DOG OWNERS' RIGHTS IN CANADA

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Expert Recommendations (AVMA)

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Task Force on Canine Aggression produced “A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention”:
  • Co-ordinate and centralize dog bite reporting.
  • Control unrestrained animals.
  • Thoroughly investigate all dog bite incidents.
  • Properly identify and regulate dangerous dogs.
  • Educate using public officials, professionals, veterinarians, dog trainers and behaviourists, physicians and nurses, animal control personnel, shelter personnel.
  • Educate the public, children, adults, seniors, animal owners, victims, businesses.
  • Use the media (news releases, interviews, talk shows, public affairs programs, editorials, PSA’s) to educate.

 

Click here to read the recommendations (PDF)

 


Inquest Recommendations (Courtney Trempe)

In Stouffville Ontario in 1998, eight-year-old Courtney was killed by a neighbour's bullmastiff while playing in the backyard.  The resulting jury inquest produced 35 recommendations (very few have been implemented in any meaningful way):
  • 13 were related to education, including through elementary schools, children's television programming, media information articles, veterinarians, municipal Education Officers, breeders, and web sites. Also suggested was a required course for dog owners.
  • 8 were related to enforcement, including significant changes to the Dog Owners Liability Act including increases in fines, tighter control of dogs while court cases are pending, and prohibition of dog ownership for owners whose dogs bite.
  • 7 were related to data reporting, including a centralized provincial bite reporting database, a centralized dog licensing database, the tracking of dog owners as they move, and behavioural and physical testing of dogs that have bitten.
  • 4 were related to regulation of breeders and shelters, including a certification process, elimination of puppy mills, and mandatory spay/neuter of adopted dogs.
  • 1 was related to provincial financial support for programs.
  • 2 were related to federal involvement in analysis of data from Canada and from other countries.

Courtney's mother, Donna, testified at the Ontario committee hearings on Bill 132, pointing out that banning "pit bulls" would not have saved her daughter from being killed.

 

Click here to read the inquest recommendations.

 


Inquest Recommendations (James Waddell)

In New Brunswick in 2003, four-year-old James was killed by three Rottweilers in his father's backyard. The number of potential risks ignored by his father and by authorities leading up to his death is staggering.  The coroner's inquest, headed by Dr. Norma Guy, produced 26 recommendations:
  • 5 were to parents (education), including teaching of children about behaviour around dogs, socializing of dogs, supervision of children and dogs, and positive methods of dog training.
  • 6 were to municipalities (regulation and enforcement), including increasing licence fees, mandatory microchipping of loose dogs, restricting ownership of dogs by irresponsible owners, and managing dogs whose previous behaviour indicates that they could be a bigger problem in the future.
  • 7 were to health professionals such as physicians, pediatricians, and public health nurses (education and data reporting), including the recognition that dog bites a largely preventable event, rather than an accident, education of children and parents especially those with dogs, and proper documentation and reporting of dog bites.
  • 8 were to veterinarians (education), including education of dog owners, neutering, euthanasia for aggression, data reporting, and opposing breeding that ignores temperament issues.

 

Click here to read the inquest recommendations.

 


Enforcement

  • Many existing “dangerous dog” laws provide significant repercussions for irresponsible ownership
  • Toronto has $255 fine for running dogs off leash – very rarely enforced due to staffing issues and, when it is enforced, judges reduce the fine
  • Toronto has $5,000 fine for biting dogs – don’t know of any case where that has been applied
  • Ontario Dog Owner’s Liability Act makes dog owner financially liable unless dog was provoked or protecting owner against a criminal act
  • Negligence (e.g., repeated biting offences or repeated disregard for human safety) could be prosecuted under existing criminal laws
  • If enforced, all of these could provide deterrent for irresponsible owners

 


Education - Children

  • Schools are the most logical place to educate children on dog bite awareness.
  • Example: we teach children to “stop, drop, and roll”. How many children will ever use that advice? 50% of all children will be bitten before their 12th birthday. 90% of those are from dogs they own or know.
  • More than half of the deaths in Canada were from children approaching confined dogs without supervision.
  • Teachers can teach children as part of other programmes.
  • Special visitors (such as police, veterinarians, dog trainers, dog bite specialists) can hold bite awareness “seminars”.
  • Videos can be distributed throughout schools.
  • Children’s television programming can discuss dog bites.

 


Education – Parents

  • NUMBER ONE: VETERINARIANS – where better for a parent with a dog and a child to learn about dog/child safety?
  • Family doctors
  • Hospital emergency rooms
  • Dog trainers
  • Breeders, rescue organizations, pet stores
  • Pamphlets at cash registers in pet stores and children’s stores (Toys ‘R’ Us)
  • Web sites

 


Education - Public

  • MEDIA
    • Television and radio – public service announcements
    • Newspapers – dog bite safety tips, especially after a dog bite report
    • Magazine articles (such as Today’s Parent)
  • City sponsored events such as “Dog Bite Awareness Week”
  • Dog owners should be required to take a course in pet ownership and responsibility
  • Dog trainers and breeders should discuss dog ownership responsibility with new dog owners

     

 

Updated September 26, 2007

 


This website is not affiliated with any organization.  The opinions expressed on this page and on this website are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of any organization for which the author may work or volunteer.


Back to Previous Page © Copyright 2008 Steve Barker