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Animal regulations with some teeth

Whistler residents divided over calls to ban specific dog breeds



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The desire by communities to ban various breeds can be seen right across Canada. Next month Ontario will table a proposed law to ban pit bulls. The law will also allow irresponsible dog owners to be jailed and vicious dogs to be euthanized.

Municipalities will administer the new law.

A rash of highly publicized pit bull attacks prompted the province-wide ban in recent months. In one case a Toronto man was mauled by two pit bulls he was walking for a friend in August. It took more than 12 bullets by police to kill the dogs.

In Winnipeg pit bulls have been banned since 1990. In 1989 there were 28 pit bull attacks. In the 14 years since the ban was implemented there have been 32.

Closer to home, a Vernon couple is also calling for a provincial ban on pit bulls after their small dog was attacked and killed. The pit bull in this case was seized by the SPCA and put down.

B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman does not support legislation banning pit bulls. And he is not alone.

Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) shelter director Carol Coffey believes it would be a clumsy and ineffective way to combat the problem of dogs that attack other animals or people.

"It is a Band-Aid solution," she said.

The problem is that if pit bulls are banned then the people interested in owning than type of dog will just get a similar type of dog, such as a Rottweiler, and then it’s likely that incidents of dog bites for those animals will go up, she said.

"So it is an endless cycle," said Coffey.

In general WAG will not accept any dog which has bitten a person. WAG will accept pit bulls for adoption but only after they have undergone an evaluation by a vet to make sure they do not present any danger to the public. Coffey believes the root of the problem lies with the owners.

"It is important that people realize that any dog is capable of being a dangerous dog," she said.

"Certain breeds do have certain characteristics but what it comes down to is more how the dog is trained and handled by the owner.

"Sometimes people get pit bulls because they want them for protection, or they think it will give them a macho image and they end up really not properly training the dog and socializing the dog. They need to make sure they have control over the animal and that they have leadership with that animal.