Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL, is the legislative mechanism that politicians utilize when they fear for their constituents’ safety and don’t know what else to do to make residents feel safe.

Breed-specific legislation has been rejected by every major dog organization in North America and beyond. Most of these have boards and memberships filled with people whose lives have been dedicated to understanding dog behaviour.  All have publicly stated that they do NOT support breed-specific legislation and that they do NOT believe that it works.

People who support non-breed specific dangerous dog laws believe that no specific breed is inherently bad or prone to aggression.  Responsible breeders understand this concept as well and only place puppies in homes that are appropriate for the given breed. Responsible breeders interview potential puppy people. They stress the importance of training, socialization and how dogs are different from humans. They want to see how your children interact with the dogs.


Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA)

On October 26, 2004 the Ontario government introduced Bill 132 to amend the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA). Bill 132 was passed by the Legislative Assembly on March 1, 2005. It received Royal Assent on March 9, 2005 and took effect on August 29, 2005.

The regulations can be found here

The legislation bans pit bulls in Ontario, places restrictions on existing “pit bulls”, and toughens the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public. The law bans Pit Bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers and any dog “that has an appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to any of those dogs.”

The scariest part of the legislation is the ambiguity with which it is written.   There is concern that the definition is so unclear that it will be confusing for owners and animal control officers to determine which dogs should be classified as pit bulls.    

It is so important to do everything we can to make the public understand that this is not about one breed.  This Legislation affects us all no matter what breed you have.  The Law should be as simple as “If you have a dog that bites or is determined to be dangerous, you will be penalized.”  Period.  It makes no difference what the breed of dog is.

Are Bull Terriers banned in Ontario?

DOLA does not specify Bull Terriers as one of the banned breeds, in fact the person who spear headed this whole thing has publicly stated that the Bull Terrier is exempt.  Hockey Night in Canada and the fact that Don Cherry once owned a Bully has made the Bull Terrier recognizable in Canada, and this has helped us in some situations with identification of our breed (“it’s a Don Cherry dog!”) 

How can you help?

    • In Canada, we still have an opportunity to educate our decision makers regarding responsible ownership. Please do your part and be a role model to others: pick up after your dog, don’t let dogs run free, socialize and train your dogs from a young age.
    • Do not buy into unsubstantiated panic. Consult with the members of the BSL Committee, Lori Bozian and Ann Radford  to get clarification and updated info.
    • Please donate and/or join anti-BSL organizations like The Dog Legislation Council of Canada
    • Be clear of the restrictions in your individual Municipalities.  Each Municipality can implement their own restrictions, (muzzle laws, leash laws, fines, etc.) It is important that you know what these restrictions, if any, are. 
    • Education is very important.