Appearances can be deceiving

It’s time I came out of the closet.  For years I may have been harboring a felon.  In Ontario, it is illegal to own a dog that looks similar to a Pit Bull.  Our girl Kiki that passed away two weeks ago was a 50 pound, short coated dog that skirted way too close to the line of “substantially similar.”

The law can no longer hurt her, and it’s time to tell it like it is.

Kiki came from a shelter.  Terribly ill, we fostered her and she never left.  We fell in love the first time we saw her tail wagging her body.  We did not choose a muscular dog.  We are not criminals.  We just wanted a puppy and it was her temperament that won us over.

It wasn’t long before people started telling us she was a Pit Bull.  Frankly we didn’t care.  She was great with people, loved the dog park and adored the cat.  When our son was born, she loved him too.  Kiki was our All-Canadian Mixed breed girl.

But then a rash of dog attacks prompted the Ontario Liberal Government, spearheaded by Dalton McGuinty, to ban Pit Bull Terriers and dogs with similar appearances.  Failure to comply with this law meant instant death sentences.

The head of London’s Animal Care and Control Centre told me that I must register Kiki as a Pit Bull if I had any suspicion she had Pit blood.  After careful deliberation I concluded it made no sense to falsely label her as a dangerous dog.  There was no concrete evidence either way.  Appearances be damned.

I won’t say that we went into hiding.  But life changed.  People treated us differently once the hate based government fear mongering took hold.  Some people became abusive.  We were threatened with bodily harm during walks.  I became afraid to walk her publically.  People told us she would “suddenly turn” and “maul our son.”

I did worry for my son.  I worried that those people who were fired up by fear mongering propaganda would attack us during walks.  We were treated like criminals because it is assumed that only criminals want “this type of dog.”

Kiki lived the rest of her life out in peace.  She never did hurt anyone.

Prior to the final trip to the veterinarian I made the decision to test her DNA.  In my heart I needed to know.

Kiki was a Golden Retriever cross with a smattering of Beagle, Collie and Australian Shepherd.  All of that hate – and not an ounce of Pit Bull in her blood.

To all the owners of unpedigreed dogs that were registered as Pit Bulls, I suggest you get DNA testing done.  Should you find out your short coated dog is not a Pit Bull, demand a refund of all those fees you overpaid.  Better yet, talk to a lawyer about a class action suit.

To all the people who threaten innocent citizens, you are wrong.  You cannot tell a breed by appearance.

To the Ontario Liberal Government, I hate how you made us feel.  You created a law based on eye witness accounts of “vicious 150 pound Pit Bulls”.  You cannot tell a breed by appearance, so your law is based on a false assumption.  Those dogs could just as well have been labs, goldens, or poodle crosses.

You created a culture based on hate and fear mongering and you placed my family in harm’s way.  I have the right to feel safe walking down the street with my dog.  I hate that you put my family in danger and made us feel that we could not defend ourselves.  Your law affects nice, law abiding citizens in the worst ways possible.  Knowing that I can call the police does not make me feel safer in the moment.

I am a law abiding citizen.  I am a responsible dog owner.  I have owned a 50 pound mixed breed short coated dog and I have unjustly been under attack because of the Dog Owner’s Liability Act.

It is not a fair law.  It is not a reasonable law.  It does not keep anyone safer.  Dog bites are not going down in Ontario.  This law has put families like mine in danger.

Why don’t you stop airing Ontario travel ads that depict children running with off leash dogs?  It’s a little like showing drinking and driving.  It’s dangerous.

Try putting your money in some dog bite prevention initiatives like industry regulation instead.  When you’re ready to look at the research, it’s right here waiting for you.  All you have to do is ask.