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Ottawa Sun Article + poll:

August 25th, 2005, 09:31 AM

Thu, August 25, 2005
City in for canine chaos?
Ottawa not ready to enforce provincial pit bull ban, bylaw staffer says


THE pit bull ban might already be going to the dogs.

Days before it rolls out, city hall isn't ready to enforce a controversial new provincial law and veterinarians are staying out of it.

One animal advocate fears innocent dogs will pay the price.

"We're not ready -- no one is fully prepared for this," said Christine Hartig, president of the Association of Animal Shelter Administrators of Ontario and a city bylaw staffer.


City bylaw officers -- like municipal workers across Ontario -- haven't been trained yet to identify banned dogs or on other amendments to the Dog Owners Liability Act, Hartig said.

The Ministry of the Attorney General has refused to offer legal advice or respond to requests to pay for training.

Groups that represent municipal workers are banding together to offer training themselves, but not until late this fall.

Meanwhile, Hartig's association may tell members not to enforce the law until the province supports training.

But she urges pit bull owners to comply with the new law.

They don't have to sterilize, leash and muzzle their dogs for 60 days, but starting Monday their pets face destruction if they bite or menace anyone.

Pit bull owners should also license their dogs at city hall or online to prove they owned it before the ban took effect.

"It's in their own best interest -- and their dog's," Hartig said.

The legislation calls on vets to judge whether a dog is a banned breed or not, but they're refusing to take on the task.

"We've instructed our members they shouldn't get involved," said Dr. Tim Zaharchuk, past president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.

"There's no definitive way of detecting a breed. I can say that looks like a pit bull but what does that mean? There's no genetic basis."

Vets are already having dog owners ask that the breed be changed on their pet's medical records.

Many dogs, such as boxers, look like pit bulls but aren't.

"The definition is so flimsy and vague you could qualify half the dogs I see," Zaharchuk said.

Pit bulls seized from their owners will be housed at the local humane society shelter, under contract to the city.

Six in 100 dogs at the shelter are pit bulls or pit bull mixes.

The good news for them is that the ban allows pit bulls to be adopted by new owners, outreach manager Sharon Miko said.

The society already does rigorous checks on adopters of pit bulls -- German shepherds, Akitas, Rottweilers and Chows as well -- and makes sure they're enrolled in obedience training.


"We have been assured we won't be put in the position of euthanizing a healthy and adoptable animal," Miko said.

But she worries that enforcement of the breed ban will be difficult and contentious and animals will be warehoused for months during legal wrangles.

"We are going to see a lot of animals who are unfortunately caught up in court cases who will be confined," she said. "It's not good for the animals. Ultimately, it's an issue of the humane treatment of animals."

Thu, August 25, 2005
Owners barking mad at ban on pit bulls


Squibs Mercier, 81, and her Staffordshire Terriers, puppy Regina Victoria, left, and Duchess,13, sit at their Ottawa home. The province’s tough new pit bull law takes effect Monday. (Geoff Robins, SUN)

Local pit bull owners aren't rolling over and showing their bellies. They're fighting back.

Squibs Mercier, 81, dubbed the matriarch of Staffordshire bull terrier enthusiasts in Canada, shares her Lincoln Fields home with Duchess, 13, and puppy Regina Victoria.

She'll be at a candlelight vigil against the breed ban Sunday at 8 p.m. at the Human Rights Monument. It's being organized by the National Capital Coalition for People and Dogs.

She's also part of a lawsuit led by Toronto civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby, arguing that the law violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


"I've had Staffordshires all my life. I will never go without them," Mercier vowed. "We are responsible dog owners. We have a right to defend our innocence."

She has an unlikely ally in Susan Echlin.

Echlin's young son, Justin, was attacked by local man Schridev Cafe's trio of pit bull mixes and was just barely rescued by his teenage brother.

But Echlin doesn't think the ban will make kids safer. Instead, she favours mandatory spaying and neutering and lifetime ownership bans for irresponsible and abusive owners.

"Bad dog behaviour is a result of poor ownership," she said. "I think the poor owners will switch to another breed. It smacks of a simplistic solution. You affect only a few dog owners, not the real problem."

August 25th, 2005, 09:43 AM
Wow how the media changed huh? From reporting on victims to now focusing on the poor owners.

Great articles. I hope hope hope that all of these org.'s involved just go ain't doing it.

Wheres Michael now? Wheres the money. He just mad eup this bull and expects the whole world to deal with it. Hes quiet now because of the legal fight. I hope that they examine the process in which this legislation was reached. Because to me it was reached maliciously.
Thanks Loki

August 25th, 2005, 04:16 PM
Great article...Inspiring in fact, thanks Loki!

August 26th, 2005, 08:58 AM
It'd be great if the media would pick up on the fact that Susan Echlin is the mother of the two boys who fought of the "vicious" attack that Bryant kept talking about in the media. I know they mention she's the mom, but I would love to see it announced that this is the same attack that Bryant used as an example of a need for a ban.

August 29th, 2005, 08:18 AM
When Squibs gave me more information on this banning I was infuriated...I mean look at little Vicky, she couldn't hurt a fly, and Dutchess is the world's sweeted Staffy, the worst she could do is lick you to death.

These articles do get some of the word out for sure, what about the text hidden within the legislation that says ANYONE's dog can be removed from their house if someone makes a complaint that the dog growled at them...