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McGuinty Government Introduces Pit Bull Ban Legislation

Archived News Release

McGuinty Government Introduces Pit Bull Ban Legislation

Bill Would Ban Dangerous Breed, Increase Dog Owners' Responsibility

Ministry of the Attorney General

TORONTO -- The McGuinty government is protecting Ontarians by introducing legislation to ban pit bulls and toughen penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public, Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today.

"We heard loud and clear that Ontarians want to be protected from the menace of pit bulls," said Bryant. "If passed, the amendments to the Dog Owners' Liability Act would protect Ontarians not only from these dangerous dogs, but from irresponsible owners."

If passed, the legislation introduced today would amend the Dog Owners' Liability Act to ban pit bulls in the province. The legislation would double fines up to a maximum of $10,000, and allow for jail sentences of up to six months for individuals who own dangerous dogs that bite, attack or pose a threat. The legislation would also allow fines up to a maximum of $60,000 for corporations who own such dogs.

"Those who currently own pit bulls will be able to keep their dogs," said Bryant. " However, these dogs will have to be muzzled and on leashes while in public, and spayed or neutered. Municipalities can also add further restrictions."

The proposed legislation is designed to avoid a patchwork of bans created by individual municipalities throughout the province, and support municipal governments while respecting their authority under the Municipal Act. If passed, the legislation would be the first of its kind in North America.

"AMO appreciated an opportunity to advise the minister on how to implement the Province's pit bull ban in a manner that is practical, effective and affordable for Ontario municipalities and we know that the minister will continue to work with us as the legislation proceeds," says Roger Anderson, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

"A weight has been lifted from my shoulders knowing that this legislation will reduce the chances of someone else being viciously attacked by a pit bull as I have," said Darlene Wagner, a letter carrier in Chatham who lost her right ear and broke both wrists as a result of an attack by two pit bulls. "I commend the Attorney General for taking action and banning this particularly menacing breed of animal across Ontario."

"The legislation the Attorney General is proposing makes our playgrounds, sidewalks and neighbourhoods safer," said Chief Julian Fantino of Toronto Police Service. "It is clearly in the best interest of public safety and it will help to protect our officers who face these vicious animals when carrying out their duties."

"I support the Province's swift action," said Mayor David Miller of Toronto. "This problem is not exclusive to any single municipality, it is a provincewide issue and therefore the best solution is a provincewide strategy to keep Ontarians safe from dangerous dogs."

"Since our ban, Kitchener has seen a dramatic decline in the number of pit bull attacks from 18 to about one per year," said Mayor Carl Zehr of Kitchener. "Every Ontarian, in every city across Ontario deserves the same level of safety that we have in Kitchener. That's what this legislation would do."

"In Ottawa, there have been 15 incidents involving pit bulls since the beginning of 2003 where police have had to intervene and this does not count incidents dealt with by by-law enforcement officers," said Chief Vince Bevan of Ottawa Police Service. "I welcome the government's legislation which, if passed, will provide us with the additional tools we need to deal with often terrifying dog related incidents and to hold owners accountable."

"We are setting high standards for responsible dog ownership in the province of Ontario," said Bryant. "By introducing this new legislation, we are building safe, strong communities for all Ontarians."

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