CALGARY, ALBERTA CANADA - "EXCELLENT BYLAWS HAVE NOT SCARED IRRESPONSIBLE PIT BULL OWNERS INTO BECOMING MORE RESPONSIBLE - THE ONLY SENSIBLE NEXT STEP IS TO BAN THESE DOGS"
PIT BULL BAN IS LOGICAL NEXT STEP: By Naomi Lakritz - Calgary Herald
What would Calgarians do for comic relief without city council?
Last week, Coun. Joe Magliocca came up with a system for controlling pit bull attacks in this city. It works like this: Put muzzles on all puppies when they’re out for walks, to prevent attacks on passersby. Train them, certify them, and after they turn a year old, take off the muzzles and put coloured bandanas on them so they’re dressed like traffic lights. Hostile dogs would wear red bandanas, ones that are iffy would wear yellow, and green bandanas mean the dog is friendly.
Just imagine how silly it would be to have teacup Yorkie puppies walking around wearing muzzles as a public safety measure. I don’t even know if they make muzzles that tiny. Regardless, putting a muzzle on any puppy is counterproductive to socializing it to other animals and people during its crucial first year. You’d really be sowing the seeds for a city full of neurotic and unpredictably nasty dogs if you muzzled all puppies whenever they were out.
Research done by Animals 24-7, using data from press reports that were cross-checked to ensure animal control officers, and not just reporters, verified the breed of dog, showed that from September 1982 through December 2014, pit bulls were responsible for 3,397 “attacks doing bodily harm” in Canada and the U.S.
One of those statistics was Steve Constantine of Detroit, who lost two limbs and part of his ear, during an attack last October by a friend’s 12 pit bulls and pit bull mixes.
Pit bulls killed 295 people during the studied period. Basset hounds, on the other hand, killed no one between 1982 and 2014, and only two people were attacked — by the same hound — thus giving the lie to pit bull owners who say their breed is not to blame. Rottweilers were responsible for the next highest number of attacks after pit bulls — killing 85 people and attacking a total of 535.
We keep hearing it’s the fault of irresponsible pit bull owners. That may be, but there are irresponsible owners of Shih Tzus as well, and their dogs don’t make the news.
Opponents to breed-specific legislation point to Calgary’s model bylaw regarding vicious dogs. Calgary’s bylaw is so highly regarded that it was cited in the Ontario legislature during debates about a pit-bull ban. It is indeed strict. It states that a dog deemed vicious by a provincial judge can only be owned by an individual over 18, and is never allowed in off-leash areas. When the dog is out, “it must wear a muzzle … with a leash no longer than one metre … ”
The dog must be confined indoors, or if outdoors, must be kept in “a locked pen or other structure” which other people can’t enter. The pen must be a minimum 1.5 metres in height and have a “secure top, and if it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded in the ground to a minimum depth of 30 centimetres.”
The owner must post special signs at every entrance to the yard, alerting people that a vicious dog lives there.
OK, so we have this excellent bylaw. Too bad the threat of its penalties doesn’t appear to have deterred the owners of the pit bulls responsible for the recent spate of attacks in Calgary. The annual vicious animal licensing fee is $260. There is a fine of up to $1,500 for a first offence attacking someone, and up to $2,000 if a dog already declared vicious attacks again. Not to mention $1,500 per, for failing to follow each directive for a vicious dog, such as proper confinement, signage, muzzling, etc.
No, the bylaw, with its justifiably draconian provisions, hasn’t scared irresponsible pit bull owners into becoming more responsible. The only sensible next step is to ban these dogs, which were bred to be aggressive. Who needs them? Had Steve Constantine been swarmed instead by basset hounds, he would be healthy and whole today.