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Dog Owner Harassment! - Globe and Mail

November 6th, 2004, 12:06 PM
Man bites dog-owner
Disputes about pit bulls are turning city parks into battlegrounds

Saturday, November 6, 2004 - Page M1

Not long ago, Darlene Reid looked forward to walking her dogs through the streets of Toronto as a peaceful interlude from big-city life. Now, she considers it an ordeal.

In the past two weeks alone, she has had shouting matches, nasty looks and one physical battle. In the interests of safety, she no longer allows her 13-year-old daughter to walk the dogs.

"The whole situation sucks," says Ms. Reid, the owner of three Staffordshire terriers. "It can't go on like this."

Like many other Toronto dog owners, Ms. Reid has found a dramatically changed environment since the province announced that it would pass a law banning pit bulls and related breeds. Her dogs, which would be affected by the proposed law, have become a red flag.

"It's brought the dog-haters out of the woodwork," she says.

Two weeks ago, she was confronted in Riverdale Park by two young men who told her she had no right to be out in public with her "killer dogs." When she tried to reason with them, things went downhill.

One of the men kicked one of her dogs. When she tried to stop him, he knocked her to the ground. As this went on, her dogs looked on from the sidelines, according to Ms. Reid -- "so much for the killer dogs," she says.

"I don't feel safe in my own city now," says Ms. Reid, who suffered minor injuries in the attack. "People seem to think they can do or say whatever they want because you've got a dog."

Ms. Reid is not the only dog owner who has faced hostility since the breed ban was proposed. The announcement has clearly heightened the social tensions that surround urban dog ownership.

Although there are no official numbers (Toronto Police don't keep statistics on minor assaults and confrontations), officials with the Toronto Humane Society say there have been numerous disputes.

"Dog owners just can't deal with what's happening," says Romeo Bernadino, managing director of animal care services at the THS. "It's not a good situation."

M.T. Kelly, a Toronto writer who owns a pit bull named Maggie, says the past three weeks have been marked by outright intolerance: "When we go into a park now, it's like we're wearing the Scarlet Letter," he says.

Susan Coutts, who lives near North Bay, says the tension surrounding dogs isn't confined to the big city -- or to owners of pit bulls. Last week, she and a friend got a tongue lashing from a woman outside a shopping mall where they were with their dogs -- a black Labrador and a German shepherd.

"She told us that it was illegal for us to have them in public without muzzles," says Ms. Coutts, whose dogs often visit seniors homes as part of a community outreach program. "It was ridiculous."

Ms. Coutts feels that a handful of highly publicized attacks have driven the political process, and that the proposed ban will do nothing to protect the public. "I feel like every person in Ontario who has a dog is being made to pay for the mistakes of a few irresponsible dog owners."

Casey Conklin, a member of the Withrow Park Dog Owners' Association, says the ban on pit bull breeds has affected virtually all breeds, and has divided Toronto into two camps: those who like dogs and those who don't.

"I used to get just about zero reaction," she says. "Now, I see both extremes. Some people go out of their way to pat my dogs. And some people yell at you -- 'get your goddamn dogs out of here.' "

Ms. Conklin has three dogs. None of them are pit bulls (two are retrievers, the other is a Lakeland terrier).

Last week in Withrow Park, she found herself in an ugly confrontation with a man who told her she had no right to bring her dogs out in public. Although she tried to remain composed, the man's continued intransigence wore her down, and the exchange ended in a full-on screaming match.

"I'm from New Jersey," she says. "At some point, Jersey girl kicks in."

"This seems to have given carte blanche to people who hate dogs," Ms. Conklin says of the breed ban. "It validates their intolerance. They feel like they have a right to express ignorant views."

Ms. Conklin sees the pit-bull ban as pure demagoguery, and accuses Ontario Attorney-General Michael Bryant of playing to people's irrational fears. Mr. Bryant has referred to pit bulls as "ticking time bombs" and "inherently dangerous animals."

"Every time he has a press conference, he has a pit bull that's attacked someone," Ms. Conklin says. "He's created the impression that if you have a pit bull, you have no regard for other people. He makes it seem like you're walking around with a loaded gun."

Teresa Rickerby, a Coburg pet shop owner who belongs to an advocacy group called People for Pit Bulls, says the politics surrounding the breed ban have made it impossible to hold a meaningful debate about the issues.

"No one discusses the facts," she says. "It's all driven by emotion and fear."

Ms. Reid says the attack in Riverdale Park was just one part in a much larger picture. Since the ban was announced, she has been subjected to nasty looks, lectures and profanity-laced tirades.

"People come up and yell at you," she says. "They tell you that you've got no right to be out in public with a dog. They say, 'Get your killers off the street.' "

In one instance, one of her dogs was kicked while he was tethered to a lamppost outside a restaurant on Danforth Avenue.

"There's harassment that has been going on for a long time," she says. "But now it's way worse. You never saw anything like that before. No one kicked my dogs until now. What we're seeing here is prejudice. . . . We're being treated like criminals and we haven't done anything wrong."

For Deoin Greaves, a 26-year-old Toronto man, the hostility he has encountered with his pit bull Red since the breed ban was announced has been too much. On Wednesday, he took his dog to the Humane Society for adoption.

"I didn't want to give him up," he says. "But I can't stand it any more."

I think this is a very important point that needs to be brought up in parliament..and I'm going to send this to a few of the politicians..I suggest you guys do the same..and feel free to pass this info on to other forums. This is terrible!

heeler's rock!
November 6th, 2004, 12:14 PM
That is sooooo sad!!!! I hope Michael Bryant is happy now!! His whole idea of BSL has turned people against eachother!! What a jerk!!!! Now innocent people and innocent dogs are being physically assulted, and it's all Micheal Bryant's fault. Someone needs to get this a$$ wipe out of office! :mad: :mad: :mad:

November 6th, 2004, 01:23 PM
This is nothing more than mob mentality. Ever since I became aware of this issue, I try to go out of my way to talk to owners with these breeds of dogs that I have encountered. Before, I would have just smiled in passing, but I now take the time to ask if I can pet their dog and let them know I like having them there.

November 6th, 2004, 09:28 PM
Against the Gov., & against M.B.. I hope they get together, including Anybody else who has had problems & take it to court.

Lucky Rescue
November 7th, 2004, 12:06 PM
Last week, she and a friend got a tongue lashing from a woman outside a shopping mall where they were with their dogs -- a black Labrador and a German shepherd.

Mass insanity in Ontario? And this vicious lynch-mob mentality is being encouraged and condoned by the government.

So now dog owners who have said "BSL doesn't concern ME!" are finding that it DOES (which is what we have been saying all along), and will maybe understand what we have endured and try and fight this sick witchhunt as well.:(

November 7th, 2004, 01:43 PM
one big ..I. to our govenment. I give them the one finger salute. Perhaps they should concentrated on the 100 million dollars they stole, youth offenders and bring back the death penality for murders, rapists and kiddy molesters. they are just asking for some moron with the IQ of 2 to attack and kill a large breed dog owner. It's a sad day for Canadian dog owners when you can't go out in public without being harrassed. :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

November 8th, 2004, 07:41 AM
I agree with passing this on. I hope the sad irony that this woman's ticking time bomb didn't go off doesn't get lost on anyone. This is insane!

November 8th, 2004, 08:00 AM
I recieved this in an email from Advocates for the Underdog. I was appauled. I didn't think that I was the only one that was having negative comments and such but actual physical assault on a lady because of the breed to her dog. This is ludicris!! How embarassing!! I am disgusted by what this idiotic uneducated man done; turning our province into an abusive and horrible bunch of fools.
I wish that a member of the oppositin brings this up in the house. This is completed uncalled for. It's turned into profiling of the owners because of the breed to dog they chose to have. People are "allowed" to say such hurtful and rude things and kick other peoples dogs.... :mad: I tell you, I promise that if someone kicks my dog I will be logging on here (if I'm allowed) from prision. I don't care if I get charged with assault or whatever, that person would NOT get away with kicking my dog. See what this legislation is doing to us.... :sad: Michael Bryant caused all of this.

November 8th, 2004, 08:44 AM
Looks like it might be time to start carrying the camera when we walk our dogs, so we can get pictures of the offenders. And evidence for when the police want to know why I just beat some moron within an inch of his life...

November 8th, 2004, 09:01 AM
Once, when I went to Withrow, there was a couple there with thier dog and I could tell from the fear and loathing in her face she was gonna start something. She said Duke nipped her hand. She was standing in between Duke and her dog while they were initiating play. I just looked at her. You could tell she wanted us to take Duke and leave. We didn't. A playfull boxer came along and the two of them played and played. The couple took thier dog and sat up on the hill. More dogs came and Duke ran and played until he was exausted and went and layed down at my partners feet. The couple eventually ventured back down the hill into the area. We stood our ground and unfortunately things aren't going to get any easier. There are six new pitbulls up for adoption at the Humane this morning.

November 8th, 2004, 09:26 AM
The crap that spouts out of ignorant peoples mouths just never ceases to amaze me. On Sunday I was taking Buddy to High Park and this ignorant guy with 2 of his pals comes up and stands about 10feet in front of me and starts with Lady that is the biggest f**** Pit Bull I have ever seen why do you need one of those killers. While I held my tongue and just said in front of his friends well first of all if you had a half a brain you might know what a pit bull looks like this if you can comprehend my words and I will speak slowly so you don't miss anything is an English Mastiff. So maybe you should start by apologize for swearing at me and for your obvious lack of a brain and education now run home to your trailer park and read a book instead of comics. His friends started laughing at him and I just barrelled right in between them with Buddy they moved quickly to the side and let me pass. But my heart goes out to owners of pit and staffs I have seen the harrassment they are dealing with and should not have to. They were passing a petition through High Park yesterday, I think almost everybody signed it and it did get a conversation going and I would say 90% are vehemently against it. I would say that the roughly 10% were small dog owners and felt there dogs were at risk around these dogs. The funny thing is one of the small dog owners dog was playing with a 3.5 month old pit bull when we told her she was amazed and stood up and walked over and signed the petition and came back laughing about how silly she was. She said it is the media hype that made her think that way and said if I was affected as a dog owner I can see how they can lead non dog owner to there way of thinking.

November 8th, 2004, 09:57 AM
There is a Mastiff in my area and me and Duke have run into her twice on a walk. The first time Duke was about 3 months old. I think the Mastiff, Charlie, was just under a year old. We were on a cul de sac, not much traffic so we let them off lead. Well that dog was soooo gentle with Duke, she laid down and opened her mouth and Dukie kept sticking his head in. We ran into them at the school yard about a week ago. Dukes nine months now and a little bigger and roudier. He does the I wanna play sort of mouthing at her jowls thing. Well, she lays down and ever so gently holding Dukies snout in her mouth, pulls him down with her and voila, he is in love. Hes fixed but if he coulda he woulda.

November 8th, 2004, 10:12 AM
I try to remember where people are coming from who don't know. Mastiff, your example is perfect. I, too, had a lot of prejudices. Then we got Daisy. I've always believed it is mostly the owner, but I didn't realise how great of a dog the breed was. This helps me to control my anger when I'm confronted, and I usually explain to them thier misinformation.

Unless they are ignorant, like the stories here. Then I tell them to bite me and get a life. Usually I tell them to also get a clue, and maybe that they are an idiot. My wife says I have "issues"...I can't handle people who are ignorant.

November 8th, 2004, 10:55 AM
As most of you know I have an all white English Bulldog puppy (almost 9mnths) When we were in Ottawa, we actually had ppl cross the room to avoid the "pitbull"!! He was being carried over my shoulder like a baby, and was shakeing (scared because the strikers were blowing whistles and yelling and clapping) I just couldn't believe someone was scared of the little sucky boy, who was too nervous to even walk by himself :D
Also, the pizza delivery guy said "What a cute Pitbull".
However, it did make me aware that if this law passes, those with unregistered/rescued with no papers etc... Bulldogs, (and other dogs with similar physical characteristics to APBT) could find themselves in the same situation as PBT owners. It just reinforces my belief that this is not a Pitbull owner's problem, it is a dog owners/lovers problem. And anyone with a dog should have a vested interest in stopping MB.

November 8th, 2004, 11:13 AM
It's really difficult for me to discribe how I feel about this situation anymore. I feel so let down by my fellow citizens. I am constantly worrying about what someone might/could do to us and our dog.

Would someone try and feed her poisonous treats? (we no longer let her have treats from people we don't know)

Would people take advantage of the impending law to cause us grief and get us evicted from our building?

Will people continue emotionally abusing us or begin physically as we have heard about?

Would people use this glorification of these "brutal beasts" to their advantage to instigate a confrontation with our dog in hopes of prevoking a bite to sue?

These are all thoughts that run through my head daily now. :sad: Even while we're sitting and cuddling on the counch and Briggs has her head on my shoulder. I am constantly wondering what I can do better to ensure her safety. :sad:

She is no loger allowed out of our sight. When vacation comes at the end of the month Briggs will be staying with her vet because I can't trust that a boarding kennel will not abuse or neglect her. :sad:

I say, I hope to heck that Michael Bryant gets what he deserves. I pray for vengance (of some kind) for the hurt and pain that he has caused perfectly normal and loving citizens because of his hurtful and horrible untruths. This man is the devil and I hope he pays for the pain that he has caused fellow dog owners throughout the province of ontario.

November 8th, 2004, 12:09 PM
This story and your personal stories just show how uneducated and ignorant society is today. :mad: They judge something they know nothing about and everybody thinks they know everything! It's all a matter of their personal opinions so automatically they know it all and are correct!! They'll find out differently IF the ban comes into effect. Then we'll see what the next breed is that will be banned. :mad: :mad:

I too worry about the safety of my dog.

November 8th, 2004, 02:06 PM is compiling details of incidents of harrassment.

You can submit here

I think it is important to document what is going on.

November 8th, 2004, 02:27 PM
That's very interesting Dukie, sad, but very interesting!!

I wonder what go that will do us, I sure hope that someone in the assembly will read those accounts. :sad:

It's items like this that really bring the ignorant people out eh? It's like they think the have the right to verbally and sometime physically assault people because of their breed of dog. It's too sick for words. Those people should be so ashamed. I don't know how they sleep at night! :mad:

November 8th, 2004, 04:59 PM is compiling details of incidents of harrassment.

You can submit here

I think it is important to document what is going on.

I had to stop reading that. I can't believe people are that ignorant! I can't believe how angry it was making me read that! I'm feeling my blood boil, and my back get up just thinking about it!! (Tomorrow is going to be a good gym day!)