Ottawa man attacked by pit bull; councillor wants changes to law
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | 10:35 AM ET Comments36Recommend14
A weekend dog attack on a 21-year-old man in Ottawa has raised questions about how an Ontario law that restricts pit bulls is being enforced.
The man underwent surgery after the dog tore at both his arms early Saturday near Caldwell Avenue and Medford Street, said an Ottawa police news release.
The dog, described as a pit bull mix, attacked the man after he called to it to try to distract it from lunging at his girlfriend, who had been encouraged to pet the dog by the woman who owned it, the release said.
The owner was unable to hold on to the dog's leash. The man tried to fight the dog off, but it did not release him until police arrived and struck it with a baton.
The dog then lunged at the officer, who shot it in the face and the shoulder, causing it to run away, the release said.
The animal was later captured and put down by a veterinarian, it said.
'If you muzzle a dog, it's telling the dog there's something wrong with it.'—Squibs Mercier, pit bull owner
Ottawa city Coun. Bob Monette said the attack points to problems with enforcement of Ontario's pit-bull law.
He had earlier called on the province to amend a law that bans people from owning pit bulls, and requires anyone who already owns such a dog to keep it leashed and muzzled outdoors.
Under Ontario law, a pit bull is:
* A pit bull terrier
* A Staffordshire bull terrier
* An American Staffordshire terrier
* An American pit bull terrier
* A dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to any of those dogs.
"We're seeing too many pit bulls off-leash," Monette said, adding that the problem is that the law can currently only be enforced by a sentence imposed by a court, usually after an attack. Technically, the penalty could include jail time or a fine of up to $10,000.
But Monette said owners should be hit with smaller fines of around $200 for not leashing or muzzling their dogs, even if no attack has taken place.
Attacks typically result in the dog being put down, which Monette called a "pretty drastic" measure.
"Really, it's the fault of irresponsible owners and [the dogs] don't get a second chance," he said.
Monette said he has forwarded his suggestion to the province.
Owner won't muzzle bull terrier
Pit bull owner Squibs Mercier is standing by the dogs and refuses to muzzle her own.
"If you muzzle a dog, it's telling the dog there's something wrong with it," said Mercier, who is trying to fight the law.
She is working with a group of animal rights activists who have hired a lawyer to meet with provincial officials in September.
Ontario's pit bull ban was introduced in 2004.
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2 ... 80805.html
Bless the Bullys