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Report on restricting dogs by breed

Report on restricting dogs by breed

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Potential for Restricting Dogs by Breed

Recommendation: That the March 19, 2012, Community Services report 2012CST003, be received for information. Report Summary This report provides information on restricted breeds and potential changes to the Animal Control Bylaw 13145, as well as breed specific legislation across Canada. Previous Council/Committee Action At the November 14, 2011, Community Services Committee meeting, the following motion was passed: 1. That Administration provide a report to Community Services Committee outlining: a. potential changes to the Animal Control Bylaw regarding the potential for restricting dogs by breed b. information regarding breed specific municipal and provincial legislation across Canada Report • As Council considers possible changes to existing breed specific legislation, this report provides history and perspective on developments across Canada. In 1987, City Council took steps to restrict ownership of certain breeds by adding a breed specific section to the existing dog bylaw. In 2003, there was discussion within City Council to add other dog breeds

known to have higher instances of bites, as well as place an outright ban on some. Ultimately, City Council decided not to make any changes. Arguments for breed specific legislation have remained consistent for the past thirty years and focus on public safety, a track record of violence against people and the suggestion that certain mixed breeds have a particularly aggressive and stubborn instinct. Arguments against breed specific legislation suggest there are significant difficulties determining breed, and breed type on appearance, thus, any breed ban inevitably results in the creation of subjective, arbitrary factors to determine breed type. There are many contributing factors to most dog bite incidents, including poor breeding practices, inadequate socialization and training, health or behavioural issues, and inadequate supervision and/or control of the dog. Bylaws that are breed neutral and ensure that aggressive dogs (regardless of breed) are not a continued threat to public safety, are the most consistent and fair approach, Attachment 1. Administration’s research across ten major municipalities in Canada, shows a five to five split on either having or not having breed specific restrictions or bans. There appears to be no trend either towards or away from breed specific legislation. There are as many jurisdictions that are considering implementing the legislation as there are jurisdictions working towards eliminating it, Attachment 2. Within the expert literature on dogs, there is a shift in recent years

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ROUTING – Community Services Committee | DELEGATION – D. Aitken WRITTEN BY – K. Scott | March 19, 2012 – Community Services 2012CST003 Page 1 of 2

Potential for Restricting Dogs by Breed towards a more behavioural perspective. Experts have a much better understanding of canine behaviour and social development. Consequently, there are today, many more models, theories, and tests on canine behaviour that suggest dogs are not born violent, but are made violent through irresponsible owners. “Behaviour not breed” is a motto commonly communicated. Administration approached seven major companion animal stakeholders for their position on breed specific legislation. All seven groups; the Canadian Kennel Club, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Dog Legislation Council of Canada, Canadian and Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, Edmonton Humane Society, and Pitbulls for Life Foundation of Alberta, were not in support of breed specific legislation, Attachment 3. Unfortunately, measuring the effectiveness of breed specific legislation across Canada is hampered by data source inconsistency, no central reporting system, no distinction between bite severity, or the verification of attack complaints by restricted breed. As an example, in 2011, two Edmonton citizen complaints of Pit Bull attacks were found to be carried out by a Border Collie and a Boxer. Edmonton bite statistics list the German Shepherd, then Retriever/Lab, Rottweiler, Boxer, Border Collie, Huskies and Pit Bull as the top seven biters in 2011. As a percentage of the total number of licensed breeds to the number of bite incidents, the Pit Bull, Husky and Rottweiler are ranked as the top three breeds involved in bites, Attachment 4. • The use of statistics to support any option over another has some inherent problems as many bite incidents go unreported, unverified, or the total number of dogs of a given breed are not accurate. The variables of enforcement practices, resourcing, and staff numbers can easily skew conclusions drawn from data (including Edmonton). It seems there are municipal examples where breed specific legislation has had a positive impact to reduce bites and as many that show no reduction.

Potential changes to the Animal Licensing and Control Bylaw The following are options for consideration: 1. Eliminate All Breed Specific Legislation or 2. Maintain the Status Quo Corporate Outcomes The Way We Live – Improve Edmonton’s Livability as a vibrant, connected, engaged, welcoming community and safe city. Public Consultation A group of companion animal industry stakeholders were consulted and provided feedback for Council review and consideration. Attachments 1. Background 2. Breed Specific Legislation Comparison 3. Stakeholder Position Statements 4. Edmonton Statistics

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Attachment 1 Background In 1987, City Council took steps to restrict ownership of certain breeds of dog by adding a new section to the existing dog bylaw. In 2002, more than a decade later, Edmonton City Council passed a new comprehensive Animal Licensing and Control Bylaw # 13145 and amongst other things, added to the bylaw was clarification of which dogs may be defined as restricted. In 2003, there was discussion within City Council to add other breeds known to have higher instances of bites, as well as place an outright ban on some. Ultimately, City Council decided to keep the bylaw as amended in 2002. Arguments for Breed Specific Legislation Arguments for breed specific legislation have remained very consistent for the past thirty years and focus on public safety. Some arguments Administration found are as follows: • Certain breeds have a long established track record of violence against people. Thus, it only makes sense to prohibit these dogs in the community. Public safety is more important than concerns about discrimination. Supporters of breed specific legislation point to studies that show certain Terriers as the most dangerous breed of dog when it comes to attacks against people. Certain mix breeds exhibit highly stubborn characteristics that make them difficult to control. In other words, these dogs possess a particular violent and stubborn instinct. Thus, even if a given dog owner has never witnessed aggression the instinct to attack and kill still lies dormant within the animal. No amount of assurance or promises from a dog owner can truly protect citizens from attacks. While restricted breed dogs may not be more likely to bite than other breeds, they are more likely to cause damage.

Arguments against breed specific legislation • There is no efficient method to determine a dog’s breed in a way that can withstand legal challenge. Thus, any breed ban bylaw inevitably results in the creation of subjective, arbitrary factors to determine breed. Opponents of breed specific legislation point to the science that a majority of dogs are mixes of unknown origin, thus, it is not possible to base breed type on appearance. In other words, the breeds are too hard to define and the only accurate way to determine breed type is DNA testing. • Popularity of breeds change over time – what is identified as a “dangerous breed” today, may be different tomorrow. Some countries with breed laws now have upwards of 30 breeds on record, all of which require enforcement. It becomes a

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Report: 2012CST003 Attachment 1

Attachment 1 moving target, and the breed category just expands. In other words, restricting one breed could open the door to restricting others. • People who want aggressive dogs will simply switch to another breed or select a cross-breed that cannot effectively be identified as belonging to or looking like a specific breed. Breed ban bylaws do nothing to discourage irresponsible behaviour by individuals who breed, train, sell or possess dangerous dogs not covered by the breed specific legislation. Breed specific legislation punishes certain dog breeds, yet not all are aggressive. Many are reliable, friendly, and loyal dogs when properly socialized. Dogs are not born violent but are made that way by irresponsible owners who train them to be aggressive or develop other behavioral problems. Even breeds not normally predisposed to aggression may become aggressive if they are mismanaged. Breed specific legislation is costly and a potentially dangerous practice because singling out one or two breeds for control might result in a false sense of accomplishment and ignores the true scope of the problem.

Recent Tends/Shifts in Arguments for and Against Breed Specific Legislation Unfortunately, there appears to be no trend either towards or away from breed specific legislation. There are as many jurisdictions that are considering implementing the legislation as there are jurisdictions working towards eliminating it. Within the expert literature on dogs, we find a shift in recent years towards a more behaviourial perspective. Experts are producing a much better understanding of canine behaviour and social development. Consequently there are today many more models, theories, tests, and therapies on canine behaviour. “Behavior not breed” is a motto commonly communicated today. Consistent with the above is the idea that dogs are not born violent, but are made violent through irresponsible owners who neglect these animals, which results in these animals developing behavior problems. Data Collection Issues Measuring the effectiveness of breed specific legislation or any other enforcement strategy of animal control services in Canada is severally hampered by the fact that data sources are inconsistent. Furthermore, there is no mandated reporting, nor a central repository for information. Dog bite data remains localized and is typically not reported outside the animal control agency. The greatest limitation of existing data in Canada on dog bites lies in the lack of distinction being made between severe bites and small relatively insignificant bites.

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Report: 2012CST003 Attachment 1

Attachment 2 Breed Specific Legislation Comparison
Breed Specific Legislation Across Canada
City Number of Licensed Dogs 22,500 111,000 68,444 20,000 61,000 60,000 NA NA 40,000 25,063 1987 Yes No Yes No No No No No No No BSL by Year 2006 No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No 2011 No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No

Vancouver Calgary Edmonton Saskatoon Winnipeg Toronto Windsor Kitchener/Waterloo Ottawa Halifax

Breed Specific Legislation - Experience of other Canadian and National Jurisdictions and Aboard
Province British Columbia City Vancouver In 2004, Vancouver conducted a comprehensive review of its animal bylaws, penalties/fines and enforcement with aim of improving animal control operations and services. As part these changes in 2005, the breed specific component of the legislation was removed and dogs are now only defined “vicious” based on their actions, not breed. Metro Vancouver comprises of 17 cities and district municipalities each with its own approach to animal services and bylaws. About half the metro Vancouver districts including West Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby still have breed-specific legislation. Other municipalities that have breed specific legislation include Coquitlam, Surrey, Nanaimo and Fort Nelson. In these communities, pit bulls are automatically classified as a prohibited or restricted dog. Since the changes made by the City of Vancouver, however, smaller jurisdictions with breed specific legislations have or are in the process of re-evaluating their bylaws. For example, Delta eliminated their breed specific legislation in November 2010 (replaced it with non-breed-specific definitions of “vicious dogs”). Calgary Calgary has chosen a different approach in responding to escalating dog bites and concerns about public safety. Often referred to as the Calgary Model, the City began in 1984, to introduce tougher animal control bylaws that reflect the expectation that all dog owners would be accountable for their pets’ behavior. The model focused on three things. First, improving the city’s ability to identify the owners of dogs. This was accomplished by very strict enforcement of the city dog licensing bylaw. Second, the City took action against those individuals causing problems, ticketing those who permitted dogs to run at large and/or become a nuisance or danger to the community. The minimum fines for non-compliance of certain bylaws—at large, licensing and no leash—were raised from $30 to $250. Finally, Calgary invested heavily advertising and public safety campaigns.

Alberta

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Report: 2012CST003 Attachment 2

Attachment 2
Saskatchewan Province Wide Legislation Dangerous Dog legislation can be found in Saskatchewan (not Breed Specific). The legislation operates by enforcing heavily fines and penalties. Smaller communities with breed specific legislation include the Village of Clavet (Pit Bulls) and Moosomin (Pit Bulls, Rottweiler and Dobermans). Winnipeg The City of Winnipeg enacted breed specific legislation in 1990, following a significant number of violent attacks to humans by Pit Bulls in that city. The legislation, which is still in affect today, prohibits the ownership of “pit bull-type” dogs, which in effect means a ban on this breed of dog. In addition to the ban, the city has also allocated more resources (from $70,000 to $90,000 each year) for public education and advertising. Smaller communities: The City of Macdonald has banned pit bulls while Thompson has a dangerous dog bylaw (not breed specific). Province of Ontario enacted a province wide ban on pit bulls in 2005, under the Dog Owners’ Liability (DOL) Act. The 2005 amendments to the DOL Act made it illegal for any Pit Bull Terrier to enter Ontario from outside the province and mandatory for resident Pit Bulls to be muzzled in public places, registered with their local municipality, and spayed or neutered. Some municipalities have implemented their own breed specific legislation in order to show support for the Provincial ban while others have not. * It is important to note, at the time of writing, a private member’s bill (Bill 16) received rd second reading Feb 23 in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. If this bill is passed, it will eliminate breed specific legislation in Ontario at the provincial level. Montreal In Montreal, animal control falls at the level of the borough and there wide variation in approach among them. The boroughs of Ville St. Laurent, Lachine, and Outremont have banned ‘pit bull types’. Sherbrooke banned 'Pit Bulls', and also has restrictions on the Rottweiler and Mastiffs. Saint-Jean-sur-Richilieu, Chapais, Chibougamau, Kirkland, and Saint Genevieve have all banned 'Pit Bulls'. Halifax Halifax implemented a bylaw pertaining to fierce or dangerous dog but did not ban any specific breeds. None of these jurisdictions currently have breed specific legislation in place.

Manitoba

Ontario

Quebec

Nova Scotia

Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon

Breed Specific Legislation Implementation and Changes (within Specific European Countries)
COUNTRY Belgium BSL YES Breed Specific Legislation Breed lists were initially introduced to restrict 15 breeds of fighting dogs, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, Fila Braziliero, Mastiff, Tosa Inu, Ban Dog, Akita, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dogo Argention, Dogue de Bordeaux, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Rottweiler. These laws have since been abandoned as unworkable. A series of attacks near the elections in 1991 prompted then Prime Minister John Major to pass the controversial Dangerous Dog Act. The law was reviewed in 1997 and amended because most felt it wasn’t working. Existing dogs must be registered, spayed or neutered, tattooed and micro-chipped and the owners must have insurance. The Pit Bull Terrier and Japanese Tosa. Other breeds continue to be under consideration. France has had a pit bull ban since 2000. All owners must spay or neuter any current dogs, or face a 100,000 franc fine with six months in jail. The hope is the breed will die out with the current generation of dogs. Pit bulls have been banned Germany since 2001. Anyone who defies the law can face heavy fines and up to two years in jail. Italy implemented a Ban in 2003 that included 17 breeds of dogs. In 2009 it abolished its breed specific regulations in favor of legislation that holds the dog owner responsible. Since 1993 the Netherlands had a ban on pit pulls, including the American Staffordshire Terrier, Fila Braziliero, Dogo Argentino and Neopolitan Mastiff. In 2008 it repealed the nationwide ban and eliminated breed specific legislation in favor of focusing on educating the public.

Britain

Repealed (1997)

Denmark France

YES YES

Germany Italy Netherlands

YES Repealed (2009) Repealed (2008)

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Report: 2012CST003 Attachment 2

Attachment 3 Stakeholder Position Statements Canadian Kennel Club The Canadian Kennel Club supports dangerous and/or vicious dog legislation, which would serve to protect the public from dangerous dogs. The Canadian Kennel Club does not support breed specific legislation. The Canadian Kennel Club opposition to breed specific legislation is based on the fact that a dangerous temperament is a product of many factors, and not by breed alone. Thus, breed specific legislation may include dogs which are not dangerous, while excluding those which are. The Canadian Kennel Club considers banning a particular type of dog as a reactionary measure with little effect, and one that will only serve to push the indiscriminate breeders and/or owners underground, or to another breed not included in the legislation. The label of “vicious and/or dangerous” should be determined by an individual dogs’ behavior, and not by its breed or appearance. Canadian Federation of Humane Societies The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies does not support laws banning individual breeds. There are many contributing factors to most dog bite incidents, including poor breeding practices, inadequate socialization and training, health or behavioral issues, inadequate supervision and/or control of the dog. Consistent and fair enforcement of such laws can be difficult due to the challenge of reliably identifying the breed or breed mix. Breed specific legislation cannot take into account the issue of developing or newly introduced breeds or breed mixes. In any event, determination of a dog’s breed or breed mix is not necessarily indicative or determinative of an individual dog’s temperament or propensity to aggression. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies supports legislation and programs that encourage informed, responsible dog ownership including spay/neuter, licensing, permanent identification, leash laws, socializing and humane obedience training. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies believes dog owners should be held accountable for any harm or damage their pets do to people, property or other animals. Dog Legislation Council of Canada The Dog Legislation Council of Canada is opposed to breed specific legislation. It is costly and ineffective, targeting the “wrong end of the leash” and has historically been found to absolutely do nothing to reduce dog bites and fatalities. The Dog Legislation Council of Canada supports the implementation and enforcement of zero-tolerance dog licensing, zero-tolerance leash laws, and heavy fines for non-compliance.

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Report: 2012CST003 Attachment 3

Attachment 3 Canadian Veterinary Medical Association The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association supports vicious dog legislation provided that it does not refer to a specific breed. This legislation should be directed at fostering the safety and protection of the general public from dogs classified as vicious. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association encourages and supports responsible pet ownership. Edmonton Humane Society The Edmonton Humane Society supports a responsible pet bylaw which is breed neutral and ensures that aggressive dogs (regardless of breed) are not a continued threat to public safety. The Edmonton Humane Society believes that each animal within a breed should be treated individually rather than the branding of a particular breed of dog as “aggressive”, “vicious” or “dangerous.” Pitbulls for Life Foundation of Alberta Pitbulls for Life Foundation of Alberta base our position against breed specific legislation on having a through understanding of the breed and issues surrounding it. Through our studies and experiences, we see that breed specific legislation penalizes responsible pet owners. Pitbulls for Life values responsible pet ownership, appropriate socialization and training regimes, public education and licensing for all breeds. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association supports CVMA position statement “Legislation Concerning Vicious Dogs”. This statement encourages responsible pet ownership and supports legislation that fosters the safety and protection of the general public from dogs that are classified as vicious. The position is that such legislation should not refer to specific breeds.

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Report: 2012CST003 Attachment 3

Attachment 4 Edmonton Statistics Edmonton Dog Bites
Breed Shepherd, German Retriever, Labrador Rottweiler Boxer Collie, Border Husky, Siberian Pit Bull 2010 47 46 30 27 15 23 21 2011 48 33 33 19 27 25 23

Edmonton Dog Licenses
Breed American/bull Staffordshire Terrier Pure breed Restricted Dog (Pit Bull) Shepherd, German Retriever, Lab Rottweiler Boxer Collie, Border Husky, Siberian 2010 81 381 2461 4061 725 587 2077 504 2011 90 422 3096 4985 958 837 2452 649

Percentage Bite to Breed Number
Breed Pit Bulls Husky, Siberian Rottweiler Boxer Shepherd, German Collie, Border Retriever, Lab 2010 5.51% 4.56% 4.14% 4.60% 1.91% 0.72% 1.13% 2011 5.45% 3.85% 3.44% 2.27% 1.55% 1.10% 0.66% AVG 5.48% 4.21% 3.79% 3.43% 1.73% 0.91% 0.90% Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Percentage of Bite to Breed Number
6.00% 5.00% 4.00% 3.00% 2.00% 1.00% 0.00% Rottweiler Shepherd, German Retreiver, Lab Boxer Husky, Siberian Pitbulls Collie, Border

Percent

2010 2011

Breed

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Report: 2012CST003 Attachment 5

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