It’s the first crack in the dam of what could be a very big legal flood.
An Ontario Superior Court Justice has struck down parts of the province’s controversial pitbull law.
The legislation, which bans the breeds outright in Ontario, has been bitterly opposed by advocates who claim only irresponsible owners are to blame for problems with the dogs.
The court ruled two key parts of the law, including the definition of what a pit bull is, are unconstitutional. And the jurist found using a veterinarian to prove a dog’s breed also violates the law.
Despite the outcome, the Attorney General – who pressed so hard to get the new legislation passed – insists 99 percent of the rules are still in place and that the vast majority of the law stands.
“This means that the law continues, which means no more pit bulls in Ontario,” contends Michael Bryant. “No pit bulls sold, bred or imported into the province of Ontario.
“People should continue to leash and muzzle their pit bulls; pit bulls are banned are in Ontario, and that has been upheld by the Ontario Superior Court.
“Pit bulls remain banned, the purebred definitions of pit bulls are banned, anything substantially similar to those purebreds are banned.”
But it appears the lawyers for the other side are far from satisfied by this judgment.
“We saved ‘pit bull terriers’ but not the other breeds,” a statement from Clayton Ruby’s law firm reads. “We made it impossible for the Crown to prove its case with a piece of paper signed by a veterinarian.”
They vow to continue to appeal until they get the law quashed or changed.
Ontario Pit Bull Law
What breeds are included?
American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers or any other breeds sharing ‘substantially similar’ characteristics
When did it take effect?
It was in full force on Friday, October 28, 2005.
What are the regulations?
The amendments to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA) bar people from owning, breeding, transferring, importing, or abandoning pit bulls.
Pit bulls kept legally after the ban have been ‘grandfathered’, and will be allowed to stay for the rest of their lives.
Pit bull owners must have their dogs leashed and muzzled in public and sterilized. Additionally, owners aren’t allowed to train them to fight, and can’t let them stray.
The only time a muzzle isn’t required is when the dog is on the owner’s property, or on another person’s property if they consent to the muzzle’s removal.
Muzzles should be humane, but strong enough to prevent the animal from biting without interfering with its ability to breathe, pant, see, or drink.
The leash must not exceed 1.8 metres.
What are the penalties if laws are broken?
$10,000 fine ($60,000 for corporations) and/or
Six months imprisonment and/or
The court could order the person convicted to compensate the victim and/or
The animal could be taken away or destroyed
The law stipulates that the owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack regardless of whether the owner is at fault or negligent.
Courtesy Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General