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The Future of the Bully Breeds In Ontario Gets Another Vote This Thursday

Posted on 02/21/12 86 Comments

On Thursday of this week the Ontario government will be once again voting on the future of “Bully-Type” breeds. Today I wrote a letter to my MPP, I emailed it but also intend on sending a hard copy. I encourage everyone living in Ontario to do the same.

Below is a copy of the letter I wrote.

If you want Breed Specific Legislation removed from Ontario, this is how democracy works for us.

Please write your MPP here: http://bringbackthebulls.com/index.php/messages-sent-to-mpps

Dear Mr. McMeekin

In two days Bill 16, a new bill to replace Bill 132 the Breed Ban legislation against Pitbull-type dog breeds in Ontario will be once again be brought to a vote. As my MPP for Hamilton-Ancaster, I am counting on you to speak on my behalf to eliminate this ineffective and prejudicial piece of legislature.

As a professional dog trainer that travels the world giving lectures on how to shape dog’s behaviour, I can state with a great deal of authority that yes, unfortunately there are a very small percentage of dogs that, often through encouragement from their owners, are made to act aggressively towards humans. Those are specific cases of specific dogs owned by irresponsible people who should be prosecuted.

A Bill such as the one defining the legislation we currently live under does NOT protect Ontario residents from such dogs. Bill 132 unfairly targets ALL dogs of a particular phenotype implying the physical characteristics of a dog is a predictor of the potential threat they pose to humans. This is no more true then suggesting you can detected human assailants by the colour of their skin or shape of their head.

There has been no drop in the number of annual dog bites in Ontario since Bill 132 was introduced in 2005. It is time we dissolve Bill 132 in favor of Bill 16 and move forward. I would love to see Ontario become a world leader introducing effective legislation that prosecutes the true criminals, the thoughtless dog owners that are allowing or even encouraging their dogs to bite other people. I would like to offer my professional expertise as an internationally respected advocate of positive dog training to help contribute in any way I can. I look forward to seeing future progressive legislation that will not punish the “look” of a dog but rather “act” of it’s negligent owner.

Bill 132 needs to be over turned and the proposed Bill 16 make sense as it’s replacement. As an Ancaster resident I am counting on you to be my voice on this critical piece of legislation. I thank you in advance for your reply and I, as well as my 16,000 social media followers, look forward to your reply.

With Best Regards

Susan Garrett
Say Yes Dog Training
Alberton, Ontario

Today I am grateful to all that join such a worthwhile cause, these dogs need a voice, please lend them yours!


  1. Jeanette Jeandron says:
    Monday, April 9, 2012 at 3:02pm

    Hello Susan.
    Not sure if you know this: Please read below:
    With each passing day, we come closer and closer to getting rid of Ontario’s breed specific ban on so-called “pit bulls”. As I last noted a few weeks ago, we were in the process of scheduling days for witnesses to testify to the committee. We have those dates set now. Regrettably, delegations are a maximum of 10 minutes with 5 minutes of question and answer.
    April 18th 08:00AM to 10:25AM First delegation

    April 25th 08:00AM to 10:25AM Second delegation

    At this point, we need people to show their support for Bill 16. The best way we can do this is by getting the highest quality witnesses, the most experienced veterinarians, the most astute animal psychologists to testify against Ontario’s “pit bull” ban. If you know anyone who fits one of those descriptions, please let us know of them and how we can contact them to be a witness.
    Sent by:
    Randy Hillier
    MPP for Lanark Frontenac Lennox & Addington
    Would be wonderful if there could be a geat delegation to attend.


  2. C. Barker says:
    Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 5:53pm

    The bully dogs that I have worked with in sanctuaries are the sweetest ones there. They only fight because they are sure thats what their owner wants of them. When they no longer are in that environment, they are loving loyal and wonderful companions


  3. Julia Lane says:
    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 6:06pm

    Thank you, Susan, for writing and sharing this passionate, thoughtful letter. My Pit Bull mix, Shelby, passed away in Dec. 2011, and her absence has left a hole in our hearts. She was an excellent bully ambassador, changing the minds of people who blindly believed the media hype about their bad rep. I agree that breed-specific legislation is akin to human racial profiling – neither one is fair or effective.


  4. Roz Merryman says:
    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 12:55pm

    I like this !


  5. Eva says:
    Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 11:18am

    Are bull-type breeds more dangerous than other breeds? Maybe… Surely their jaws are very strong so their bite might lead to more serious injuries than for example the bite of a whippet. But the main reason why are these breeds considered dangerous is that they are being owned by a wrong type of people – people who purchase a dog just to look “cool” or to feel “powerful”, who don´t care about raising, socialising or training a dog, in fact they may even be pleased they have a “bad” dog which scares other people. Please don´t punish the dogs, punish these owners!
    I suggest that everyone who wants to own a dog (maybe just larger dogs – over a weight or size limit), should pass a test. Something like a “driving license” for dog owners.


  6. Roz Merryman says:
    Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 1:34pm

    How Did Pit Bulls Get Such a Bad Rap?

    By Jon Bastian

    If current news reports are to be believed, pit bulls have been attacking and biting humans left and right—to the point that many communities are considering breed-specific bans on pit bulls.

    Would it surprise you to learn that pit bulls used to be America’s darlings? Before the mid-80s, stories of pit bull attacks are practically non-existent. There is even some confusion over exactly which breed of dog is a pit bull—the definition includes the American pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire terrier and, at times, the bulldog. This confusion seems to have dogged the breed from the beginning, as there is some disagreement over the origin of pit bulls.

    Where do pit bulls come from and how did they get such a bad rap?

    Two Possible Histories of Pit Bulls

    In one theory, pit bulls began during antiquity as the so-called Molossus, a now-extinct breed that was used by the Greeks as shepherds and guard dogs. In times of war, they marched off to battle with their humans. Eventually, so the theory goes, the Molossus made it to early Britain, where it became known as the Mastiff. In the first century CE, Rome discovered the breed after defeating the Britons, and the dogs spread all over the empire. For the next four hundred years, they were used as war dogs, and intermixed with various local breeds all over the European continent, becoming the forerunners of the modern pit bull.

    A competing theory places the origin of the pit bull in England at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, when butchers would use large, Mastiff-type dogs as “bullenbeissers,” which translates as “bull biter.” Trained to latch onto a bull’s nose and not let go until the animal was subdued, these dogs were the only way that humans could regain control when a bull became agitated. Unfortunately, this practical if dubious use eventually led to the “sport” of bull-baiting, where dogs were put in a pit with an intentionally riled-up bull and spectators placed bets on which dog would hold on the longest, or bring the bull down. You’ve probably guessed it by now, but this is also the origin of the terms “pit bull dog” and “bulldog.”

    Still not a specific breed, the bullenbeissers were bred with Terriers, combining their intelligence with the strength of the Mastiffs. As bull-baiting came to be banned in the 19th century, dog fighting became popular as an underground and quasi-illegal activity in the UK. British immigrants to the U.S. at that time brought dog fighting, as well as their dogs, to the New World. However, as the breed spread to Americans and Americans spread across the continent, pit bulls began to be put to their original use, as general purpose herding and working dogs. Because of their fighting history, though, the American Kennel Club would not recognize the breed until 1936, although they defined it as a Staffordshire terrier, distinct from the American pit bull terrier.

    Early Perceptions of Pit Bulls

    Far from being considered a killing machine on legs, pit bulls seem to be an American favorite in the early half of the century—indeed, during World War I, the country itself is personified as a pit bull on army recruitment posters, and several pit bulls go on to become famous in the American military. Referring to an athlete as a pit bull is a very common sports metaphor through the 1930s, and it is meant as the highest compliment. There is also a famous racehorse in the late 1930s named pit bull, as well as a number of pit bull stars of early motion pictures. Frequently, pit bulls are associated with children, as in the Our Gang comedies, as well as with Buster Brown, both in short films and as the corporate mascot for a shoe company. The famous RCA Victor image of a dog and a gramophone also featured a pit bull terrier.

    From the turn of the century until the early 1980s, there is exactly one dog attack story to make the national papers and mention pit bulls, but that’s probably because it involved a man intentionally siccing a pack of 26 dogs on a young woman. According to a 1947 article in The Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida), “Attorneys said they believed it was the first time the state had invoked a statute which would find the owner guilty of manslaughter if it were proven that he permitted vicious animals to run free and they attacked and killed a human being.” There’s no mention of pit bulls as vicious and no call for a ban of the breed, just a human being held responsible for inducing the dogs to attack. Ironically, though, it is in Florida forty years after this incident that the first breed-specific ban is enacted. In the intervening decades, “pit bull” continues to be a popular description for athletes and when the breed does turn up in newspapers, it’s more often than not in a classified ad for puppies.

    The only mention during the 1960s that isn’t an ad is a rather amusing bit from gossip columnist Earl Wilson, who reported in his August 22, 1969 column, “Sonny and Cher, who used to scare people, have now been scared by people. ‘Totally horrified’ by the Sharon Tate murder case, they bought a big dog—‘a pit bull terrier’—to protect them and their little daughter Chaste [sic] at their Hollywood Home…” It is at about this time that using large dogs for personal protection becomes popular, but pit bulls are still not singled out as particularly dangerous. In 1971, a new law allows the U.S. Postal Service to bill people for injuries caused to letter carriers by their dogs, but it applies to all dogs, and the general attitude is still one of human responsibility. In a syndicated New York Times story from 1977 on dog bites, opening with the story of a seven year-old boy receiving a very minor injury from a Great Dane, author Jane E. Brody advises, “(S)imple precautions on the part of the dog owners and potential victims could prevent most of these attacks.”

    A Change in Pit Bull Perception

    Less than a decade later, that had all changed and by New Year’s Day 1986, over thirty communities are considering breed-specific bans on pit bulls. What changed? For one thing, despite being illegal in all fifty states, dog fighting made a comeback in the 80s, and the pit bull is the dog of choice. It is also the preferred guard dog for drug dealers and gangs, with a hugely publicized attack in 1987 in which a pit bull guarding a marijuana crop in California mauls and kills a two-and-a-half year-old boy. By the summer of that year, every single proposed ban has become law, but not necessarily with the support of animal professionals. Kent Salazar, head of Albuquerque’s animal control division, commented at the time of their proposed ban that he didn’t think breed-specific legislation was necessary, saying, “We have all the means to protect people with clauses about vicious dogs.” He also noted that, a few years previously, Doberman pinschers were the target of such bans. His words went unheeded, and Tijeras, New Mexico, just outside of Albuquerque, passes the toughest pit bull ban of the time, allowing animal control officers to seize and destroy them on sight without compensation to the owner.

    The various pit bull bans are decried by animal control officials as “the most concentrated legal assault on a specific breed they can recall,” as well as “canine racism.” The Houston Chronicle quotes unnamed officials as placing the blame for the problem squarely on humans. “(M)any of the pit bull attacks are due to a skyrocketing number of poorly bred and badly trained dogs raised by backyard breeders, who are trying to cash in on the pit bull’s growing reputation as a cheap, but deadly effective guard dog, particularly in urban areas.”

    Nearly thirty years after the beginning of this anti-pit bull hysteria, the tide seems to be turning a little bit, but every step forward is followed by a step back. Even as Florida is attempting to overturn all breed-specific legislation, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin is considering imposing a new ban. Yet it only takes a brief look at the history of pit bulls to realize that the dogs are not the problem; the humans who misuse them are. For over a hundred years, holding the owners personally responsible was enough to prevent attacks, and the breed was perceived as very child-friendly. With outreach and education, it may be possible to restore that image and rehabilitate the pit bull’s reputation, restoring an iconic American dog to its rightful place among mankind’s best friends.

    Related Stories

    Going Pit Bull: How We Can End Prejudice
    Pit Bull of the Year Contest

    Pit Bull Spotlight: Famous Pit Bulls

    Publish Date: February 21 2012
    Dog Whisper ! USA


  7. Roz Merryman says:
    Friday, February 24, 2012 at 1:03pm

    Nathalie , here’s the web site :



    • Nathalie Allaire says:
      Friday, February 24, 2012 at 6:23pm

      Thank you 🙂


  8. Richard Ford says:
    Friday, February 24, 2012 at 12:44pm

    Very happy that Bill 16 has passed 2nd reading 51 to 26. It is on to committee and then 3rd and final reading. Please keep this in mind and share your thoughts with your MPP’s often.

    Please sign Randy Hillier’s petition if you have not already done so.


    Thanks too from Stevie Ray, Dog Dylan, Jimmi and Joey :+)~


  9. Richard Ford says:
    Friday, February 24, 2012 at 12:42pm

    Thanks Roz, love the info.

    Debra – “we need to use common sense and protect communities, towns, etc., leaving the government out of it”

    Unfortunately the above defines BSL. It is politically motivated to sell popularity without risking anything, pit bull owners and lovers are not popular thanks to the other group sensationalizing attacks without facts to sell advertising.

    The hidden agenda behind the legislation is usually popularity, and not safety, just like it is for certain with the press. Government is In BSL!

    Fact is, most bites are fight or flight natural responses amongst all animals. The moment you lead people to believe they are safe because you have rounded up all the pit bulls, their only danger you have mislead them.

    It is putting people at risk thinking Dachshunds etc are safe when they are not, therefore bites go up. Fight or flight occurs in ALL animals!

    Even in the few cases in Canada, circumstances have always lead to some stupid behaviour or situation that preceded the incident. Unsupervised kids, drunken adults, abusive family… all thinking they are safe in some way. This is never reported as they do not follow up; the follow up stories do not sell papers. One here they claimed was a pitbull was actually a Border Collie attack! Typical too.

    This is bad for everyone!


  10. Roz Merryman says:
    Friday, February 24, 2012 at 12:04am

    Types of Pitbulls: know the difference!

    Did you know that there are several types of pitbulls?

    Some people mistakenly believe that the term “pit bull” refers to a single breed of dog. That would be same as saying that “hound” refers to a single breed.

    <>Instead, like “hound”, “pit bull” is a grouping that contains several breeds of dog.

    The three most common types are the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

    Of all of the dogs included in the pit bull grouping, only one, the American Pit Bull Terrier, is recognized by the United Kennel Club.

    Here are a few facts about these three popular types of pitbulls.

    American Pitbull Terrier

    • Weight is typically between 35-65 pounds

    • Coat is short and smooth with colorings that include red, black, fawn, brindle and solid white.

    • Head is proportionate to the rest of the body.

    • Breed is loyal and obedient, but needs a firm owner so he will know who is in control.

    American Staffordshire Terrier

    • Weight is typically between 65-90 pounds.

    • Coat is thick but short. This breed is found in a variety of colors.

    • The dog’s body is muscular, with a square build.

    • Breed is very friendly and devoted to its owner.

    • The dog “Petey” that was featured in the “Our Gang” television series was an American Staffordshire Terrier.

    Staffordshire Bull Terrier

    • Weight is typically between 28-38 pounds.

    • Coat is smooth and short. Colors include fawn, white black, blue and brindle.

    • The breed is known for its broad head.

    • The breed is said to be good with children, but sometimes aggressive with other dogs.

    Many dogs that are not even truly pitbulls are lumped into this category as well.Any dog bearing even one or two of the physical characteristics of a pit are often called “pit bull type” dogs.

    These include Boxers, American Bulldogs, Olde English Bulldogges, Presa Canarios and Blue Blood Bulldogs. This case of mistaken identity is a much bigger problem than just getting the name of the grouping wrong. Click here to see some pictures of pitbulls

    Some locations, such as Livingston, Michigan, Miami-Dade County, Florida and Sioux City, Iowa have instituted breed specific legislation which bans residents from owning any types of pitbulls.

    Also, because of the negative portrayal in the media of all pitbull types, many dogs that would make wonderful pets are overlooked at shelters and are eventually put down. Again, some of these dogs are not pits, but have been incorrectly lumped into that group.

    The improper definition of pitbull types has also flawed the system that was in place to determine how many dogs of each breed bite humans each year. While a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control showed that pit bulls bit more than other breeds, that study did not separate the types of pitbulls, but instead counted all bites by any “pit bull type” dog in one group.

    All other breeds of dogs were counted as individual breeds and not lumped together as a group.

    There is a lot of confusion about types of pitbulls, but there is one thing that they all have in common: They are a misunderstood and misrepresented group of dogs.

    Did you know that there is a lot of confusion about the colors of Pitbulls?
    Often times you will hear terms such as “Red Nose”, “Blue Nose”, “Gator pitbull” and so on.

    So let´s take a deeper look at each of this terms.

    For Black Pitbulls click here

    For Red Nose Pits click here

    For White Pitbulls click here

    For Gator Pitbull click here

    For Brindle Pit Bulls click here

    For Red Pitbulls click here

    For Blue Nose Pits click here

    For Razor Edge Pitbulls click here

    For Colby Pitbulls click here

    For Gotti Pitbulls click here


    • Nathalie Allaire says:
      Friday, February 24, 2012 at 9:25am

      Hi Roz,
      Very informative, but unfortunately no link was made to your “click here”. 🙂 I really would like to see theses pictures.

      I’Ve been following the conversation over here and on FB find it very interesting.


  11. Roz Merryman says:
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 1:54pm

    There probably would be more if the Breed wasn’t shunned because of all the false propaganda !

    Anything that resembles a Pit is stolen from shelters,yards and cars by undesirables ,here in the South ! There needs to be a national tv special on the abuse and torture of these animals !


  12. Roz Merryman says:
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 12:14pm

    Debra , they are used as service dogs and would be more if it was not for the brain warsh ing by people who call a Lab + Bulldog a Pit .


    • Debra Jones says:
      Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 12:57pm

      I’m only speaking of the pure breed American Pit Bull Terrier…I’ll have to google to see how many are used here in the USA as service dogs. Thanks!


  13. Debra Jones says:
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 12:06pm

    Very true Kathryn! But until you can control those dangerous back yard breeders and utilize the existing laws we have (USA) and make them responsible; we need to use common sense and protect communities, towns, etc., leaving the government out of it and allow the states or townships to decide, maybe? I’ve always wondered why these beautiful breeds are not used commonly in the Military, Search and Rescue, Police work…is it because of the character of this breed? Just wondering and just a thought…


    • Vicki says:
      Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 3:35pm

      Just thought you might like to see this.. the most decorated dog in the military in world war 1 and even given the rank of sergeant was a pit bull…
      Heres the link..


  14. Roz Merryman says:
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 12:01pm

    Skeptoid is a weekly podcast created and hosted by American skeptic and author Brian Dunning. The show follows an audio essay format, and is dedicated to the critical examination of pseudoscience and the paranormal.

    This is what Skeptoid is ,,, this man is no Dog person , he’s just a confused on looker !


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 12:11pm

      Great research Roz!


    • Debra Jones says:
      Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 10:20pm

      Unfortunately here in the USA, we have reports like this:


      In looking at the meat of the report, it focuses not only on the result of dog bites… but on the type of bite and hospitalization of certain breed bites.

      Within this website you can click on the Original study in the “International Surgery Journal”

      Both sides have convincing studies/opinions – common sense still rules…


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