dear toronto star: you suck. so does the pit bull ban. (updated with minor apology)

To the editor of the Toronto Star:

Thank you for printing so many excellent letters countering your terrible editorial about the Ontario Dog Owners Liability Act. The letter signed by "Michelle Brew, Toronto" was in fact written by me, Laura Kaminker.

I'm glad to see you kept the meaning of the letter nonetheless. That editorial may have been a new low for your publication, and we were afraid we'd see no letters in response. Your readers deserve a correction and retraction from the Public Editor.
It’s wrong to say opponents of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) are “pit bull fanciers.” I am against BSL and I own a Basset Hound — a dog most people assume can barely move, let alone bite.

I want to see the government crack down on the real problem — bad owners. These owners can’t be bothered to socialize their dogs and don’t follow existing laws (like leash laws). People need to understand that they have responsibilities beyond feeding, watering and licensing their dogs.

I’d also like to see more bylaw enforcement by the City of Toronto. From what I’ve witnessed, the city could make a dent in their budget with fines against these owners.

Heather Mack, Toronto

Not just pit bull fanciers want to see this private member’s bill passed. Thousands of dog owners of any breed are wondering when their breed will be next.

Many pit bull-type dogs are excellent pets. The bill is named Hershey’s Bill after the beloved registered therapy dog who volunteered in seniors homes. After this ridiculous law passed, Hershey was no longer able to volunteer with seniors.

Sue Kingshott, Georgetown

I am quite shocked that this article made it to print in the Star. I am confused as to how this meets basic publishing standards. I’m quite disappointed in the Star and have come to expect so much more from this paper.

Melissa Munro, Maxville

Your editorial is misleading and incorrect. Under the current Dog Owners’ Liability Act, any dog that is “alleged” — merely alleged — to be a pit bull or to be menacing can be confiscated from its owner. It falls to the owner to prove the dog is not a pit bull, something that cannot be done, since the term “pit bull” is vague and subjective.

Until recently, a confiscated dog was automatically killed without any due process for its owner. Now the dog is allowed to live if a home can be found for it outside Ontario. This is the worst kind of bigotry: judging a creature by its appearance rather than its behaviour.

Your editorial states that “a pit bull can rip out a child’s throat or disembowel another dog.” In fact, any large dog that has been abused and trained to fight could do this.

But any dog of any breed that has been raised with love and trained properly will behave as a dog should. When dogs are abused by dangerous people, the dog is not a criminal — it is a victim.

Your editorial shamefully compares a dog, a sentient creature, to a machine gun, an inanimate object.

The people who want this law changed are not a “minority of people” who like “dangerous dogs.” We are ordinary Ontarians who love our dogs and believe in justice.

Michelle Brew, Toronto
I'm sure Michelle Brew wrote a great letter, too.

* * * *

Update. Turns out Michelle Brew did write this letter. I posted my letter on an anti-BSL Facebook page, and offered to anyone who wanted to crib from it. Michelle removed the personal stuff about Buster, and that's what ran.

The Public Editor emailed me and we put together the trail from there. So the letters editor of the Toronto Star doesn't suck. Apologies to him or her.

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