BSL in the year 2017

Posted by Chantelle Mackney on

As it stands today, January 1st 2017, we have over 200 places in Canada that enact a form of breed specific legislation (BSL).

When I state this I am often challenged and told that the information I am citing is incorrect. The main reason this happens is because people are failing to realize that breed specific legislation is not only in the form of a ban.

BSL can range from something as mild as a higher licence fee for specific breeds to an all-out ban, including mandatory destruction of any prohibited dog found within the boundaries of the legislating jurisdiction.

Some restrictions that various versions of BSL impose are:
• muzzling and leashing in public and or vehicles
• extra-short leash lengths
• automatic dangerous or vicious dog designation, without any bite history
• banning from city parks, off leash parks and beaches where other breeds are allowed
• banning completely from jurisdiction (although sometimes existing dogs are allowed to stay)
• special (i.e., more expensive) licensing and jurisdiction-wide registry
• special tags identifying the dog as a restricted dog
• mandatory microchipping and photograph
• mandatory insurance (often one million dollars) for each individual dog on the premises
• mandatory signage indicating the presence of the dog on the owner's property
• mandatory secure enclosures (in some cases, mandatory chaining)
• mandatory spay/neuter (to eventually eliminate the breed entirely)
• higher fines and/or jail time if a restricted breed bites or menaces
• fines and/or jail time for any infraction of any provision regarding restricted breeds
• age limit for walking the dog in public
• persons with criminal records not allowed to own a restricted breed
• ability of law enforcement to stop owners on the street just to check the dog's status
• ability of law enforcement to seize dogs without proof of wrongdoing
• ability of law enforcement to enter an owner's home, with or without a warrant, to investigate and/or seize a dog

Unlike the USA which has shown a steady decline, the year of 2016 showed an incline in breed specific legislation in Canada. We saw several areas in Quebec change their animal control bylaws to include some form of breed specific legislation (BSL).

Sadly after over 11 years we are still home to the largest geographical ban in the world, and the 2nd largest City in Canada (population wise) has recently enacted a ban.

The United States of America despite a growing trend in the decline of BSL still has well over 300 places that enact a form of breed specific legislation.

The United Kingdom, sadly still after 25 years still has an all out ban.

The overall growing trend is a decline in breed specific legislation when this is looked at from a global perspective.

This decline is due to people like you and I becoming proactive within our communities. Without individuals taking action and demanding change we will never make the progress we need to make.

We need each and every single one of you, regardless of where you live to help us demonstrate responsible dog ownership within your communities. We need each and every single one of you, to become more active in your communities and help us to reach people about what they can do as individuals to contribute to safer communities for both humans and canines. We need each and every single one of you, to talk to the people in your communities, and your leaders about the importance of owner accountability and breed neutral bylaws.

We need all of you to become more proactive in this fight, and not reactive. We need to take a stance about ending BSL and make a commitment to fighting it. This means that we need to go above and beyond sharing photos, or joining groups.

We need to take our activity to the streets, we need to take our activity from beyond the computer screen. We need to talk to the public, we need to spread the word, we need to set prime examples with respect to responsible ownership and we need to demonstrate this at all times to our friends, our family, strangers, neighbors etc. We need to reach out and contact the people who WE VOTE in to represent our voices, we need to ask their stance on this topic, we need to reach out and ensure our voice is being heard. Send emails, make phone calls, inquire, ask, challenge, speak up etc. You all have it within you to make change. You all have the tools to do this, you all have the passion and now we need to convert this all into will power.

We cannot do this alone. The future of our dogs and our rights as owners depends on our individual action and actions as a community.

“Be proactive not reactive, for an apparently insignificant issue ignored today can spawn tomorrow's catastrophe.”
― Ken Poirot

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