This past Saturday I headed out to Heritage Park in Barrie, Ontario for the Global Anti BSL Walk. I grabbed my camera and left the dogs at home. I figured I wanted to capture as many pictures as possible during the walk, and that Nikki, as old and pudgy as she is would prefer to be left home on such a warm sunny summer afternoon. She like all short haired black dogs, does not do well in hot weather.
To say we were a small group is almost an embellishment. Soon after we met in the parking lot we realized there were only four of us, and two dogs, and there weren’t going to be any more than that. Just the four of us and two dogs, and our resolve to fight something we think is wrong. We’ve been fighting for so long we know each other and each other’s dogs even though the only thing that connects us is the fight against BSL.
Out in the non dog world, when only four people show up for a “global” protest of something, they stare at each other for a while until someone says “forget it. Let’s call it a day and go have a beer!” Not us! We headed out for a walk with the aggressive unmuzzled Jack Russel/Chihuahua, and the muzzled marshmallow of a pit bull in search of anyone who would talk to us about this draconian legislation.
While at first I was disappointed that more people hadn’t come out to represent for their dogs, (I’m used to the large groups that attend Toronto rallies, and I guess I expected the same sort of response here in my hometown.) it wasn’t long before I realized that despite our small numbers, the two dogs were the perfect pair to illustrate the ridiculousness of this legislation. The pit bull (the BANNED breed) was shyly greeting people, at times even hesitant to approach them, and he never once gave out a growl, a bark, or showed any signs of aggression whatsoever. The small cross breed (a dog people deem “safe” because it isn’t a pit bull) spent his time snapping and snarling at anyone who even dared to look in his direction. The small breed dog owner warned people off as they approached, the pit bull owner welcomed them in encouraging them to meet her dog.
These two dogs could not have illustrated more perfectly that we can not base a dog’s bite probability solely on breed alone. Here we had a pit bull, a dog which according to the Ontario government is genetically predisposed to aggression, a breed BANNED for the “safety of the public,” and he was as calm as a lamb, friendly, and at times shy, but never once aggressive in any way. The small cross breed dog on the other hand…well, he hated everyone, and had multiple incidents of aggressive behavior when approached. These two dogs clearly illustrated that breed has nothing to do with aggression.
Throughout the afternoon I watched as several people along the waterfront walked around the muzzled pit bull with caution and approached the smaller dog only to be stopped in their tracks by a snarl and a warning from the dog’s owner that he didn’t play well with others. This confused a few people and gave us an opportunity to talk to them about Ontario’s BSL and why it doesn’t work.
These two dogs in fact are the personification of the reasons why BSL does not work. The small breed dog owner is a perfect example of why we always say that responsible dog ownership is the only way to prevent dog bites. She knows her dog’s temperament, and she is conscious of where he is at all times, and always ready to warn strangers off when they try to approach her dog. She controls access to a dog she knows is volatile. She’s a responsible dog owner.
We have known for years that what we need in place of BSL are Dangerous Dog Laws that put the responsibility on the dog owner, and not on the dog. On Saturday our canine companions helped us to get that message across to everyone we met on our walk. DEED not BREED!
In just over a month BSL will have been in effect in Ontario for twelve years. That’s twelve years that innocent dogs have been restricted in public and demonized in the media. Twelve years for the government to realize that this legislation has done absolutely nothing to prevent dog bites from happening. Twelve years in which we the pit bull community have watched our dogs die off until few are left. When will this madness end?
If you would like to learn more about the fight against BSL in Ontario hop on over to the Ontario Pit Bull Co-op page on Facebook.
Until Next Time Remember,
WE ARE THEIR ONLY VOICE!