Toronto dog bites fell after pit bull ban

Toronto dog bites fell after pit bull ban - image

The number of dog bites reported in Toronto has fallen since a ban on pit bulls took effect in 2005, public health statistics show.

A total of 486 bites were recorded in 2005. That number fell generally in the six years following, to 379 in 2010.

Provincial laws that banned ‘pit bulls,’ defined as pit bulls, Staffordshire terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers and dogs resembling them took effect in August 2005. Existing dogs were required to be sterilized, and leashed and muzzled in public.

Bites in Toronto blamed on the four affected breeds fell sharply, from 71 in 2005 to only six in 2010. This accounts for most of the reduction in total bites.

The fall in bites blamed on the four breeds tracks a reduction in the dogs themselves, data obtained separately by under access-to-information laws shows. Some 1,411 Toronto dogs were in the four breeds in 2008, as opposed to 798 in mid-2011.

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“It is encouraging to hear that fewer people are victimized by dangerous dogs,” Ontario Attorney-General John Gerretson said in a statement.

NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, who opposes breed-specific bans, called the data “not accurate in terms of the larger picture of what’s happening in Ontario” in an interview with Global Toronto reporter Laura Zilke.

“It’s the deed, not the breed. The owner should be held responsible, not the dog. We’re in favour of a dangerous dog act, but one that’s reasonably written and well-researched, and this one isn’t. Our law would hold the owner liable, because it’s the owner that trains the dogs.”

About 1,000 Ontario pit bulls have been put down since the ban took effect.

With totals of Toronto dogs by breed and ten years of bite data, it is possible to see which dogs are most likely to bite in Toronto based on a ratio between dogs of a given breed in 2011 and reported bites over the decade between 2000 and 2010. Below are the 20 most bite-prone dogs. The four prohibited breeds all appear in the top eight slots.

BreedDogs, 20112000-10 bite reportsDogs per 2000-10 bite report
1PIT BULL4733841.23
5AM PIT BULL TER43202.15
7GERM SHEPHERD19267722.49
9CHOW CHOW203762.67
16BULL TERRIER91214.33
17BOUV FLANDRES164364.56
20PARSON RUSS TER19113964.83

(Breeds with fewer than 10 dogs excluded from the calculation)

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Toronto dog bites, 2000-10
Total bites in blue, pit bull bites in red


This is the first in a series about dog ownership in Toronto.




In response to the Global News web post “Toronto dog bites fell after pit bull ban” of Monday November 14, 2011 and on behalf of the 20,000 members of the Canadian Kennel Club the following information corrects a flawed premis. We register 175 identifiable and distinct breeds of purebred dogs, operate under the auspices of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and are adherents to the federal Animal Pedigree Act. Under Ontario Bill 132 “pit-bull” includes the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier, two breeds registered by CKC.

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The Animal Pedigree Act and CKC By-laws require that every dog sold as purebred be registered within 6 months from the date of sale and uniquely identified by microchip or tattoo before leaving the breeders premisis. This establishes the dog as purebred and identifies the legal owner.


For municipal licensing owners identify mixed breed dogs based upon the pure breeds it resembles most… hypothetically a ” Labrador/Shepherd “. Through the eyes of a victim of this same dog it may be described as a ” Sheppard mix” Finally when as a statistic it is entered into permanent record it becomes a “Shepherd” when in fact it is a mixed breed dog. The statistics are thereafter flawed, the pure breed is misrepresented and the fact is, this was a mixed breed dog, black in colour and of medium size.


The Toronto statistics behind this article indicated there are 177 Staffordshire Bull Terriers identified/ licensed having the second highest bite ratio based upon 97 incidents and 105 dogs identified/licensed as American Staffordshire Terriers with the fourth highest bite ratio and 40 incidents. Contrary to the above the Canadian Kennel Club registration records show 11 Staffordshire Bull Terriers registered to owners in Toronto and one American Staffordshire Terrier!


When these 12 dogs are dead all incidents will be attributed incorrectly to a pure breed and “mixed breed” dogs will be responsible for all of the bites and the records will be wrong.

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Accuracy is a mandate and the Canadian Kennel Club encourages standardizing public record keeping by identifying mixed breed dogs… as mixed breed dogs not a pure breed.


The CKC has been protecting it’s breeds through registration since 1888 and we continue to do so.




Sonny Allinson


Manager Communications Division


The Canadian Kennel Club




It really is a sad truth that these days the “media” or “news” is simply a video version of PEOPLE magazine, with a more gruesome twist. The “pit bull” hysteria is a modern day witch hunt, propagating fear and hysteria that lays in myth and exaggeration. It would be nice if our media sources could do some REAL research.

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It is because of articles like this that “pit bulls” are in the plight they are. And perhaps you’ve forgotten, it used to be German Shepherds that were the target of the media hysteria; they were, after all, Natzi dogs. And after that it was Rottweilers and Dobermans, because of course they’re all viscous guard dogs.


If you doubt this, you should read the Winter 2011 issue of American Dog Magazine. In there you’ll meet 11 “pit bulls” who are ambassadors for their ‘breed’, many of whom are certified therapy dogs.


Now down to the facts.


# 1… there’s not such thing as a “pit bull”! Who knew! “Pit bull” is a general term used to define a variety of breeds, including any short haired, stocky, large headed MUTT. #2 These numbers don’t mean as much as you’d think, the # of bites means nothing; percentage of bites is what’s important, however with today’s “pit bull” ban, how many people are registering their dogs as “pit bulls”? None. And add that to the fact that only 30% or less of the dogs living in Toronto are licensed at all.


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#3 As an example, a Rottweiler’s jaw is more powerful than a “pit bull’s”.


#4 “Pit bulls” that have been bred to be aggressive, to fight, were bred by the same lowlifes who own the dogs that fight and attack. (And if you look at the history, “pit bulls” were originally bred as bull-baiters, then for dog fights. But at the time of those dog fights, they were bred to be dog aggressive, but EXTREMELY people friendly, because the original dog fight’s weren’t to the death. The owners had to be able to go in and separate the dogs without having them turning on them. The illegal dog fighting that started in the 80s is a sick, twisted, illegal sport, and we should NOT judge an entire breed based on what a few sicko’s are doing in their basements.)


#5 Responsible owners who own “pit bulls” as pets own well mannered, affectionate dogs, who don’t bite.


I beg you, use your heads people. This isn’t rocket science. The “pit bull” hype is simply this decade’s witch hunt. I haven’t met a pitty with a mean bone in it’s body. Not that I don’t admit they exist, of course they do, they do for any breed, but they weren’t born that way, the way they were raised MADE then that way.

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This is a PEOPLE problem, not a dog problem. Now all you witch hunters out there, smarten up!


Tara Walsh

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