Monday, November 28, 2005

McGuinty defends ban on newborn puppies

940 Montreal
Premier McGuinty defends ban as pit bull puppies become illegal at 17:41 on November 28, 2005, EST.
TORONTO (CP) - The province's ban on pit bulls is a "matter of public safety," Premier Dalton McGuinty said Monday as the second phase of the law took effect to make pit bull puppies illegal - and facing a potential death sentence.
The second part of the ban means all pit bull puppies born from now on must be destroyed, given to a research facility, or shipped out of the province.
"Not only was it wise and good public policy, in terms of safety and security, it's also ... one of the most popular things our government has done - just so you know where the majority of the public stands on this issue," McGuinty told Hamilton radio station CHML.
The province "consulted long and hard" on this issue, he said.
The first part of the ban, which came into effect at the end of August, required all pit bulls to be leashed, muzzled and sterilized. Dogs already in the province are grandfathered.
Breeders have resorted to shipping their breeding dogs or puppies out of the province to avoid the ban, while humane societies have warned they'll be forced to euthanize pit bull puppies simply for being born.
Jennifer Windh, founding director of Barlee's Angels animal rescue, which focuses on finding homes for pit bulls, said some dogs are being sent out west, but there are few homes available.
"It's a drop in the bucket," Windh said. "My guess would be that for every one they can find a spot for outside of Ontario, there's probably another thousand that won't."
"It's not really an option, so they're going to be put down, like they already are."
Another problem is that some puppies will be identified as pit bulls, even if they aren't, since their features aren't fully developed until later in life, Windh said.
"Any dog they think is a pit bull is going to be put down," she said.
The government implemented the ban after a spate of vicious attacks by pit bulls on people and other dogs.
Windh and others dispute the figures on attacks since many dogs are mistakenly identified as pit bulls.
The law faces a constitutional challenge led by famed defence lawyer Clayton Ruby, who has called the ban "unconstitutionally vague" and "overly broad."
The government won't sit back and watch the law get attacked, McGuinty said Monday.
"We'll do whatever is necessary to ensure that we can protect the legislation and thereby protect the public," he said.
The ban outlaws pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers, and any dog "that has an appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to any of those dogs."

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