Late last year, Ontario made the decision to ban pit bulls. They could no longer be bred or imported into the province, and the ones that were here could stay as long as they are muzzled in public.

While many applauded the move, and there are many, the opponents to this legislation were just as vocal. I really hate to sit on a fence here, but I think I understand both sides.

As someone who has an occupation to come to your door on a daily basis, I can speak from experience, and also from an emotional standpoint. I am glad the ban is there. I do, however, have mixed feelings, as the evidence does not support my stance. Anyone with a computer and access to the internet can, in just a short time, discover that pit bull breeds do not constitute the bulk of biting incidents in our province. There has been some hysteria over this breed, some of it founded, and some of it not.

The crux of this ongoing problem does not lie with the dogs, but by the complete and utter fools who breed them to be mean spirited. For the most part, people who shouldn’t even own a cat gravitate to the most aggressive breeds. It is those individuals who have or take no responsibility for their animals who are truly to blame. The fact that pit bulls receive so much attention is what is behind this anti pit bull movement. Add to that the nature of the damage that one of these machines can do, and you have a recipe for knee jerk legislation based on emotions and hysteria.

While I have never been mauled by a dog, I have been attacked. I was once trapped on a porch for several hours by a very agitated pit bull. I know that I have no idea of the pain and trauma that some people have been exposed to by way of these dogs, but again, we truly need to look at all of the facts, weigh them, and consider a solution based on information. I for one wish that no person would ever be bitten again, but hastily written legislation grounded in emotion will not prevent this.

Now to get to the root of the problem. There are several factors that lead to dog bites, be it from a pit bull, or from a poodle. They are all, without exception, exacerbated by careless and irresponsible humans. There are some fundamentals that go without saying, but it seems today we have no stomach for absolutes. It’s too bad, because they reduce many of the ‘what ifs’.

To start with, we need way tougher penalties and sentencing for a number of individuals. People who run puppy mills or dog fights should be dealt with very harshly. Anyone convicted of a criminal offense should be banned form raising, buying, or owning any form of dog. Period. This will reduce the incidents of thugs buying dogs to use as weapons, or at least cut down on it. If we wade into that, we need some penalties for those who disregard those regulations.

Anyone who’s dog is found to have bitten someone should not be allowed to own another dog. If you love dogs, you had better be sure and do everything in your power to keep it by your side.

Any dog that bites should be put down. No argument, no appeal. Our ancestors used to follow this little rule. It had two positive results. A dog that bit didn’t repeat the act, and a dog that was aggressive wasn’t bred with. I understand that all dog bites are not the result of an aggressive dog, and sometimes it is only acting to protect itself. My thought that is if you love your dog, you will ensure that it isn’t put in that position. I also realize that some children tease dogs, but perhaps they should be taught that they ought not to. Remember discipline?

People who leave their little ones playing around dogs need their head checked. People who let their little children take huge dogs for walks on leashes need to be neutered. People who let their kids tease family pets, all the while thinking it’s cute, also need some serious help.

There is no perfect way out of violent dog attacks, but with a little education, a lot of responsibility, and some real serious consequences, we can all but eliminate most incidents.

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