'Dogs are dogs': Dozens rally at Queen's Park to demand end to breed specific legislation
Canines kept protesters company as people called for breed-neutral laws
Dozens of dog owners rallied on the Ontario legislative grounds on Saturday to demand that the province remove breed specific language in legislation that bans pit bulls.
Alix Packard, a rally organizer and owner of an American Pit Bull Terrier, said the term "pit bull" is actually not a breed but instead it is an umbrella term that covers any bully breed that has certain physical characteristics.
The true pit bull breeds are American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. An American Bully and an American Bull Dog are not pit bulls, she added.
"Many of the dogs that are targeted are actually mixed breeds of multiple different breeds," she said.
Packard, who works with the Ontario Coalition Against BSL, said a number of groups came together to help educate the public on the issue on Saturday.
"The common goal is to abolish the breed specific language in the legislation and to have breed neutral language with accountability that is held at the forefront so we can actually achieve safer and kinder communities," she said.
Packard said dogs should not be targeted because of their physical characteristics. Behaviour is what matters, she added. Animal control officers have and will misidentify dogs, she said.
"These dogs that are not doing anything should not be targeted because of their breed. They should be targeted solely based on their behaviour," she said. "If their behaviour is exemplary, no matter what their breed is, they should be left alone."
Premier reportedly 'all over this,' dog owner says
Packard said she received a call from Ontario Premier Doug Ford himself this week and he said he is "all over this" and he is committed in "making this right."
She added: "Honestly, I would like people to realize that dogs are dogs. Dogs, more often than not, are a product of their environment. Their breed does not determine what their personality or temperament is going to be like."
Under the Dog Owners' Liability Act, pit bulls are prohibited in Ontario.
The Ontario government prohibited pit bull ownership in 2005, angering many dog lovers who argued the law wrongly punished pets instead of their owners.
With files from The Canadian Press