Friday, November 20, 2009

NDP MPP wants Ontario pit bull ban overturned


Updated: Wed Nov. 18 2009 3:38:31 PM

ctvtoronto.ca

An NDP MPP has introduced a private member's bill that seeks to repeal the provincial ban on pit bulls.

Cheri DiNovo had some pit bull owners show up at Queen's Park with their muzzled dogs on Wednesday to show support for her effort.

"It's the deed, not the breed," DiNovo told reporters.

Lawyer Clayton Ruby, who has argued unsuccessfully in court against the law, added: "The craziness is in thinking how you can judge a dog's dangerousness by how he looks."

Premier Dalton McGuinty disagreed, saying, "It's about public safety. We got the best advice we could, and put in place legislation which we think upholds public safety. "

In a news release issued Tuesday, DiNovo said: "In the four years since the legislation passed, fatal dog attacks have gone up in Ontario although they're still extremely rare.

"In none of the reported cases have there been attacks involving pit bulls," she added.

DiNovo didn't give specific numbers.

Breed-specific legislation has been repealed in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden, she said.

In an October 2008 decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the province's Dog Owners' Liability Act, passed in 2005, that banned the breeding, sale and ownership of pit bulls.

"The total ban on pit bulls is not `arbitrary' or `grossly disproportionate' in light of the evidence that pit bulls have a tendency to be unpredictable and that even apparently docile pit bulls may attack without warning or provocation," the judges said in their decision.

"This evidence of unpredictability provided the legislature with a sufficient basis to conclude that the protection of public safety required no less drastic measures than a total ban on pit bulls."

Ruby wanted to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, but the court refused to hear the case.

With the Liberals holding the majority of seats in Ontario's legislature, DiNovo's bill is unlikely to pass.