While the UBCM voted for a bad-dog registry across B.C., Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read wants better local rules that will prevent dog attacks in the first place.
Read opposes Montreal’s recently imposed ban on new pit bull ownership in that city, and signed the change.org petition calling for that city to reverse its policy. A court decision following a challenge by the SPCA has since stalled that bylaw’s implementation.
“I used to own a bull mastiff/pit-bull cross who was an amazingly gentle dog,” Read said on Facebook.
“There are many of these dogs whose lives have been put at risk by a sweeping breed specific ban that I cannot agree with. There are better, more effective ways to regulate than this.”
Ontario has had a ban on pit bulls for 10 years.
She’ll be raising the issue at a future council meeting.
“I think Montreal has really highlighted the need to make sure our laws are really aimed at regulating pet ownership so that we never get to a place where somebody feels compelled to implement a breed-specific ban. I would hate to see anybody want to do that here.”
Read’s view is supported by local veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton, who also opposes breed-specific bans and recently posted a “Pink Tutus for Pit Bulls” video, asking people to think of tutus when they think of pit bulls as a means of breaking the stereotype that all pit bulls are vicious.
“I think we need to ban morons who get dogs for the wrong reasons,” he said.
Decades ago, the German shepherd had the same reputation as the pit bull has today.
If people can’t own pit bulls, they’ll gravitate towards some other breed, he added.
The reason pit bulls cause problems is because people get them for the image of having an aggressive dog, Walton said.
“When I was a kid, it wasn’t the pit bull that was a dangerous dog. It was the German shepherd. Nowadays, the German shepherd is considered an heroic breed.”
Dog shelters and the SPCA all oppose breed-specific bans, he pointed out.
Walton said any large dog “can cause a huge amount of injury.”
Today, he’s more worried about the cane corsos or dogo Argentinos, which are large, guard dogs.
“A lot of these are two times to three times the size of a pit bull and there are people that are picking these breeds specifically … and they are a bit of a problem.”
Walton said there is such a thing as a bad dog, despite having the best of owners.
“Some owners are very good but their dog is aggressive.”
And if a dog is aggressive, Walton said he has no problems euthanizing them. Large dogs require a lot of training and care to make sure they don’t turn out aggressive.
He added there are many dangerous dogs in Maple Ridge.
Walton also fully supports a province-wide dangerous dog registry as promoted by the City of Pitt Meadows.
“I would love that. I would have no problem with that.”
Pitt Meadows proposed such a move at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria. The resolution was supported which means the idea will be passed on to the provincial government.
A province-wide dangerous dog registry would have to be consulted by all animal control agencies and police so that dangerous dogs can be tracked no matter where their owners move in B.C.
They’d be required to record in the registry every dog that kills or severely injures a person or a domestic animal.
Pitt Meadows Coun. Janis Elkerton said it’s too easy for an owner to skip town to a new community with their vicious dog and escape tough restrictions that might otherwise apply.
In two recent incidents of vicious dog attacks in her community, she said, the dog and owner relocated to another municipality, with no notification to authorities there.
She said that makes it difficult to prevent future attacks involving known dangerous dogs.
Public pressure in Pitt Meadows grew last year after Shih Tzu cross ‘Buttons’ was killed by a bull mastiff – spawning a “Justice for Buttons” campaign – and tiny Pomeranian ‘Lilly’ was killed by a pit bull.
The pit bull that killed Lilly was subsequently moved to another community, where the dangerous dog designation slapped on it by Pitt Meadows meant nothing.
The B.C. SPCA has also supported a provincial dangerous dog registry to insure dangerous or vicious designations on dogs made in one community can bolster enforcement elsewhere.
Different cities have different regulations governing dangerous dogs.
Surrey requires designated dangerous dogs there to be muzzled, on leash and competently under control when off property, and in a fully enclosed pen when not in the home, with stiff fines for violators.
UBCM also passed a resolution calling on the province to make owners liable for injuries or damage their pets cause.