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Ontario campaigners plan legal fight-back

A COALITION of organisations dedicated to fighting the Ontario ban on pit bulls under the umbrella ‘Banned Aid’ announced Monday that they have retained renowned Toronto lawyer, Clayton Ruby, to assist in their efforts.

Mr. Ruby is a partner with Ruby & Edwards in Toronto, Ontario. Since being called to the Bar in 1969, Mr. Ruby has maintained an extensive criminal, constitutional and administrative law practice. Throughout his career, Mr. Ruby has served as counsel in numerous high profile human rights, aboriginal and criminal cases.

The coalition retaining Mr. Ruby currently includes five organisations:

* The Dog Legislation Council of Canada,
* Advocates for the Underdog,
* The Golden Horseshoe American Pit Bull Terrier Club,
* The American Staffordshire Terrier Club of Canada, and,
* The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Canada.

Banned Aid has already received support from responsible dog owners across Canada and numerous breed clubs opposed to the Ontario government's proposed breed ban. The coalition expects a number of other groups to join with them by the end of the week, including other breed clubs, veterinary associations, kennel clubs, and humane societies.

"Most people believe that this legislation is just about pit bulls", says Steve Barker, Ontario Director of the DLCC. "We are hoping to make it clear that this proposed legislation seriously affects every dog owner, regardless of the breed they own.

"It is our opinion, based on precedent and on the experiences of other countries, that this legislation, even if passed by the Liberal Government, is doomed to failure in a court of law. We feel that it is irresponsible of the province to expect the Ontario taxpayer to foot the bill for this when history tells them that the law will fail."

l The Dog Legislation Council of Canada is a Canada-wide non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting responsible dog ownership, assisting communities in creating accountability for dog owners, and educating the public in dog-bite awareness. For more information, please contact: Steve Barker, Ontario Director, Dog Legislation Council of Canada - on director@ doglegislationcouncilcanada.org Website: http://www.doglegislation councilcanada.org/

The media changes tack again

AS THE campaign to fight the Ontario Government’s proposed breed specific laws grows with the formation of a coalition of organsations dedicated to legally challenged Attorney General Michael Bryant’s BSL Bill there has been a small, but noticeable, shift in the stance against ‘pit bulls’ taken by the Ontario media.

A recent Leader article published in CityPulse 24, Toronto’s main online news service, shows that BSL may not be such a good idea after all…

If pit bulls are infamous for being tenacious fighters, they have nothing on their owners. The dog lovers are pledging to battle the Ontario government tooth and tail on its proposed ban against the breed.

CityPulse has learned prominent lawyer Clay Ruby has been retained by a coalition of dog clubs and owners to fight the coming law. And they’re prepared to take it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Their major complaint? The bill as written includes any large or aggressive dog that’s not even related to a pit bull. And it gives law enforcement officials special powers to enter your home and remove or destroy a menacing canine they perceive as dangerous.

"Michael Bryant has put in a number of things into this legislation that don't have anything to do with pit bulls per se but have to do with things like menacing behaviour, which he hasn't defined," notes Steve Barker of the Dog Legislation Council of Ontario. "It's so undefined and so vague that … neighbour-to-neighbour issues can turn into legal issues and turn into your dog being confiscated."

The groups – including the Canadian Kennel Club, the O.S.P.C.A., the Toronto and Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Animal Alliance - all say Bryant never talked to them when he was considering the rule changes.

Instead, he simply went with an easily alarmed public, victims of dog attacks and police.
"He's going down the wrong path," avers Dr. Timothy Zaharchuk, the president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. "I think this is an illegal conceived piece of legislation as it stands, that if he had taken the time to consult the experts, we could put forward something more meaningful."

But Bryant defends his law, noting he’s doing what the majority agrees is the right thing.
Yet when CityPulse asked him to pick out a pit bull from a choice of 20, he couldn’t do it. "The point here is that, you know, you don't ask a Health Minister to be the surgeon," he defends.

"You don't ask an Attorney General to be the dog expert … The bottom line is it's going to be up to the experts."

But it’s those very experts who claim it hasn’t been left up to them at all.

*With thanks to CityPulse 24