Reaction to calls for BC pit-bull ban

Pit bull attacks and subsequent calls to ban the breed always elicit a big response from the CBC Community.

Last week, a pit bull in White Rock, B.C., attacked a four-year-old girl at a barbecue. And this weekend another put bull attacked a four-year-old boy in Kelowna.

The parents of both children are calling for a province-wide ban on the breed. But in Ontario, there’s pressure to lift that province’s pit bull ban because of the vague description in the legislation, which prohibits dogs with broad shoulders, short hair and a wide forehead.

The law gives a description because “pit bull” isn’t the name of a recognized breed of dog, but a term that could apply to American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or crosses between these breeds. But Ontario MPP Randy Hillier says the description could be applied to many breeds.

In the comments, members of the CBC Community debated the merits of such bans.

  • “It seems that it is in their nature to attack like this. I like dogs, but living in Vancouver’s West End where there are lots of pit bulls, I always give them a wide berth. They seem to be a status symbol. ‘I’m tough – look at my dog.’ Ban them in B.C.,” said watching_this.

  • “Pit bulls need to be neutered and taken on long regular walks. Being a good person doesn’t automatically make you a good dog owner. You have to study the breed, its evolution and fulfill the instincts of the breed,” said Tom Archer.

  • “Just because someone is a ‘good person’ doesn’t make them a good dog owner and handler. My dog is a sweet, gentle lab cross without an ounce of aggression in her, but I’d still be negligent if I left her to play with a child without close supervision. Dogs are hierarchical predators and this could happen just as easily with a Pomeranian as with a Pit (though, of course, the Pit has greater potential to do damage),” said seawall_runner.

  • “According to the study Breed Differences in Canine Aggression. pit bulls scored average for stranger directed aggression (although high for dog to dog aggression). The three most aggressive breeds overall were dachshunds, chihuahuas, and Jack Russell terriers. Although small dogs, they can still do a lot of damage, particularly to a small child. After years of working as a letter carrier, my experience is that the small breeds are consistently more likely to be aggressive. I used to joke that if the dog was big enough to throw a saddle over he was likely to be safe to approach,” said Ianmdll.

  • “Here’s my thing about dogs: they’re animals. They’re not people, no matter how much some owners see them as their own kids. Let me spell it out: they’re not your kids. It doesn’t matter how much you train them, they’re still animals at heart, and the issue is probably a bit of everything. The breed, the owners, the training, or lack thereof, and children’s behaviour around said dogs. Sometimes I see kids petting dogs too hard or too much or roughhousing with them; they don’t know any better, and the parents really should be reining in their kids. Yes dogs are social animals, but you still have to respect their space. I think it is precisely because they are housebroken and considered part of the family, that kids don’t have a healthy respect for a dog’s space. And a dog will eventually revert back to its instincts, regardless of training,” said pud333.

  • “I’m glad to hear the dog was put down immediately. All dogs, regardless of breed, should be culled if they are human aggressive. However, breed bans are nonsense. They give an illusion of safety. Aggressive dog bylaws are much more effective. And that’s not just my opinion. This is the position of the Canadian Vets Assoc., the American Vets Assoc, the SPCA, the Humane Society, etc. FACT: many breeds bite. If we ban such breeds then say goodbye to Labs (yes, Labs!), Huskies, cocker spaniels, German shepherds, etc.” said MalcolmStephens.

And CBC Community member robonthecoast had this to say:

“While I am appalled at the injury this young girl sustained I am equally appalled at the lack of knowledge that many dog owners and their friends have about dogs and their relationship with humans. We have three dogs at home and one very large husky/shepherd cross. We have always had dogs. We have raised three children, many grandchildren and now another grandchild in the company of dogs without incident.

“Injuries to toddlers are a direct result of adults applying human values to dog behaviour. In fact the highest rate of severe injury and death to toddlers comes from common breeds not pit bulls, the most notorious being German shepherds and spaniels. Because we live with and interact with dogs in our households we assume that dogs act and think like humans. We try to use impose human intellect on dogs. Dogs are not humans. They use instinct not intellect to interact with us. Watch a female dog raise her brood. Notice how she trains and guides them. She uses nips, growls and gestures to instill in her pups the necessary skills to survive.

“I wish this little girl a speedy recovery. I wish her a short memory of her pain so she can enjoy again the companionship of dogs. I also wish dog owners would stop treating their animals like children and instead understand what makes a dog tick. That is a human responsibility.”

Thanks, as always, for your feedback. Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments below.

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