9.04.2005

vague and menacing

Ahhh. Sitting on a chair, typing at a desk, drinking out of a real mug, after having slept in a real bed. Much more human today.

I've been reading through the information the ASP left for us, which includes a copy of new Ontario law banning pit bulls or any dog that anyone might ever think might be even partly a pit bull.

I blogged about the law while it was being debated, before it passed. And there's great information on breed-specific legislation, from a Canadian perspective, here at dogwatch.net.

Here are some choice excerpts from Dog Owners' Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter D.15:
4. (1) A proceeding may be commenced in the Ontario Court of Justice against an owner of a dog if it is alleged that,

(a) the dog has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal;

(b) the dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals; or

(c) the owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from,

(i) biting or attacking a person or domestic animal, or

(ii) behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.
"Behaving in a manner that poses a menace"? This is an extraordinarily vague term. As ASP said at our door the other day, a person who doesn't understand dogs can walk by a fenced yard, see a dog barking at a fence, and feel threatened and menaced - although the dog is just being a dog, safe behind its fence, and doing no harm. Here's more:
Onus of proof, pit bulls
(10) If it is alleged in any proceeding under this section that a dog is a pit bull, the onus of proving the that dog is not a pit bull lies on the owner of the dog.
So some asshole neighbor alleges my dog is a pit bull, and I have to prove he is not. How does one go about proving a mutt is a mutt?

Under this law, it is illegal to take in a stray dog that you think might be a pit bull. So when I saw Buster on that cold and rainy December night in 1999, covered in wounds and sores, frightened and cold, I would have had to call Animal Services and have him killed, rather than take him into my home and make him part of my family. Very humane. Indeed, the Humane Society of Canada opposes all breed specific legislation, and strenuously opposes the Ontario ban.

Read more here, and if you want to debate breed-specific legislation, please do it on your own blog. Sympathy and support are welcome, alternative perspectives can take a hike.

Also, in case you are very new to wmtc, Buster is not a pit bull. He's a mutt I found on the street. He reacts aggressively to other dogs (except his sister Cody). Solution: we keep him well away from other dogs.

16 comments:

redsock said...

Re proving the breed:

Is this 101% useless or are there something like DNA markers for breeds?

Is there any factual (or semi-factual) way take a blood sample and determine, for example, this dog is 33.4% lab and 17.5% poodle, etc.?

Also -- is the law like the old "one-drop" rule of being black? ... Even a .01% pit bull is a pit bull.

Lone Primate said...

I certainly understand your concern, and I find the reverse onus clause constitutionally questionable. But I don't think you have too much cause for worry. Neither of your dogs looks to me like a pitbull. I mean, they're going to have to draw the line somewhere; a poodle could conceivably be part pitbull, so it seems to me the law, in that aspect, is probably insupportable. And really, I think the law is aimed at the kind of people who buy pitbulls for the same reason they buy .44 magnums... they're assholes trying to project power, threat, fear. They're not about the dogs, they're about the message the breed sends, which is a terrible abuse of a companion animal from the start. They're the kind of people likely to prompt wary neighbours to complain. That doesn't strike me as your style.

mkk said...

It's quite unbelievable that Ontario legislators, who are apparently otherwise reasonable people, could enact such a discriminatory law.

BTW, I really like your new wmtc subtitle (american by birth; canadian by choice)!

L-girl said...

And really, I think the law is aimed at the kind of people who buy pitbulls for the same reason they buy .44 magnums... they're assholes trying to project power, threat, fear. They're not about the dogs, they're about the message the breed sends, which is a terrible abuse of a companion animal from the start. They're the kind of people likely to prompt wary neighbours to complain. That doesn't strike me as your style.

LP, you're absolutely right on all counts. However, the pit bull ban applies to any and all dogs that look like pit bulls not already in Ontario before August 29. (Damn! We would have planned differently!) But I am relieved to hear you don't think B looks like a PB. Many people think he does.

It's quite unbelievable that Ontario legislators, who are apparently otherwise reasonable people, could enact such a discriminatory law.

There were some much-publicized attacks, the media went nuts, and the legislation was pushed through with a "look like we're doing something" mentality, against the advice and testimony of all experts.

BTW, I really like your new wmtc subtitle (american by birth; canadian by choice)!

Thanks! I'm trying it out for a while, subject to change at a later date.

Off to Linen 'N' Things!

L-girl said...

which is a terrible abuse of a companion animal from the start.

Also wanted to note, this is probably what messed Buster up in the first place. Dog trainers and behaviorists have told us that he was probably trained to fight, or - get this - used as bait. Meaning, other dogs set upon him to train them to be more vicious.

This would explain his extreme anxiety and aggression towards other dogs.

It's inconceivable to me that people can use living creatures in such horrible ways. I can hardly bear to think about it.

Now I'm really outta here.

Anonymous said...

I would say from his pictures that Buster is a Dalmation with really big spots.

ALPF

RobfromAlberta said...

I'm really sorry to hear you are having so much trouble so soon. I can't really say I'm surprised though. We Canadians want the government to fix everything. If someone says something that offends you, if the neighbour's dog barks at you, if the guy down the street doesn't mow his lawn often enough for your tastes, complain to the authorities. Canadians can't do anything for themselves. It's something you're learning the hard way.

mkk said...

It's not just in Canada. Not long ago, a friend in Pennsylvania (in Blue Bell, an upscale community near Philadelphia) was visited by a police officer to say that some neighbors [neighbours] had complained that their lawn clippings were being left on the sidewalk.

L-girl said...

ALPF: LOL :)

Rob: I don't want to give the wrong impression, that we're having tons of trouble and the welcome has been lacking. This really was the only problem. Albeit one that causes me much grief.

But I know what you're saying. The RA might have spoken to me - they didn't have to seek out "authorities".

Mkk: You're absolutely right, the "nanny govt" mentality is not limited to Canada. Imagine calling the police about lawn clippings! What you don't know, though, is that Rob never misses an opportunity to bash his countrymen. He's very disappointed in his country these days.

mkk said...

Rob, I confess that I have not followed wmtc faithfully until quite recently and did not know of your with Canada. What is the nature of your complaints? My husband and I are country-shopping, as disgusted, infuriated, and frustrated as we are with everything related to the W Administration. Should we be looking Down Under? Should we learn a new language?

L-girl said...

Mkk: Rob is a conservative from Alberta. His perspective is going to be very different from yours. You might visit his blog for more details.

I also note that Rob is a true conservative, not a neocon, not a screaming wingnut. He's shown me that conservatives can be intelligent and open-minded. I can't say I really believed that before meeting Rob.

RobfromAlberta said...

Mkk, I don't want to give the wrong impression, I truly love my country, I really love my country. But my country disappoints me. We have so much potential and fail to achieve it so often. I suppose Laura feels something similar about the USA. Canadians can be incredibly generous. For example, there are currently first responders from Vancouver Search and Rescue, lineworkers from Ontario Hydro and volunteers from the Canadian Red Cross working in Louisiana. Some have been there since Wednesday! Bush was still on vacation in Texas when some of those guys arrived. These people give me hope for this country. Unfortunately, they are the exception, not the rule.

RobfromAlberta said...

I also note that Rob is a true conservative, not a neocon, not a screaming wingnut.

When people fist started talking about the "neocons", I was curious as to how they differ from old-fashioned conservatives. So, I read up a bit on Leo Strauss who, I discovered, was the philosophical godfather of the movement. I was, at best, unimpressed. My first impression was that Strauss was incredibly elitist. He believed conservative elites should run the world and use religion as the mechanism of social control. I bristle at the thought of social control. I believe conservatism means more freedom, not less. Live and let live.

James said...

My first impression was that Strauss was incredibly elitist.

Yup. It's important to remember that a lot of modern neo-conservatives were radical (as in actually radical, not name-calling radical) leftists in the 60s. David Horowitz is a prime example: he was an avid Marxist-Leninist back in the day. Their attitude hasn't changed much, just their approach.

Probably the best way to get a feel for the neo-conservatives is to check out the Project for a New American Century, which, among other things, talks about now a "catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor" may be necessary to get support behind neo-conservative foreign policy. Many of the participants in PNAC became members of Bush's cabinet.

L-girl said...

Elitist, powerful and very dangerous.

PNAC is a mainstay of the 9/11 inquiry movement.

L-girl said...

I don't want to give the wrong impression, I truly love my country, I really love my country. But my country disappoints me. We have so much potential and fail to achieve it so often. I suppose Laura feels something similar about the USA.

Sadly, no. Not anymore. I used to love the US. But after so much disappointment and disillusionment, and my continuing self-education in US history, that love is gone. I suppose that's part of why I could leave.