Leash laws may be more effective than breed bans

Here it comes…my first rant.  Yesterday the CBC reported that 3 people were attacked by a German Shepherd.  The dog was left unleash and unattended by the owner.  Two of the three sustained substantial injuries.  Earlier in the year, the London Free Press had front page news of another attack.  Not a pit bull type dog in that case either.

Years ago, I predicted in the Londoner that five years after the Pit Bull Ban was enacted in Ontario, we’d see news headlines on other breeds of dogs.  And guess what … here we are.

Did the provincial government hear the warnings of experts who predicted a shift in aggressive dog breeds?  Did they not hear that it would put people at risk in the future?

Industry professionals fully expected people switch to another type of muscle dog.  They did so in droves.  They switched to something new and legal.  Shelters were swamped.  Dire warnings from experts went unheeded.

Now what?  Do we ban more breeds?  Let’s look at what could have worked.

Calgary has one of the most effective dog bite prevention models in North America.  One of the pillars of their success is a zero tolerance for leash law violations.  The dog in the CBC story was unleashed.  It is possible that enforced leash laws would have kept 3 people out of harm’s way.  It might have if Ontario enforced leash laws as aggressively as Calgary does.  It may have worked if the McGuinty government adopted Calgary’s model instead of a breed ban.

Now we have three injured people and the owner is not facing any criminal charges.  He might be fined for by-law infractions.  He might get a slap on the wrist.  Had this been a 50 pound short coated dog, it would be put down for darting off to give friendly kisses.  Tell me how that makes sense.

As a mother, I certainly do not feel my child has been at all protected by D.O.L.A.  It’s time to scrap it and do something that prevents dog bites.  Retribution does not heal injuries.  I somehow doubt that paltry by-law tickets will heal the physical and mental trauma these people suffered.

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