care and sequelae

   2,599   Intentional Self-Harm – Other and unspecified means and sequelae

   2,533   Unintentional Injuries – Uncontrolled fire in building or structure

   2,074   Assault – Assault by sharp object

   1,598   Unintentional Falls – Fall on and from stairs and steps

   1,325   Unintentional Injuries – Drowning and submersion while in or falling into natural water

   1,134   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified drowning and submersion

   1,024   Unintentional Injuries – Antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic, antiparkinsonism, and psychotropic drugs n.e.c.

     864   Unintentional Injuries – Struck by or striking against object

     819   Unintentional Injuries – Inhalation and ingestion of food causing obstruction of respiratory tract

     785   Unintentional Falls – Fall involving bed, chair, other furniture

     776   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of all-terrain or other off-road motor vehicle

     767   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Pedalcyclist

     766   Unintentional Falls – Other fall from one level to another

     762   Unintentional Injuries – Firearms discharge

     691   Unintentional Injuries – Gases and vapours

     657   Undetermined Intent – Other and unspecified means and sequelae

     653   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Air and space transport accidents

     652   Unintentional Injuries – Contact with machinery

     646   Unintentional Falls – Fall on same level from slipping, tripping, and stumbling

     646   Unintentional Injuries – Exposure to excessive natural cold

     636   Unintentional Injuries – Drowning and submersion while in or falling into swimming-pool

     618   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Unspecified transport accident

     557   Unintentional Falls – Fall from out of or through building or structure

     509   Unintentional Injuries – Accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed

     507   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified threats to breathing

     456   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of heavy transport vehicle

     413   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Drowning,

     406   Unintentional Falls – Fall on and from ladder or scaffolding

     369   Unintentional Injuries – Inhalation of gastric contents

     355   Unintentional Injuries – Alcohol

     352   Unintentional Injuries – Drowning and submersion while in or falling into bath-tub

     350   Unintentional Injuries – Exposure to excessive natural heat

     322   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified electric current

     320   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified smoke fire and flames

     300   Legal Intervention – Firearm discharge

     297   Unintentional Injuries – Other accidental hanging and strangulation

     259   Undetermined Intent – Drowning and submersion

     243   Undetermined Intent – Firearm discharge

     222   Unintentional Injuries – Nonopioid analgesics, antipyretics, and antirheumatics

     204   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Other water transport accidents

     149   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of special agricultural vehicle

     137   Unintentional Injuries – Explosion of other materials

     133   Undetermined Intent – Hanging, strangulation, and suffocation

     128   Unintentional Injuries – Overexertion, travel and privation

     118   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Animal rider or occupant of animal-drawn vehicle

     115   Unintentional Injuries – Caught between objects

     110   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified chemicals and noxious substances

     109   Unintentional Injuries – Electric transmission lines

     105   Unintentional Injuries – Contact with sharp objects

     104   Unintentional Injuries – Ignition or melting of other clothing and apparel

     103   Undetermined Intent – Falling, jumping, or pushed from a high place

      99   Undetermined Intent – Exposure to smoke, fire, and flames

      75   Unintentional Injuries – Bitten or struck by other mammals,

      71   Unintentional Injuries – Ignition of highly flammable material

      67   Legal Intervention – Legal execution

      66   Unintentional Injuries – Lightning

      63   Unintentional Injuries – Cataclysmic storm

      62   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified heat and hot substances

      57   Unintentional Injuries – Threat to breathing due to cave-in, falling earth and other substances

      54   Unintentional Injuries – Contact with hornets, wasps and bees

      54   Unintentional Injuries – Exposure to other and unspecified forces of nature

      53   Unintentional Injuries – Uncontrolled fire not in building or structure

      43   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Bus occupant

      40   Unintentional Injuries – Contact with hot tap-water

      37   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified inanimate mechanical forces

      35   Unintentional Injuries – Controlled fire in building or structure

      32   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of special construction vehicle

      31   Unintentional Injuries – Earthquake and other earth movements

      30   Unintentional Injuries – Controlled fire not in building or structure

      28   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of railway train or railway vehicle

      27   Unintentional Injuries – Explosion and rupture of pressurized devices

      26   Unintentional Injuries – Struck by or against another person

      23   Unintentional Injuries – Foreign body entering through skin or natural orifice

      21   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of three-wheeled motor vehicle

      20   Operations of war and sequelae

      19   Unintentional Injuries – Confined to or trapped in a low-oxygen environment

      18   Unintentional Injuries – Bitten or struck by dog

      17   Legal Intervention – Other and unspecified means and sequelae

      15   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of special industrial vehicle

      13   Unintentional Injuries – Bitten or stung by nonvenomous insect and other arthropods

      13   Unintentional Injuries – High and low air pressure and changes in air pressure

      13   Unintentional Injuries – Ignition or melting of nightwear

      12   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified animate mechanical forces

      12   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Other specified transport accidents

      10   Unintentional Injuries – Contact with venomous spiders

      10   Unintentional Injuries – Excessive heat or cold of man-made origin

       9   Unintentional Injuries – Contact with other and unspecified venomous animal or plant

       9   Unintentional Injuries – Flood

       5   Unintentional Injuries – Fireworks discharge

       4   Unintentional Transport Accidents – Occupant of streetcar

       3   Unintentional Injuries – Contact with venomous snakes and lizards

       0   Unintentional Injuries – Bitten or crushed by other reptiles

       0   Unintentional Injuries – Other and unspecified man-made environmental factors

       0   Unintentional Injuries – Radiation

The Media – Friend, Foe, or Impartial Watchdog?

Yesterday, in response to my various articles that have analyzed, dissected, and attacked news reports and opinion columns in the media, a friend asked me, “Why do you care what words the media uses? Why do you pick on certain phrases?”

A good question deserves a good answer.

Never, ever forget that, with the exception of the rare individual who makes unpopular decisions because they’re the right thing to do, most politicians allow public opinion to guide their policies. This is truer today than ever before in the history of our Canadian governments, federal and provincial. The masters of this are, without a doubt, the members of the government of Ontario. Putting aside the dog issue for the moment, it seems that their entire reign of micromanagement and interference has been guided by what they perceived to be public opinion at the time.

The following quotations echo this sentiment:

In government offices which are sensitive to the vehemence and passion of mass sentiment public men have no sure tenure. They are in effect perpetual office seekers, always on trial for their political lives, always required to court their restless constituents.
Walter Lippmann, U.S. journalist, The Public Philosophy, ch. 2, sct. 4 (1955)

Government is being founded on opinion, the opinion of the public, even when it is wrong, ought to be respected to a certain degree.
Thomas Jefferson, letter, February 9, 1791, to Nicholas Lewis

Englishmen never will be slaves: they are free to do whatever the Government and public opinion allow them to do.
George Bernard Shaw, The Devil, in Man and Superman, act 3 (1903)

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much.
Abraham Lincoln, speech at a Republican banquet, Chicago, Illinois, Dec. 10, 1856

So, if our political leaders are making decisions based on public opinion, then fiascos like the committee hearings on Bill 132 in Ontario become less puzzling. It was clear, at the end of those hearings, when the clause-by-clause voting began, that the government never had any intention of changing their position, regardless of the facts or expertise presented. In the end, their entire membership voted the party line.

If this is truly the case, if our leaders are leading based on public sentiment, then what the populace believes becomes of paramount importance. This comes back to Abraham Lincoln’s statement that “whoever can change public opinion can change the government”.

How does the average member of the public learn about current events? By virtue of the fact that the events are current, the only immediate source of information is the mainstream media. History can be rewritten, revised, and updated as more is learned. Historical texts, journals, and documentation can be combined over time to produce a more rounded, truthful, and clear picture of reality, although even the accuracy of history is subject to the historians. Current news is much more susceptible to the whims and biases of journalists, their editors, and the media corporations.

“If it bleeds, it leads.” As an editor of a newspaper or TV newsroom, when picking and choosing from hundreds of possible leads and stories, why would you not choose the exciting, the violent, the titillating, the attractive? You can tell the truth through the media in a dozen different ways. Why not pick the “truths” that will sell the best? They’re still true. You can’t be accused of falsifying anything. You just picked certain stories and ran with them. Nothing wrong with that!

Or is there?

In a conversation prior to the Ontario ban, a local Toronto television personality told me that there is a news ticker in their newsroom that constantly displays tiny fragments, headlines, of news stories from around the world. This person said that this ticker regularly lists dog bites or attacks on its screen. The only way these stories make it to the news hour is if someone almost dies OR if it says “pit bull”.

Now, keep in mind, what they are telling us during that news hour is the TRUTH. Yes, a “pit bull” (or at least a dog that fits the government’s general description) did bite this person or that dog. The media organization and its editors cannot be accused of not telling us the truth. They don’t even really have to sensationalize anything with inflammatory words. The phrase “pit bull” and recycled video of humane society dogs lunging at the kennel bars are good enough.

So, where’s the problem? Aren’t they telling us the truth? Don’t they have a responsibility to inform the public? The public has a right to know.

Absolutely one hundred percent right. The public has a right to know. But, the public should have a right to know the WHOLE truth, not just the one-sided or myopic view of a single journalist or editor. A media organization that wants to properly inform the public should include not only the “pit bull” incident, but also the other three or four dog bites that happened in the same community on the same day, and they should receive the same coverage appropriate to their severity. This happens very rarely and, when it does, it’s usually because there is one person in that media organization that pushes for those additional stories to be told.

In Western civilization, media is power. In fact, in almost any country throughout the world, especially since the advent of television and even more so since the explosion of the Internet, significant change to government policy and to governments themselves has come about as a result of public attention and pressure. This public interest, and indeed even the public’s opinion, can be created and changed by a constant barrage of media coverage. The media does not even have to verbalize an opinion. All they have to do is keep feeding (without satisfying) that public desire for titillation. The constant images, catch phrases, and repetition do the rest.

If these stories consistently and frequently present only a fragment of reality, a snippet of the whole picture, then public opinion is formed based on fallacy, on fantasy, not on reality. And remember, according to Abraham Lincoln, public opinion is what will eventually change the government (or at least their policies).

But, you say, we have multiple news organizations available to view and read. Surely, with all that competition and various versions of the “truth”, we can receive the real picture, the whole story. Maybe, but not likely. Pick any given day and look at the news stories being presented on the major selection of TV stations or newspapers. They’re often the same. The only major difference between one organization and the next is their in-depth features, their investigative reports, their “columns”. The news stories are almost identical, usually differing only in accuracy and length.

A perfect example of this is the media coverage of the Bill 132 committee hearings in Ontario. There were four days of hearings, two of them in Toronto. During that time, there was an incredible amount of information, statistics, passion, and suggestions given to the committee members. None of it was covered by the mainstream media. But, when it was time for Michael Bryant, the Attorney General of Ontario, to speak, every station was there. The lights were blazing. The microphones were stacked in front of him. He, by the very nature of his position in government, had the advantage, the public eye. It didn’t matter that most of what he said was misinformed, incorrect, scientifically disproved, and statistically invalid. He was the one who ended up on the evening news and he was the person that the public saw and believed.

So, what are the questions that self-respecting consumers of mainstream journalism must ask themselves?

What is being reported?
Am I getting the whole story?
How is it being reported?
What words is the reporter using?
Am I being unconsciously influenced by those words?

And how do people who know the truth ensure that the rest of the public gets to hear, see, or read it?

First, we must have our facts straight. We must find out what really happened in the incidents that are in the news and we must be aware of the stories that are not being reported. We must not present half-truths on our side. We must be blameless.

Second, we must ensure that the media organizations are constantly aware of the truth. This can be accomplished through personal contacts, through letters to the editor, and through incident reporting to the newsrooms. If the media believes that there is strong enough public interest in these additional stories, they will cover them. They can become our friend, as Eric Sparling reminds us in his advice on how to write a letter to a newspaper editor. Remember his mantra: “The media is my friend. The media is my friend.”

Third, we must hold the media accountable. When they use inflammatory language, we must complain. When they fail to run comparable stories to maintain fair and balanced coverage, we must insist that they do so. This must be done respectfully, but firmly and consistently. Each major organization has an ombudsman, an internal critic, to which anyone can send a letter. Beyond that, Ontario has a press council that will review the conduct of newspapers. Canada has a broadcast standards council to oversee television and radio stations. In addition, the CRTC regulates broadcasting services and, in that capacity, can suspend or revoke a station’s licence and can obtain court orders to force a station to cease certain activities. Included in those activities is any comment that is likely to expose an individual or group to hatred or contempt or any comment that is considered false or misleading news.

Finally, the Internet is a powerful tool. Blogs have reached the stage where news organizations will read them for information and comment. Web pages, when promoted correctly and presented rationally and logically, can become sources of truth. It is, however, important to remember that most people in this country do not get their news and editorial information from the Internet and, even among those who do, the major media corporations are still the primary source of information.

Be aware of what you read or see and how it is being presented. Understand how small changes in wording can have a huge impact on what the reader believes about the story. Be careful of words that can be widely interpreted, such as “vicious”, “lunged”, “ripped”, etc. Become critical of how words can be used to marginalize and dehumanize dog owners.

Dog Politics ran an article comparing the Eight Stages of Genocide (courtesy of Genocide Watch) to the stages of breed bans. The intention of that article was never to equate human genocide with killing dogs, but rather to do a reasoned analysis of the methods used to promote and implement these types of discriminatory laws. The similarities are astounding.

I don’t intend to repeat the same analysis here, but I will list the eight stages and a brief comment about each. For each stage, I will note HOW this is accomplished through the media or, in some cases, by the media’s willingness to remain blind and ignorant.

  1. Classification: Categorize the targeted group into us vs. them. This is accomplished by public statements highlighting the differences. In our case, “pit bulls” are different, dangerous, unpredictable, whereas as “regular dogs” are not. In addition, “pit bull” owners can be classified as gang members, drug dealers, thugs, dogfighters, etc. The media is required for this.
  2. Symbolization: Give the targeted group a name or symbol. With “pit bulls”, this is accomplished through the use of the phrase “pit bull”, even though there is no such breed, and through the use of carefully selected violent images. The media is required for this.
  3. Dehumanization: By dehumanizing the targeted group and equating them with “wild beasts”, the protagonists are able to remove any public compassion towards the group. This extends from the dogs, which are “decaninized” (i.e., different from other dogs, possibly less doggy and more like wild animals), to their owners, who become different from other people. This encourages and validates vigilantism and hatred. The media is required for this.
  4. Organization: The state creates an organized public campaign against the targeted group. The media can be involved in this campaign, even unwittingly, by blindly reporting the state’s propaganda. The media does not have to consider whether the public statements are even true. All they have to do is cover the story.
  5. Polarization: Extremists drive the groups apart. On the one side, the state uses extreme examples and inflammatory stories, even though they are no more frequent or horrific than many other incidents not involving the targeted group. On the other side, the targeted group reacts strongly, sometimes violently, often giving the state even more ammunition with which to sway public opinion. An example of this is Peter Worthington’s publication of excerpts from letters to the editor. At first glance, it appears that he was doing the right thing, giving both sides equal space. But, when you know what was originally written, you realize that he took quotes out of context and picked and chose specific sentences from the original letters in order to make the writers appear extremist or less knowledgeable. So, instead of logic and reason allowing each side to consider the other’s viewpoints and perhaps bringing them closer together, Worthington’s meddling caused further polarization and classification, furthering the “us and them” agenda. Clearly, the media is involved in this step.
  6. Preparation: This involves identification (special pit bull licences, insurance, muzzling, microchipping) and separation (not allowed in public parks, not allowed outside of home without a muzzle, etc). Members of targeted groups are forced to wear identifying symbols (special tags, muzzles, property signs). It is at this point that the “round up” occurs. This is also where one neighbour will inform on another. It is at this point that the media backs off. The damage has been done. Order has been restored. No need to rock the boat now. Let the government get on with their job of protecting us and we’ll sit in the background and wait for the next attack, the next story.
  7. Extermination: The terminology of “extermination” (rather than murder) is validated by the previous classification, dehumanization, and polarization. They are different and must be eradicated. In canine terms, the politicians consistently and deliberately use the word “euthanasia” (soft death) and present mass killing as a “kind alternative” to abuse, starvation, fighting, or shelter life. Because of the prior efforts to differentiate these dogs from others, these owners from others, this mass killing is not only tolerated by the public, but is seen as a “necessary evil for the greater good”, ultimately even a good thing. As in the denial that follows, the media must be willing to ignore these mass killings in order for them to continue unchallenged.
  8. Denial: Much of the killing of dogs is done behind closed doors. Articles such as Kelley Benham’s Kennel Trash, showing the reality of mass destruction of dogs, are rare. I believe that the only reason this journalist was allowed in to that facility was because everyone, from the Sheriff on down, didn’t believe in breed-specific legislation and didn’t believe that all of those dogs should have been killed. In a normal scenario, jobs are threatened, mouths and doors are closed, documents are vague or non-existent, and, unless the owner challenges the city or province in court, the dogs die quickly, quietly, and facelessly. Often, dogs of a certain look are quickly labelled by shelter managers as aggressive or sick, when their behaviour and health is no worse than other dogs in the same shelter. When they are killed, the documentation shows that they were killed because they were aggressive or sick, when the reality is they were killed because of what they were. Obtaining proof after the fact, finding accurate historical records, sometimes even finding records by breed or at all, can be difficult or impossible. So the politicians go back in front of the cameras and tell everyone how great things are going, how the public is now safe and protected when, in reality, there is no proof. The media must be complicit in this cover-up. They must be willing to turn a blind eye, close their ears, and ignore.

Remember, all of this starts with classification, symbolization, and dehumanization. None of these require any money, any organization, any effort. All that is required is words. The right words, at the right time, spoken by the right person, and repeated over and over again, become a mantra that average news consumers start believing simply because it’s in their face, all the time. Do it often enough and dramatically enough and they’ll start repeating it to themselves and then to their friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, until it becomes “fact”.

"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.

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”;

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.

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

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“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


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“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

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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.


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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).

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“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


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“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


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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 Ci