June 14, 2009

Oh, Canada: the good, the bad and the ugly

First, the ugly. Canada's Supreme Court will not hear a bid to overturn the province of Ontario's ban on "pit bulls."

TheStar.com reports — badly:
Louise Ellis will never forget the horror and helplessness she felt when she saw her 5-year-old daughter being attacked by a pit bull.

But now she's breathing a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court yesterday said it will not hear a bid to overturn Ontario's ban on pit bulls.

"I'm so pleased with the ban," said Ellis, who still remembers the 1994 attack vividly. "The pit bull took the flesh off from underneath the eye, across her cheek and just down the nose, the bottom of the nose."

Ellis said her now 20-year-old daughter shows few signs today of the 300 stitches that repaired her face.

This just in: the number of pit bulls in Toronto has risen since the ban was implemented. Dog bans are quirky that way, which is one reason places like the Netherlands have repealed BSL.

And dog attacks still happen in Ontario. BSL doesn't stop serious dog attacks — it never has. In fact, let me tweak that news article: Korie-Lyn Edwards' grandmother will never forget the horror and helplessness she felt when she saw her 17-month old grandchild mauled to death by the family's own 10-year-old Rottweiler-German shepherd mix.

And now the Ottawa resident is furious that breed bans and the false sense of security they provide will leave other children at risk

This just in, too: there have never been any pit bull-related fatalities in the province of Ontario.

Canadian-Californian dog expert Jean Donaldson explains that breed bans are over-inclusive and under-inclusive: they target great numbers of good dogs that will never harm anyone, and they utterly fail to deal with dangerous dogs of other breeds and types. Breed bans are irrational, in other words. Unjust. Profoundly stupid. Worthless.

Dr. Karen Overall nails it: "[Laws] banning breeds will not make you safer, and the illusion that they will do so is dangerous to humans and unfair to dogs."

Oh, Canada [sigh]. You know better than this. Your citizens deserve so much better than laws demonizing and banning their good dogs.


"Enough with the bad and the ugly, already — where's the good?" you ask. "Where's the good?"

I'm happy to report that the good — City of Calgary Animal & Bylaw Services — is so good it deserves an entire post to itself. Calgary's Animal Services director Bill Bruce gave a series of seminars in California last week, and I went to the nearest one here in SoCal and was impressed to pieces. Stay tuned for more.

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