In 2005, Ontario passed a ban on all "pit bulls" and any dog that may appear to be a "pit bull."
Ontario officials claimed that "pit bulls" are "different" than other types of dogs and inflict injuries unlike other dogs. Despite the fact that there was no evidence to support this claim, a ban on "pit bulls" was enacted and continues to be enforced in Ontario.
In June 2012, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) published an open letter to all three of Ontario's political party leaders, including Premier Dalton McGuinty, urging repeal of the breed specific provisions of the Dog Owners' Liability Act (DOLA).
The breed ban in Ontario has not advanced the goal of reducing dog bites.
Dog Bites in Ontario
Pit bull ban fails to reduce dog bites in Ontario
By DON PEAT, Toronto Sun
April 28, 2010 — The provincial government is barking up the wrong tree by dooming pit bulls in a bid to collar dog attacks, says the embattled Toronto Humane Society.
A survey of municipalities conducted by the society revealed no significant drop in dog bite cases since the government passed breed specific legislation in 2005 that resulted in "countless" pit bulls and related Staffordshire Terriers being destroyed.
In a statement, the THS called on the provincial government to amend its breed specific legislation and "stop the punishment of innocent animals."
According to the society, there was a 10% drop in dog bite cases from 2004 to 2005, to just over 5,000. The survey showed a slight drop again in 2006, then the number of cases increased to about to about the 2005 level by last year.
"Banning the entire breed is not a solution," THS spokesman Ian McConachie told the Sun. The province should look at alternatives like licensing animal owners and better public education, he said.
"Dogs are not born violent," McConachie said. Instead, they are "made that way by irresponsible owners who train them to be that way or neglect them and they develop behavioural problems.
Attorney General Chris Bentley was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the ministry of the attorney general, said the government heard clearly from Ontarians that they wanted protection from pit bulls.
"This legislation ensures that there are fewer opportunities for vicious attacks by a pit bull," Crawley said. "As time continues, we will be able to see the full effects of the legislative amendments and municipal enforcement efforts."
NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo said she plans to table a private member's bill next week aimed at repealing the "absurd" breed-specific aspects of the Dog Owners' Liability Act.
She noted that Scotland's parliament just repealed its breed ban and England seemed poised to make a similar move.
"We're just behind the curve on this one," she said. "It has not effected dog bites or fatal dog bites one iota, "It has nothing to do with the breed, it has to do with the deed and the owner."
DiNovo said she expects the bill will be a hot topic when the legislature resumes in the fall.
"(The legislation) simply makes no sense," she said.
Winnipeg vs. Calgary
Winnipeg passed a breed ban against "pit bull" dogs in June 1990. While the number of reported dog bites in a city can fluctuate from year to year, it is clear that Winnipeg's breed ban has had no appreciable effect in reducing the number of reported dog bites, especially when compared to other areas without breed bans.
Additionally, prior to the city's ban on "pit bull" dogs, a young child died in Winnipeg as a result of dog-bite-related injuries. The breed/type of dog involved in the single documented fatality in Winnipeg was not a pit bull or pit bull-type dog.
In 2007, the population of Winnipeg was 653,000.
Calgary's animal service by-laws have been and remain breed neutral. Dog bites in Calgary are at the lowest they have been in twenty-five years, despite a steady population growth. Calgary has effectively and significantly reduced the number of reported dogs bites from 621 in 1985 to 145 in 2008.
Not only have reported dog bites been dramatically reduced in Calgary, but aggressive dog complaints (includes chasing, biting, and damage to property) have decreased from 1,938 in 1985 to 340 in 2008.
In 2008, the human population of Calgary was 1,043,000: almost 400,000 more than Winnipeg.
Click here to read NCRC's commentary on "Effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in decreasing the incidence of dog-bite injury hospitalizations in people in the Canadian province of Manitoba" (Injury Prevention, June 2012).