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Article about Legal Challenge:

August 23rd, 2005, 05:27 PM

Legal challenge launched vs. pit bull ban

Shannon Montgomery
Canadian Press

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


TORONTO -- Irate dog breeders in Canada's most populous province are mounting a legal challenge to Ontario's controversial plan pit bull ban on the grounds that the law, which takes effect Monday, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The plaintiffs and their supporters, which include the American Staffordshire Club of Canada, argue that the provincial law is so vague and unscientific that it's bound to capture many animals that defenders say shouldn't be banned.

Critics of the law are turning to the courts because they're fed up with the province ignoring their concerns, said club president and founder Cathy Prothro.

"We've been ostracized for owning our breed of choice, we've been persecuted for owning our breed of choice, and I think people are tired of it," Prothro said in an interview.

"Dog people just aren't going to sit down and take it anymore."

The legislation has fanned the flames of an already heated debate across Canada about the dangers of pit bulls as passionate and faithful owners square off against neighbours and critics who consider the breed nothing short of a dangerous weapon.

As of Monday, it will be illegal for a pit bull to be imported into Ontario, although existing owners, who are allowed to keep their dogs on a restricted basis provided they're sterilized and muzzled and leashed in public, will have 60 days to comply with the new law.

Puppies that are born in Ontario before Nov. 27 will also be allowed to stay on a restricted basis, but dogs born after that date must be shipped out of the province, sent to a research facility or euthanized.

Under the new regulations, four breeds are defined as pit bulls: pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and American pit bull terriers. The legislation also bans dogs with physical characteristics that are "substantially similar to those dogs."

"We feel it's unconstitutional; it targets responsible dog owners and it's not targeting the real problem, which is irresponsible dog owners," said Prothro, who has helped raise $100,000 towards a legal bill that's expected to come in at about $250,000.

"Their definition of a pit bull ...could be just about anything that's short-haired and muscular."

Breese Davies, a Toronto lawyer who is working on the suit with high-profile lawyer Clayton Ruby, refused to reveal the individual named in the challenge until Monday's scheduled news conference.

But she said there are five groups -- three breed clubs, the Dog Legislation Council of Canada and another group called Advocates for the Underdog -- which have formed a coalition of supporters, dubbed Banned Aid, to help with the cause.

Pit bulls are already banned in several cities across Canada, including Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., Windsor, Ont., and Winnipeg, but the constitutional challenge marks the first time one of the bans has been tested in court.

Brendan Crawley, spokesman for the province's Ministry of the Attorney General, said the government won't comment on the challenge until it is officially filed, although he noted that the ministry reviews all draft legislation to ensure that it is constitutional.

Many similar challenges have been brought in the United States, and most have failed, although one or two have been successful, Davies acknowledged. But the laws in the two countries are so different it's not a fair comparison, she added.

Davies said the law is vague, overbroad and places the onus on the dog owner to prove they haven't done anything wrong, which she said constitutes a violation of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 7 is intended to protect an individual's autonomy and personal legal rights from the actions of the government.

"If an individual can go to jail as a result of the legislation, which you can under the new provisions of the act, the law on which you are going to be denied your liberty can't be vague or overbroad," Davies explained.

"It's going to capture dogs that are perfectly safe, that pose no harm to anybody, whose owners are perfectly responsible, who are sound, safe, happy dogs that will not pose a risk to the community."
© Canadian Press 2005

August 23rd, 2005, 05:34 PM
:fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr
Where's the prayer smilie?? I'll be praying for this battle!

August 23rd, 2005, 10:47 PM
:fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr :fingerscr

I am crossing my fingers and toes on this one.

I think that this one might have to go to a higher court. It needs to be brought to the attention of all dog owners in Canada, this does not just affect Ontario.

August 24th, 2005, 07:20 AM
Has anybody told Bryant that he can’t lie in a courtroom? Time for real numbers and facts Mr. Bryant.

BTW: Come out on Sunday and show support.

There are two Candlelight Vigils being held on Sunday, August 28, 2005.
One will be held at Queen's Park in Toronto at 8:00pm and the other at
the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa at 8:00pm. Candles will be available at both locations.

August 24th, 2005, 05:06 PM
I went Muzzle shopping today :sad:.... I'll be at the Queens Park Candle Light Vigil FOR SURE! and if I can get into that court room Ill be there too, infact Ill even be sitting on the stairs of the court house if theres no room for me inside!!!!!! At least the announcement of the name of the person who willl be the test case will be something to look forward to on August 29th. Im trying to look at it as the beginining of the end of the "pit bull ban" And the nightmare that is Michael Bryant! Thanks for the post Loki!

August 24th, 2005, 05:53 PM
No prob Babyrocky.

I'll be at Queen's Park also.
Hopefully there will be a good turn-out.

August 25th, 2005, 07:23 AM
Davies said the law is vague, overbroad and places the onus on the dog owner to prove they haven't done anything wrong, which she said constitutes a violation of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 7 is intended to protect an individual's autonomy and personal legal rights from the actions of the government.

"If an individual can go to jail as a result of the legislation, which you can under the new provisions of the act, the law on which you are going to be denied your liberty can't be vague or overbroad," Davies explained.

I know for a fact that this was NOT considered.

After an editorial I wrote was published a Liberal contacted the local paper asking to be put in touch with me. The editor forwarded the request and I contacted him.

I thought the discussion would end when I said ‘I don’t have an autistic child I have a large breed dog’. I went on to explain that when the appeal is launched and won it would of course be appealed by Michael Bryant (who had just appealed a finding that his government’s policy on autistic kids was discriminatory). I explained that in order to achieve the desired results we had to reduce the number of Liberal seats in the next election – that is why I write editorials that have nothing to do with dogs.

I asked if I should muzzle my dog simply because occasionally I was asked if he was part pit. I referred to Mr. Bryant’s comments of ‘if you have a pit bull you know you have a pit bull’ and asked that if some non-dog person asks if your dog is part pit does that constitute ‘knowing’. We both agreed it didn’t.

He also mentioned that no one will enforce it. Humane Societies had already stated that. I referred to Kitchener Waterloo as proof that they will. If it’s enforce the law or lose you funding the choice was pretty clear.

I stated that in Kitchener Waterloo you could at least have your dog evaluated to know what your responsibilities are. You had a clear and concise decision that would allow you to know what you had to do to be a law abiding citizen (let's not go off on this one staement - my point is simply that you will get a yes or a no - more than you will get in the rest of the province). When they presented at the hearings the KW Humane Society and city recommended giving the people a chance to register their dogs. Ignored by the Liberals.

The effect of this is for mixed breed owners is that you could be told you are OK in Welland, Same for Niagara Falls. No in ST. Catharines and if you take a day trip to some other municipality you could find yourself breaking the law. Provincial laws should allow you to know how you stand across the whole province. This has reduced the freedom to travel (charter?)

If you don’t believe you have a pit bull but some body somewhere decides that you do you could do jail time. His response was ‘I’ve never even thought of that. That’s interesting’. I suggested that with over 70 Liberals voting in support of the Bill that one of them should of thought of that.

A new law comes into effect in September regarding booster seats for kids in cars. It is clear. If the child is under a certain weight – you need a booster. It isn’t if the child has the appearance of XXXX or characteristics of XXXX. Clear. Ontario Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar may of been accussed of breaking ethical boundaries as an MPP but he at least made his law clear enough that you know if you are breaking it.

If the law isn’t clear enough and allows people to break the law without knowing it the law is badly written. Any student that was taught by Mr. Bryant should ask for a refund of tuition as he has clearly demonstrated that he is incompetent as a lawmaker. Dog issues may not be the downfall of this law but rather the fact that the law is so badly written.

August 25th, 2005, 09:50 AM
Clap clap clap.

Seriously twodogs that was an awesome post!

And good for you.

I want to see after August 29th how many pit bulls are truly in this promise.
Then we can send them to the liberals and say hey you can expect almost all if not all of these people not to vote you back in to office.

August 25th, 2005, 09:52 AM
I have a dinner that night for the vigil but I think Im gonna tell them too bad I need to leave early.

I will be there! Who is bringing there dogs?

August 25th, 2005, 02:03 PM
I'll be there but no dogs and no cat.

August 25th, 2005, 02:23 PM
I'm planning on going, Luvmypit!! I am going to try and meet up with babyrocky. I'll be leaving early with a full tank of gas and expectations of getting totally lost!! :eek:

Oh hey look at the new smilie!! :troll: LOL

Me and Kayla
August 25th, 2005, 02:54 PM
I'll be there, fellow pittie people! Not sure if Kayla will be with me though. She goes a little crazy when she sees a flashlight...not sure how the candles will sit with her. :)

Kayla and Me

August 25th, 2005, 03:49 PM
Im leaving pone home. He doesn't mind big crowds but I thinks its better.

See you all there!!

August 25th, 2005, 04:40 PM
Maybe we should pick a place near Queens Park and all meet up early. Im not bringing Rocky just because Hes never been in a huge crowd of dogs before. Probably not a good time to start now.

August 25th, 2005, 04:46 PM
Me and Kayla, at least we know who each other are but it might be hard to find one another whos good at organizing people? Someone think of a plan :)

August 25th, 2005, 04:55 PM
Im glad to hear that your editorial was published Two Dogs. and that it got some Fiberals attention. The more the other Fibs start to understand that we DO hold them accountable for supporting MB the more we can count on internal troubles for MB and thats one important componant to all this! Thre were a handful of Fibs that I used to have respect for Gerrard Kennedy, Alvin Curling, Sandra P. Kathleen Wynn, but now I cant even listen to anything they have to say because they did this. OH and Michael Cole, I used to like him because of his proposed legislation against puppy mills. I really thought that he would vote against the bill, but nope, apparantly his dedication to animal issues doesnt hold up to his desire for a cabinet appointment! Yeah I mentioned that yesterday but IM still fuming!