Ontario Veterinary Medical Association urges repeal of breed specific provisions in Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA)

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), representing on behalf of the province’s 4,000 veterinarians, has 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 Owner’s Liability Act (DOLA).

Citing its science-based approach to issues of community safety, the OVMA reminded the leaders that breed-specific legislation does not result in community safety, as evidenced by the fact that the DOLA’s breed specific provisions have not produced a reduction in dog bites in the province.

Hastily enacted in 2005 at the urging of later disgraced Attorney General Michael Bryant, the DOLA, in concert with the revised Animals in Research Act, has resulted in the deaths of more than 1000 dogs.

Given recent developments in genetics, animal behavior studies and the problems of visual breed identification, it is likely that many of the dogs destroyed did not satisfy the definition of “pit bull” in the DOLA. It is certain that the definition is not relevant to the issue of community safety.

For example, in 2010, officials in Brampton, Ontario, blithely proceeding without the warrant specified in the DOLA, seized two dogs, neither of which had ever been complained about for aggressive behavior or running at large.  Three months later, in the face of public protests which even took the form of street demonstrations, and a veterinarian’s opinion that neither of the dogs met the statute’s definition of “pit bull,” the dogs were released to their owners.

The OVMA, in its open letter, recommends instead that the province consider the responsible pet ownership model of Calgary.

[Sources: OVMA Website. Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA).]