Petitioning Justin Trudeau for federal ANTI-BSL legislation
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Right Honorable Justin Trudeau,
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has been in place in Ontario for more than 11 years, and in other cities and municipalities throughout Canada for far too long. Although there has been no demonstrated reduction in dog bites or attacks, it continues to be enforced throughout the province as well as the country. “Pit bulls” are not even a breed of dog; they are a type, mostly characterized by a square head, strong muscular build and short hair. Statistically, less than 2% of dog bites and/or attacks come from pit bull type dogs, yet thousands have still needlessly been put to death.
Experts throughout the world, including but not limited to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the American Bar Association, the Canadian Kennel Club, the Montreal SPCA, the Toronto SPCA, the American Veterinary Association, the Canadian Veterinary Association, and even the White House to name but a few, have all agreed that BSL is a costly, ineffective, lazy policy making alternative to making cost effective laws with the protection and safety of the public, as well as the dogs, in mind. Experts all have also repeatedly confirmed that determining the breed of a dog by visual identification is virtually impossible, even for trained professionals, and have scientifically proven that rebuttals such as “pit bull type dogs have locking jaws” and “pit bull type dogs have aggressiveness bred into their genes” are completely false and uneducated statements.
There has been no statistical evidence that BSL has worked in any of the thousands of cities and municipalities where it has been enforced in throughout the world. The enforcement of BSL means that many well behaved dogs of certain breeds are included in prejudicial laws, while many poorly behaved dogs of other breeds are excluded. In the city of Ottawa alone, there is an estimated 100,000 dogs, with 450 dog bites reported on average per year. Less than 2% of these bites come from pit bull type dogs, therefore statistically proving that pit bulls are actually far less likely to bite than many other dogs.This essentially translates into a false sense of security for unsuspecting citizens, who believe that because one specific breed of dog is banned, they are at little to no risk of being involved in a dog attack or bite. This is not only unfair to unsuspecting citizens; it is unfair to responsible owners and their dogs. BSL has also proven to be very costly to enforce, in some cities upwards to $1,000,000 per year of tax payer money. In the $1,000,000 per year that is spent on enforcing BSL, such as animal boarding, court proceedings, expensive DNA testing, euthanization of innocent dogs, etc. 99% of the time BSL is being enacted on well looked after and well loved family pets, who have never posed a threat to the public or anyone else in its life.
Many people rely on their dogs for not only companionship, but also for their health. Dogs, such as service dogs to the blind and companion dogs to those suffering from mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, are a key element to the continued independent living of their owners and play a vital role in their wellbeing. At the United Nations General Assembly, you quoted “To reject others because they look differently than we do (is wrong)”. Does this statement also apply to people who rely on their dog, regardless of the breed, to survive? Should their dogs be removed due to a breed specific law, these people will end up being a danger to society and/or themselves without their dogs, and their mental and physical wellbeing would be in great jeopardy.
Assuming that all dogs of a certain appearance are inherently dangerous is no more logical than applying the same thoughts and prejudices to humans. In French there is not even a word for “breed”, the closest word being “race”. Does this in turn mean that BSL really is nothing more than Canine Racism? Let’s apply this to the citizens of Canada: Does being homosexual make you more or less worthy than a heterosexual? Does being a woman make you more or less important than being a man? Does being a Syrian fleeing the terror of their home land make you more or less of a human being than being a rich Caucasian Canadian? If you answered no to these questions, ask yourself this question: Is a golden Retriever more worthy of your love than an American Staffordshire Terrier? Is a poodle inheritantly going to provide you more love and loyalty than a Bull Terrier? Is your Bulldog more or less likely to bite than my American Pit Bull Terrier? If you can’t answer these questions with 100% certainty, how can you support the enforcement of this law?
You also recently stated that “In Canada we got a very important thing right: In Canada we see diversity as a source of strength, not weakness and our country is strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them.” If we apply this logic, in the same way that there is no room in Canada for bigotry and racism towards each other, there is also no room for racism in Canada towards a dog based on its appearance. To more people than can be counted, the hypocrisy of Canada’s claims to be compassionate and diverse while supporting the largest breed ban in North America has Canadians across the country deeply ashamed of the place that they call home. We must stand by our words and reject discrimination and injustice in all forms.
In many of your public speeches, you frequently use the word "compassion". Compassion is not limited to treatment of humans; it is the treatment of all sentient beings, which according to recent court ruling, includes dogs. Canadians have always fought for those who can't fight for themselves: now we are fighting for those who can't even speak for themselves. In 2016, legislated hate, racism or prejudice is disgusting and a scar to the value of compassion that Canadians hold very dear.
With the immense examples of scientific data available, the statistics from areas where BSL has failed, and the enormous success of cities and municipalities with breed neutral laws, we the undersigned demand that you propose a federal bill which would enact federal anti-BSL legislation, ensuring that dangerous dogs are targeted by their acts and not their appearance. You promised to fight for the people of Canada and listen to their concerns during your campaign, and that you would be a fair and honorable Prime Minister. Will you listen to your citizens now as they ask for your help to save their families? Will you stand up for the Canadian citizens fighting depression, anxiety, PTSD and multiple other forms of mental disorders who require their service dogs regardless of their breed? Will you prevent the heartbreak of families losing their beloved pets to nothing more than prejudicial and lazy law making? It is time that we abolish and prohibit breed specific legislation in Canada so we can all once again be proud of our deep Canadian values built on equality and compassion and once again feel safe in the country that prides itself on peace, diversity and acceptance.
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