Miss Pearl isn’t even knee high. When she meets new people she runs up for a lick and a cuddle.
But Miss Pearl is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a breed banned in Ontario.
She is only here because she was born in the province before the breed specific legislation was implemented in 2005.
Stephanie Sutherland, with the Ontario “Pit Bull” Co-Op, insisted the 11-year-old dog’s friendly demeanor isn’t the exception, but typical of her breed.
“They are very, very friendly, they are very snuggly, they are very sweet,” said Sutherland.
Sutherland firmly supports the latest attempt by NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo to convince the Liberal government to repeal the legislation.
“There’s nothing mythical or unusual about a pit bull. Jaws don’t lock that’s a myth. They don’t have necessarily, depending on the size of the dog a stronger bit than any other dog,” said DiNovo.
“So it’s really down to the owner’s behaviour.”
Under Ontario’s breed specific legislation, experts rely on a description of a typical “pit bull type” to determine if a dog falls into the banned category.
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“It’s all based on physical appearance, it’s not based on behaviour at all, that’s what I don’t like about this legislation,” said Selma Mulvey, with the Dog Legislation Council of Canada.
But at this point the government is not budging, saying the legislation is there to protect the safety of Ontarians.
“For me the important thing is public safety,” said Attorney General Yasir Naqvi.
However, over the same time, bites from all doog breeds went from 486 reported in 2005, up nearly 60 per cent to 767 in 2014.
Global News asked Naqvi whether he still felt the pit bull ban was successful in protecting Ontarians from dangerous dogs.
“That particular legislation is dealing with pit bulls, and those numbers of breeds have come down. We’ve seen other jurisdictions taking similar actions,” responded Naqvi.
This week a controversial pit bull ban Montreal tried to implement was temporarily suspended by the courts, due to vague wording.
Critics of breed specific laws point to dozens of jurisdictions which have removed pit bull bans because they didn’t work.
Sutherland said it would be more effective to enforce things like leash laws and educate dog owners on their responsibilities, instead.
“We are spending money and resources to enforce a law that is completely ineffective,” he said.