Who’s REALLY Responsible When Dog’s Bite?

I have spent years railing at the government trying to make them understand, breed bans just simply do not work! “Look to the other end of the leash!” I scream. The only people who hear me or understand me, are other responsible dog owners, and it is not them I am trying to reach. They already understand that ANY dog is capable of biting, and that the only thing that prevents dog bites is proper handling of, and approach to the animal in question.

Everyone else seems to think that all onus is on the dog, and that no dog should bite no matter what goes on around it. Those of us with half a brain have realized however, that animals do not think like humans. They understand things on a much more basic level. They read body language, and they, just like us, respond to invasion of their space.

Now let us take a look at the “random” dog attack. What most people perceive as a random dog bite attack is in fact, not random at all. In most cases, the dog is reacting to an invasion of their space the bite victim is not even aware they have made. In other cases they are reacting to an overly boisterous approach which invades their comfort zone. Simply put, every dog bite incident is provoked in some way. The average dog bite victim just does not realize that they have provoked the incident.

Now hang on, before you start throwing rotten tomatoes in my general direction, I am not saying that the dog bite victim is to blame for getting bitten. The fact remains that most dogs that bite have socialization and handling issues to begin with, but I am not blaming the bite on the dog either. The blame in these situations, is actually to be shared equally between the HUMANS.

Dog owners should know their pets! Really, really, know their pets! I say this because, once you bring a dog into your home it becomes your responsibility to turn that animal into a well adjusted member of canine society. That means proper training and socialization. That means being aware of where your dog is, and what it is doing at ALL times when you are out in public. Oh gee! Let me see now, that gives me a great opening to my next point…

When dog owners are out in public with their dogs they should know where they are and what they are doing at all times. That is tough to do if you are one of those people who thinks their dog is so “good” and “well trained” that they do not need to leash them in public! Or one of those people who thinks it is okay to tie your dog up in a strange publicly accessible spot and walk away from them.

Many people are bitten by off leash dogs, and dogs tied up outside stores and restaurants. Firstly, a responsible dog owner always leashes their dog in public. A) it’s the law. B) it protects your pet and the public from harm. Secondly, no responsible dog owner would distress their dog by tying it up in a strange place and leaving it unattended. This would put the dog in an anxious frame of mind, and quite possibly trigger fear aggression in the animal. Responsible dog owners would leave their dog at home when going shopping or out for a meal.

Therefore with the above information we have shown that in the case of dog bite incidents involving dogs tied up or off leash, the dog owner is already partially responsible for the incident due to their actions. “Now, how could the VICTIM possibly bear any responsibility?” you ask. To illustrate that we must look at a hypothetical dog bite situation in which the victim is SOLELY responsible for the dog bite incident due to their actions.

In this case the victim is bitten by a leashed dog while jogging down the street. The diagram shows the dog and owner in relation to the jogger. Arrows depict the direction in which they were travelling..

ImageHad the jogger passed on the left where there was plenty of space to distance herself from the dog, the bite would never have happened. However, for some reason in this case the jogger chose to attempt to go between the leashed dog and the brick wall invading the dog’s space and taking it by surprise. The dog’s reaction was to turn and snap at the threat. The jogger’s decision to pass on the right instead of the left is what prompted the bite.

Society always blames the dog when dog bite incidents happen. However, if we are going to keep things real, dog bites usually happen because of negligent owners and bite victims who make bad decisions.

What am I really saying here? I guess if i had to make a blanket statement it would have to be this, society needs to learn to stop using animals as their scapegoat. You want to bring down dog bite stats Ontario? Then do what is logical and place the onus on the dog owner.BSL isn’t working, because ALL dogs bite if not handled and treated correctly!

Oh, and for you potential dog bite victims out there! You wouldn’t rush up to a tiger spewing baby talk and poking and prodding would you? No? Why not? Oh yeah, because they are unpredictable and have the capability to hurt you if provoked! Well then brainiac! Why the hell can’t you get your head wrapped around the fact that you should approach a dog you don’t know with the same caution and respect for space? Just sayin’



An Open Letter to the General Public on the Matter of BSL

What if…

you woke up this morning turned on the news and heard the anchor person say:

“The federal government passed a legislation yesterday which gives them the right to round up all Canadian citizens not born in the country and incarcerate them indefinitely on suspicion of traitorous acts. The legislation was a direct response to the arrest of two men last week who attempted to blow up the Prime Minister’s residence. Both were found to be immigrants, and strong public outcry from native born Canadians prompted the government to take action and restrict these dangerous people, so as to prevent another attack. All immigrants are currently being taken into custody, they will be incarcerated until the federal government can determine whether euthanizing all immigrants is the correct action under the circumstances. Until that time those immigrants that are determined “safe” will be required to wear leg irons and hand cuffs when out in public, both to restrict their movement and illustrate to others that they are a threat to society. Sterilization surgery is mandated and any child born to an immigrant after the date of this legislation is to be euthanized”

Right now as you sit there with your coffee you are thinking “that’s ridiculous! That would never happen!” However, there is not much difference between the above false news report and the actions of the McGuinty government 7 years ago in respect to pitbulls. You just don’t see it that way because BSL targets dogs not humans, but I assure you the comparison is a viable one. I say this because what the McGuinty government has done is condemn the many to punish the few.

Now those of us with a little common sense are saying, “Hey! Wait a minute! You can not condemn an entire race because of the actions of one dog! That’s ridiculous, it’s like saying all black’s are criminals, or all Mexicans are illegal immigrants, or all Italians are members of the Mob. It’s racial bias at the very least. When you take that one step further and say that any offspring of those races will be terminated before being given a chance to live, well my friends, that would be genocide at it’s finest.

So ask yourselves this;

What if…

…you attended a rally even though you didn’t have a dog, simply because you don’t believe the Government should play God?

What if…

…you wrote a letter to your MPP expressing your support for Bill 16 because you don’t believe in profiling based on looks or nationality (breed if you will)?

What if…

…for once in your life you took a stand, instead of waiting for someone else to change the world?

What if…

…YOU joined us?

Have an informed opinion, do a little research. Don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself. No matter what conclusion you come to, please at least come to it by examining the legitimate facts. Don’t follow the crowd simply because it seems like the thing to do. That’s all we ask, well no not really, I also ask that you understand no one is asking you to fall in love with pitbulls. We are not saying you have to accept one into your home. What we are saying is simply this, it is neither humane nor logical to eradicate one breed because dogs bite. We are saying that responsibility for ALL dogs must be placed squarely on the shoulders of the dog owner. We are saying that blanket breed bans are not the answer. Neither is killing off a specific breed.

Indulge me for one moment if you will, let us look at other species of animal for a moment here. For example, there are people who keep caged lions and tigers on their property. Now while I do not agree with this, as I believe wild animals should not be used as roadside attractions, the fact remains that these people are held responsible for what those animals do. The Government has not banned and killed these animals, yet feels the need to ban and kill a domesticated dog? How do we hold the exotic animal owner responsible for their dangerous animal, but ban the pitbull istead of putting the responsibility on the owner?

What if…

…you had an original thought?

Just saying!



They WILL Learn to Love My Pibble…if it kills me!

Seven years into the fight against BSL, seven years of saying “it is not the breed it’s the owner,” and still so many people don’t get it! Just the other day while I was walking with my “significantly similar” dog Miss Niki “Pibble” Hamilton, I was confronted by a woman walking her dog the other way on the waterfront. This woman had picked up her yapping Shihtzu, and holding it (just barely) in her arms rounded on me saying “That’s a pitbull isn’t it? Of course it is! Why else would you have it muzzled?” (Notice she did not pause in her tirade to await an answer to her question) She then went on to say “I think it is just disgusting that people like YOU are allowed to keep dogs like HER! They should have confiscated them all and killed ’em!”

Now a lot of you would be shocked at the vehemence in this woman’s voice as she spoke to me, but I am used to it, this is nothing new. Niki has been mistaken for a pitbull more than once, but this is the first time I have been spoken to in this fashion, and lumped in as “bad” along with my dog. Normally, people pass to the other side of the street when they see us coming. I don’t like it, but I’ve learned to ignore it. Sometimes people will say things like “how can you own a pitbull, they are vicious you know!” When that happens I educate them as best I can and move on. This time however, I had no intention of walking away, and the question of educating this woman’s ignorance was obviously a mute point.

“People like ME? Really? And just exactly, what do you mean by ‘people like me’?” I snapped. “Do you mean a female business owner, who volunteers her time to charity, trains unwanted dogs to live in the average dog ignorant home, and is a responsible owner of eight dogs, and the founder of an all breed dog rescue organization?” She said nothing.

“Dogs like HER?” I said pointing at Niki. “By that do you mean? A dog who is trained to train other dogs? A dog who, right now while your out of control Shihtzu snaps, barks, and growls, doing everything it can think of to escape your grasp and bite me, is calmly laying in the down stay position I put her in when I saw you approaching? A dog that is so well controlled by her owner that she refuses to react to the unbalanced behavior of your “safe” breed? Hmmmm, how interesting. No Ma’am going on behavior right at this moment, perhaps it is YOUR dogs breed which should of been banned!”

Well! You would think I had suggested that the ground open up and swallow her whole! She let out with a tirade! Niki and I, having had quite enough of both dog and owners irrational behavior turned and walked away, leaving the ranting woman and her out of control Shihtzu to their own devices. We talked it over on the way home, and we decided that it’s true, you can’t fix STUPID, we also agreed that won’t stop us from trying! We are now in the process of introducing my “vicious” dog to the local merchants. One person at a time we will make Barrie, Ontario understand and love pitbulls, or die trying!

Have a great week everybody!



Is BSL Corrupting Our Children?

I live in Ontario, the land of the McGuinty government, and BSL. Now anyone who knows me is well aware that I have been fighting this legislation since about five minutes after its inception, but most are not aware of the myriad of reasons why. Sure there are the obvious reasons, BSL kills good dogs, and is an unfair piece of legislation that holds animals responsible for the actions of a few bad owners, but there are far more reasons beyond that to fight BSL.

I think that one of the main reasons besides the obvious for me, would be the message BSL legislation is sending to our children. Lets think about this for just one minute folks. I mean we spend our children’s formative years trying to teach them not to judge a book by its cover. We try to make them understand that discrimination because of skin color, race, religion, or nationality is wrong, then we go and pass a legislation that teaches them exactly the opposite.

Now some factions would have you believe I am being ridiculous, they would say that this is different we are talking about animals not humans, but really the concept is no different. How do we make that distinction, have we not taught our children since birth that right is right and wrong is wrong, and that they should never judge until they have evaluated? Now we are supposed to teach them that those rules only apply to humans? Isn’t this a confusing message? Is this legislation not reducing animals to the status of inanimate objects? Is it not teaching our children that we as a society eradicate that which we can not control or understand?

We have spent years teaching our children to respect life, and now the government wants us to tell them they are only to respect the life of human beings? That it’s okay to discriminate against animals? Great, wonderful, lets teach the next generation that they only need to respect human life. Let’s create an entire generation of people who do not care about the lives of animals! Let’s go backwards thanks to the Ontario government. Alright, I know, I’m ranting, but in my defense, how is this progress?

Another question you have to ask yourself is this, if the Ontario government succeeds in convincing our children that the lives of animals are not important, and that it is okay to wipe out breeds society deems undesirable, how long will it be before disrespect for all life becomes the norm. How long will it be before this new generation sees themselves as God, eradicating species they think the world would do better without?

When we fight BSL we are not only doing it for our beloved pets, but for the morality of our children as well. So before you say “BSL doesn’t affect me or my family” think about the message breed discrimination is sending to our children, and join our fight for that reason if for no other!

Punish the DEED not the BREED!



On the Subject of Pitbulls…or…my Father’s Legacy

My first sad memory of one of these dogs was when I was two years old. Most of us don’t remember things from that early on in life, but the memory is clear. My Father and a neighbor man carrying our dead dog into the garage from the street. She had been hit by a city bus when the neighbor accidentally left the garden gate open. I was very young but I will never forget that sight, it was the day I lost my first best friend. A year later my family would emigrate to Canada and it would be years before anyone would have another Staffordshire Terrier.

Judy was a loyal and gentle dog, well trained and socialized. My Father knew the breed well and kept her in line with a firm but gentle hand. She was never aggressive, but always protective and everywhere I went she followed, never leaving my side while I played in the yard or slept in my carriage on the front steps.

It was memories of that very first dog that had me petting every dog I saw, and occasionally getting bit for my troubles, by dogs not trained as well as my Father’s were. It was those dogs not trained as well as my Father’s were that made it clear to me that training and keeping a dog of this breed was not an easy task. It was  at about age 16 that I decided that if I was going to keep dogs I had to learn to raise them with a firm but gentle hand as my Father had before me. He taught me everything he knew, and I was glad of the lessons.

“These dogs” my Father said,”they can be the most loyal companions on the face of the planet, or they can be a force of nature, how they turn out is all up to you! Treat them with loving kindness and be their leader and they will never give you a moments trouble!” He then proceeded to teach me how to be their leader, but more importantly he taught me to respect their power, and always be in control. Those were some of the most important lessons I would ever learn, for I did not know it at the time but years later that knowledge would be instrumental in saving the lives of many abandoned, abused and misunderstood animals.

My Father taught me much more than just how to raise a dog, he taught me to respect their power, and he taught me to understand that I was responsible for the actions of my pets. Whatever they did, it was my job to see that they did not hurt anyone and that their behavior was socially acceptable. He taught me to be a responsible dog owner.

I have carried the memory of those lessons with me ever since. Every time I take in a difficult rescue I ask myself “How would Dad have dealt with this?” Somehow the answer always comes to me, somehow I always know what to do.

Dad is gone now, cancer took him from us three years ago, but the lessons he taught and the responsibility he instilled in me lives on. If Dad were here today he would be standing and fighting for these dogs with all of us, for he truly believed that a dog is what you make it, and it is your responsibility to make it a good dog! He would have agreed with all of us that a dogs breed does not make it mean or aggressive, but what that dog lives with can. He would have agreed with us that all owners should be held responsible for the actions of their pets, and that when dealing with problem dogs one merely has to look to the human end of the leash.

Every time I attend a rally or pick up another difficult rescue, I remember my Father and the lessons he taught about responsible pet ownership. My Father taught me that it is never the breed, and always the treatment. I will stand and fight with you all for the lives of our dogs because that is what my Father would want me to do. He always taught me to choose my battles wisely and fight for something I truly believed in until I had no more fight left in me . He always taught me to think for myself, which is why I never fell victim to the pitbull propoganda spread by the media. Some days when I think about what we all have gone through to save our breed, I wish that everyone could see for themselves what my Father taught me about these dogs. They are not monsters, unless turned into such by men. Society has given them a bad rap and now it is up to those of us that understand them to make others see their true nature!

I guess what I am saying here today is this, it is high time that the Ontario government held the dog owner responsible for the actions of his or her dog, instead of condemning the dog for the owners irresponsible behavior. We are well aware that a child learns what it lives, the same can be said of an animal. Why should we continue to allow the government of Ontario to blame good dogs for the actions of bad people. Why should our pitbulls continue to carry the burden of responsibility for the actions of bad owners?

That’s just it, they shouldn’t!

Have you hugged your pibble today?