Responsible dog owners will share the brunt of whatever restrictive measures that result, but these are not the people who need lessons in taking responsibility seriously.
By Letter to the Editor
Published January 10, 2007
On December 27, 2006 the Hamilton Spectator reported a terrible attack on Christmas day of a toddler in a downtown Hamilton park by two young Rottweiler dogs who had escaped their pens.
Ontario's Dog Owner's Liability Act (DOLA) and Bill 132, which amends it to restrict ownership of pit bulls, were not able to prevent this horrible attack. Responsible dog owners will share the brunt of whatever restrictive measures that result, but these are not the people who need lessons in taking responsibility seriously.
The only thing that would have prevented this attack was the clear understanding that these dogs should have been unable to escape their yard, or better yet, be inside the home with their owners learning how to behave around people.
I can see a lot of fallout from this incident and most of it makes no sense.
Why extend the Pit Bull and related breeds ban? Did the leash-and-muzzle aspect of the law avert this attack? No. It doesn't matter how many breeds you ban, all it takes is one owner who doesn't take the responsibility seriously to have another tragedy.
One problem with DOLA is that it puts "menace" in the eye of the beholder. The bigger the dog, the easier it is to see "threatening behaviour" in the dog simply observing you as you pass by. The more you fear or dislike dogs, the more possible it is to see threat where there is none.
If today you include Rottweilers, tomorrow German Shepherds and Dobermans. So what happens when a mixed breed dog or another breed attacks? This ultimately means banning all large/medium dogs, which works fine until a Welsh Corgi or a Scots Terrier bites somebody.
Is a legal, leashed, friendly dog in a park with its owner going to have a similar incident? No. Even the most dog-fearful person must know that not all dogs are waiting for a chance to attack children.
Due to this horrible attack, I worry that City parks may be declared "out of bounds" to all dogs and owners. I'm already personally aware that no matter if you obey all rules and regulations to the letter, owners walking leashed, licensed, friendly dogs are still seen as interlopers and intruders in their own local parks.
This horrible incident happened because somebody didn't take their responsibility seriously, not because everyone who owns a dog is equally culpable, or because all dogs want to attack children.
I hope that when City Council and Mayor Fred Eisenberger decide policy on this, as I'm sure they will, they make intelligent decision based on facts and not fearmongering. I also hope that they will not sign off more of our under-sized park spaces to groups who may be supportive of fear mongering for their own ends.
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