Opinion: Unless we find a way to ban terrible dog owners, banning pit bulls is necessary risk mitigation

It would be useful to know what level of delusion or recklessness (or both) would lead someone to believe that bringing a recently traumatized dog into a room with children – children who practice sudden, spontaneous taekwondo movements – would end very well. Surely it’s some kind of cognitive superpower? If anyone knows how I could also be blinding myself to disastrous predictable results, please let me know, because I was thinking of having a toast in the tub later and would like to get the water flowing with peace in my heart.

Owner Tommy Chang took his dog – an American pocket bully named Blu – to his taekwondo studio just days after Blu was released by Vaughan Animal Services after spending nearly a month in a shelter. It was in this studio that the dog allegedly attacked 13-year-old Muhammad Almutaz Alzghool, who was bitten in the face and required more than a dozen stitches. The teenager told CBC News his instructor encouraged him to approach Blu in order to overcome his fear of dogs, although Mr Chang’s lawyer disputes that claim and says the child approached the dog alone (which would be a strange thing). for a child who said he was afraid of dogs, but no doubt the lawyers will settle this detail in due course).

Until the incident at Mr. Chang’s studio, Blu’s story held great promise for opponents of Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL): Pit bulls have been banned in Ontario since 2005 under the Act on the liability of dog owners. The family had mounted a fairly successful media campaign after Vaughan Animal Services, which seized Blu after the dog escaped in October, refused to release him until they could investigate whether he was a pit bull.

Mr. Chang started a petition, organized protests and hired local MPs to try to get Blu back. He pointed out that his dog had never been aggressive or violent and argued that legislation that allows authorities to detain dogs solely on the basis of physical appearance is deeply unfair (the law considers a pit- bull is any dog ​​that has “an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar” to the prohibited breeds). dogs that were seized because of their appearance to stay with their families while an investigation takes place. Mr Chang also indicated that after speaking directly with Premier Doug Ford, it appeared the province was ready to repeal breed-specific legislation altogether.

It almost certainly won’t happen now. Opponents of BSL would point out that this story actually bolsters their argument that the problem really is bad dog ownership – a responsible owner would never have taken a dog that had just suffered a traumatic separation to a taekwondo studio with children. But the problem with this argument is that irresponsible dog owners are usually not exposed until something goes horribly wrong. Mr. Chang seemed like the perfect ambassador for the anti-BSL movement – until a teenager in his studio ended up with more than a dozen stitches in his face.

If Blu was a Pomeranian, or a Golden Retriever, or a Great Dane, would he have reacted the same way? It’s impossible to say with certainty. But where bites by breed are tracked, pit bulls tend to be among the most frequent culprits – of the 142 dogs currently listed as “potentially dangerous” by the City of Montreal, for example (meaning they were assessed after being involved in an attack or bite), 33 are Pit Bulls, followed by 26 German Shepherds and 19 Labradors. And according to various researches, pit bull attacks also tend to be more strict; the breed is most often involved in bites requiring transaction and they are most often involved in fatal attacks.

Those who know dogs know that certain breeds have strong traits. That’s why a border collie who lives in a studio apartment in downtown Vancouver – who is afraid of bananas and has never seen a sheep or a chicken in real life – will nevertheless try to round up a group of young children s is let loose in a playground. Responsible pet owners can control and tame unwanted instinctual traits, but there is no test for responsible pet ownership until an individual brings a new dog home.

Ontario’s flawed solution — and also implemented by a handful of countries around the world (including Norway and Denmark) and countless municipalities in the United States and elsewhere — is to try to mitigate the risk of public danger by banning a race implicated in the most violent crimes. attacks. Is it right? Not really. But until we can figure out a way to ban irresponsible dog owners before they decide to bring a distressed dog into a room of children spinning, jumping and kicking air is perhaps the best option available to Ontario.

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