14 West 8th Apt B
Columbus, Ohio 43201
June 27th 2017
Kathleen Wynne, Premier Legislative Building Queen’s Park Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Dear Kathleen Wynne
I am writing this letter to you as an Animal Sciences student to inform you that Ontario’s legislation is targeting and prohibiting pit bull dogs from birth and entry. This act has lasted over 10 years since 2005 it has been an incredibly uninformed decision. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is an incredibly ruthless problem that tattoos negative images and stereotypes with not only pit bulls, but also dogs that look like them. While having a pit bull before 2005 guaranteed immunity from the new rule, bringing in a pit bull or having a pit bull puppy is prohibited. These dogs could be forcibly removed and sent to shelters to be euthanized. Regardless of the incredible range of diversity regarding any single dog’s temperament, your legislation is sending hundreds of innocent dogs to their deaths without hope, without a chance. While I understand that dog bites are a huge problem in Ontario, I’d like to discuss the idea of alternative yet progressive methods to help the problem.
Reflect… Did it work?
I’d like to start by addressing the elephant in the room. Your current legislation to reduce dog bites by prohibiting dog breeds, did not work. In fact, fatal dog bites are on the rise. In this article by the Huffington Post, there were 567 dog bites recorded in the city back in 2004. Ten years after the ban, in 2014, your dog bite numbers are jumped to 767. I’d like to inform you that there was an increase of 200 more dog bites. What your legislation has done, not only has done little to solve the initial problem, but you have had hundreds of innocent dogs euthanized and taken away from their families in the hopes of natural attrition. I implore you to stop the current legislation and invest in a more educated decision.
The Pit Bull “Breed”
In fact, there is no such thing as a pit bull breed. The word “pit bull” is a loose umbrella term that describes dogs that have typical characteristics that resemble a Staffordshire Terrier. A pit bull is statistically not more likely to bite and injure a child than another type of dog. In 2014, the American Veterinary Medical Association states “It is inappropriate to make predictions about a dog’s propensity for aggressive behavior based solely on breed”. According to a study done in Michigan, DNA testing kits allowed shelter workers to figure out what breed each dog was. The study then tested the shelter workers visual ability to identify a dog’s breed by their appearance. The study concludes that shelter workers had a 32% correct ability to visually identify pit bulls in a shelter. This means that one might have a 68% chance of getting an identification wrong, and that is if they are a shelter worker themselves. This again is attributed to the incredibly diverse range of not temperamental, but physical characteristics that a dog can have. With all these lines crossing and breeding, traits become mixed and intermingled. It is impossible to visually identify dogs with a high level of accuracy- so why do it?
Does Visual Identification Work? For Anyone?
Another issue I’d like to discuss is your legislation’s flawed method of identifying breeds of dogs. After doing some research, it was clear that dogs were arbitrarily identified as pit bull dogs by their look. In a study by the National Canine Research Council, attempts to identify a dog breed just by looks is strongly identified with failure. In a world where more and more mixed breeds are being born, how would it be even possible to accurately determine which dog is which breed just by looking at it? I believe a more accurate method is by doing genetic testing, which is much more accurate but also much more expensive.
Is it Cost Effective?
Speaking of expensive, I’d like to know how much money has been wasted in attempts to find, pick out, and euthanize each member of the pit bull breed. In an article by ___ it is clear that using government funds to do this highly distasteful process is very expensive, and evidently a waste of money. When you blacklist certain breeds of dogs, an overflow of dogs rush into the shelters. While some of your citizens may not know, please know, that I know, that their tax dollars are being spent on animal control, animal shelter intake fees, and then euthanizing their dogs.
Who am I?
As a student on a college campus I get the chance to see dogs on a regular and daily basis. I see dogs that are good, and I see dogs that are bad. The pit bull dogs that I personally know, are not that bad ones. A dog will grow into a good dog with the proper care, training, and attention. Dogs are not responsible for these traits- these are requirements of a good dog owner. As a citizen with rights I believe that one cannot take my dog away due to it being a specific breed. Protect the rights of responsible dog owners instead of scapegoating the pit bulls.
Nobody (Should) Like Drama
When the government enforces a law like this, you need to understand how the public will react. According to the canine journal you are more likely to get hit from a cataclysmic storm or have a malicious contact with hornets than die from a pit bull bite. Instilling fear into the general public on a few breeds makes them less likely to be adopted and thus less likely to be loved. Because of the lack of a good owner, dogs are more likely to grow up as mean dogs, worsening Ontario’s dog biting problem.
More and more evidence has shown that incidents of dog bites are attributed to bad dog owners. Instead of spending tax money punishing responsible dog owners, use it to educate the general public on what it means to be a good dog owner. Blacklisting a dog breed won’t solve the dog biting problem in Ontario unless bad dog owners learn how to be better dog owners.
Biological Engineering Student at the Ohio State University