Ontario pit bull ban complicates P.E.I. family's drive from Fort McMurray

A pit bull owner from P.E.I. hit a snag at the Ontario border she didn't expect to encounter while driving back from Fort McMurray this past week.

Family is staying in Brandon, Man. until alternative travel plans can be made for their dog, Lucy

Seven-year-old Lucy was rescued by Tera Joseph in Fort McMurray. On their drive back to the Island, Ontario's ban on the breed has complicated their travel plans. (Submitted by Tera Joseph)

A family from P.E.I. hit a snag they didn't expect at the Ontario border while driving back from Fort McMurray this past week. 

Tera Joseph and her family weren`t able to keep travelling back to the Island with their 7-year-old dog named Lucy because of Ontario's ban on pit bulls.

"It's stressful," Joseph said. "There's been enough stress in the last few weeks with the fires in Fort McMurray, so this is definitely making us feel like there's no end."

Joseph and her family — fiancée Brad and 3-year old son Coby — were staying at a hotel in Brandon, Man. Thursday, as they figured out what to do.

"She's a very kind, well mannered dog," said Joseph. "I rescued her from the Fort McMurray SPCA."

No easy option

Traveling through the U.S. is not an option.  The family has no passports.

Joseph received hundreds of comments and suggestions after she posted about the family`s problem on social media.
She is now in contact with an airline that could fly the pit bull to Halifax, but only on flights that don't touch down in Toronto.

Tera Joseph says she's been in touch with an airline that can bring Lucy back to the Island, but they must wait until a direct flight becomes available. (Submitted by Tera Joseph)

Joseph is currently working out the details.

Officials from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General confirmed the province-wide pit bull ban. They note enforcement is up to local municipalities. 

The ban took effect in August 2005, according to the ministry's website. It says it is "against the law to bring pit bulls into Ontario, even for a short visit." Exceptions, it says, are not made for tourists, people moving to the province or military personnel being transferred. 

'A waiting game now'

Joseph's home in Fort McMurray is still standing.

They are permitted to return after June 2, but have been advised to delay that trip as a precaution because of the couple's young child and a pet.

Joseph says she has plenty of friends and family in P.E.I. to support them in the meantime.

"It's a waiting game now. I can't wait 'til my feet touch P.E.I. ground," said Joseph.  "We won't leave without Lucy."

"She's a very kind, well mannered dog," said Joseph. (Submitted by Tera Joseph)


Brian Higgins


Brian Higgins joined CBC Prince Edward Island in 2002, following work in broadcasting and print journalism in central Canada. He follows law courts and justice issues on P.E.I., among other assignments.