I saw a discussion about pit bull myths on Facebook and it reminded me of some documents I have from government meetings regarding the city of Kitchener, Ontario.
In November 1996, Mr. Gary Leadston, an MPP and member of the ruling Progressive Conservative Party, introduced a bill PR71, the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo Act.
The sole purpose of this Act, if passed, was to allow the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo to regulate and prohibit the keeping of certain breeds of dogs. Up to this point, no municipality in Ontario was allowed to regulate dogs by breed.
The bill was introduced on November 18. It received one day of committee hearings on November 27, which I’ll get to later. Within a month of its first reading, it received its second and third readings and also received royal assent, all in one day, December 19.
Another month later, on January 21, 1997, Kitchener-Waterloo held their own public committee hearing, again on one day only.
A year and a half later on July 13, 1998 (I don’t know what the delay was), the city of Kitchener-Waterloo became the first municipality in Ontario to ban a class or breed of dog, namely "Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, and Pit Bull". This bylaw did not include Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers that were or could be registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.
How much things have changed in that province since then!
I thought I would point out some of the crazier things that were said at those meetings. These were statements by authorities, not by members of the general public.
I won’t include any of the statements by city councillors Jake Smola and Berry Vrbanovic, since they are politicians rather than authorities on the subject of dogs or crime, but I will note that these same two councillors were intimately involved in helping former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant develop and promote the legislation that eventually became Ontario’s pit bull ban.
Dr. Gerhard Hess was a licensed veterinarian and, at the time, was the general manager and former president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society.
Here is what Dr. Hess said at the November 27 committee meeting:
"Pit bulls are different. They have a much higher level of L tyrosine, leading to a much stronger arousal state than any other breed. They have a higher level of endorphins, which makes these dogs able to withstand a much greater amount of pain than other dogs. They have much greater jaw strength than any other breed. They are able to lock on to the animal they attack and they will not let go until that piece is torn out. They have a false body signal. Any other dog, you can recognize when they’re showing friendship or when they’re showing an attack. You can tell what the dog is thinking, more or less, by the appearance of the dog. With a pit bull, you can’t. They have false body signals and they even show pleasure on attack by wagging their tails rather than showing anger."
"The breeds that would be allowed are the Staffordshire bull terrier, for instance, the one that Don Cherry has, and the American Staffordshire terrier registered with the CKC. The breeds not allowed would be the pit bull terrier and the American bull terrier or pit bull."
Author’s note: Don Cherry did not own a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. He owned a Bull Terrier (sometimes known as an English Bull Terrier), a completely separate breed.
Constable Randy Peacock was a six-year member of the Waterloo Police and a member of their Emergency Response Team (SWAT).
Here is what Constable Peacock said at that same meeting:
Author’s note: A "pit bull" was chased by police over a 20 km, ultimately being hit by several vehicles and fired at 15 times.
"The animal had attacked a dog in a back yard, of which the pictures have been circulated, 15 shots were fired in the direction of the animal. I personally fired nine shots at the animal. Believing that I’m a reasonably good shot, I hit it all nine times. We shot at the head of the animal in the hope of destroying it. However, due to the breeding of the animal and the shape of the head, there’s a tendency that the ammunition we’re using in our service pistols doesn’t penetrate the skull, and we have a concern that we then have to go to the chest portion of the animal to destroy it, the problem being, when the animal is coming at you, you have nothing but the head as a target, to be quite honest with you, and that tends to be a problem with that."
Here is what Dr. Hess said at the January 21 Kitchener committee meeting:
"The Humane Society is interested in controlling the breed because the Pit Bull is an attack dog."
"Most other dogs bite and then back off; however, Pit Bulls bite and then tear out a piece of flesh and bite again. This combined with their strength and tenacity causes them to be more dangerous biters."
"The severity of bites inflicted by Pit Bulls is greater than most other dogs as the Pit Bull has 10 times the jaw strength of a Rottweiler, and in addition will not back up once it bites but will continue to attack until the other animal is dead. He also pointed out that the jaw has a unique mechanism that allows it to lock on it’s victim."
And that is how Kitchener-Waterloo came to pass the first breed-specific legislation in Ontario.
These people fed a bunch of unsubstantiated garbage to the committee members of both the Ontario Legislature and the Kitchener-Waterloo city council(s). All of these statements have been scientifically disproven, yet were accepted without question because "authorities" were making them.
The primary offenders in this travesty were:
Dr. Gerhard Hess (now deceased, I believe)
Constable Randy Peacock
City councillor Jake Smola
City councillor Berry Vrbanovic
Author’s note: Just in case this disappears from the Ontario Legislature website when and if they do another revamp of their site, there’s a copy at: