The growing backlash against the now-suspended Montreal legislation banning pit bulls has landed in Ontario and now Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo hopes a new bill will reverse an 11-year-old decision that banned pit bulls in the province.
DiNovo met with dog owners who support an end to the ban at Queen's Park on Saturday.
"Other jurisdictions around the world have repealed their breed-specific legislation because it doesn't work," DiNovo said.
In Ontario specifically, DiNovo says, in the past 11 years, the ban hasn't made a difference in dog bites.
"They fluctuate as they always did," she said. "In fact, fatal bites are up."
What does work, she said, is a model used in Alberta where instead of banning pit bulls, the province educates and has strict enforcement against bad dog owners.
"Alberta, by the way, is rescuing dogs from Montreal because they know that it's not the breed [that's the problem]. They proved it."
The ambiguous law also doesn't make it clear what qualifies as a pit bull, she says, and complicating matters further is that there re few pure breeds of pit bulls. DiNovo adds, as a result, many dogs have been affected and have been taken away from families.
"For these 11 years, wonderful family pets have been killed because of this law," she said. "It's cruel. It doesn't work."
Support for existing law
While DiNovo has strong opposition to the law, other politicians have said in the past that they felt Ontario's pit bull ban, 2005's Dog Owners' Liability Act, has been effective.
Brendan Crawley, spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General, told CBC News that there are fewer pit bulls in Ontario "and, consequently, fewer opportunities for a vicious attack by a pit bull."
"We heard very clearly from Ontarians that they wanted to be protected from pit bull attacks," he said.
Kitchener, Ont., has banned pit bulls since the late nineties after a series of attacks made the city take action.
"In terms of the pit bull attacks, they've gone down significantly," Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic told The Current.
He added the issue is one "every community needs to determine for themselves based on their experiences." Kitchener also has a dangerous dog bylaw in place for dogs that bite regularly with a committee that puts specific conditions on them.
But DiNovo says it's not just one breed that can be dangerous — all big dogs can do the same sort of damage as pit bulls.
"There's no difference between a bite from a pit bull and a bite from a German shepherd or a Rottweiler or a Doberman or my dog," she explained. "It's about time that we put the emphasis on bad owners. Because bad owners, once one breed is banned, they'll just move on to another breed to use as a weapon."