Montreal

Pit bull owner and trainer says breed-specific ban not the answer

Calls have been mounting for municipal bans and even a Quebec-wide ban on pit bulls after the mauling death of Montrealer Christiane Vadnais by what police say was a pit bull in her backyard last week.

John Truss owns five pit bulls, which he calls as 'good family pets as any dog'

John Truss's son, J.J., with Gracie, one his family's five purebred American pit bull terriers. (John Truss)

John Truss says he got his first pit bull when he was 20-years-old because he thought it would be "cool."

"I was a young guy. You want a bit of an image like that," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Wednesday.

The father of a 17-month-old child now has five purebred pit bulls and operates a dog training service. 

He's come a long way since then and acknowledges that cool image is what motivates many "problem owners" of pit bulls, and he says such owners need to be subjected to stricter laws.

However, Truss says banning the dogs is not the answer.

Calls have been mounting for municipal bans and even a Quebec-wide prohibition on pit bulls after the mauling death of Montrealer Christiane Vadnais by what police say was a pit bull in her backyard last week.

Advocates of a Quebec ban point to Ontario, which enacted a province-wide ban on pit bulls in 2005.

A number of Quebec municipalities have already introduced bans on pit bulls and related breeds.

On Tuesday, the City of Brossard introduced a motion to ban the dogs in response to an attack on young girl in a local park last year.

John Truss's son, J.J., with Olive, one of his family's five purebred American pit bull terriers. (John Truss)

While acknowledging that there is a problem with dangerous dogs, Truss sees bigger problems with bans.

"How do we determine if it's a pit bull," he asked.

"Pit bull mixes covers a huge part of the dog population."

The right approach, he believes, is strict regulations, licensing and fines.

"Owners need to be held responsible. There should be stricter fines, a lot of enforcement," he said.

Pit bulls are "extremely human-friendly," dog trainer says

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Dog trainer and pit bull owner John Truss says John Truss has five pit bulls and says his dogs are like family. 0:55

'Good family pets as any dog'

His early view of the pit bull as a status symbol quickly evolved into a deep respect for the dogs.

"Once I realized what incredible dogs they are, I started training them, taking them in public, making sure they're normal. I realized they're just dogs," he said.

"They're just as a capable of being good family pets as any dog," he said.

He never leaves his child alone with the dogs, but that's more on principle — not because they're pit bulls, he said.

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