In 2004, the Ontario government introduced legislation to ban ownership of pit bulls in the province. If passed, fines for dangerous dogs that bite or attack would double to $10,000 and allow for jail sentences of up to 6 months!
Individuals who already own pit bulls would have to muzzle and leash them while in public, AND they must be spayed or neutered. As a breed, pit bulls would essentially disappear.
To be honest, I didn't really have an opinion about the legislation. I hadn't given it much thought. I'd just never been exposed to any pit bulls. Of course, like everybody else, I'd read terrifying reports in the news. And these reports were terrifying. Nobody wants to read about a menacing dog chasing down and ripping apart someone else's pet dog or causing broken bones and disfigurement to a young child. Even worse were the reports that a dog in the midst of one of these attacks, could only be stopped by shooting them.
I admit it. I had a healthy fear of the dogs from the news reports alone. Unconsciously, I would skirt a wide path around any unmuzzled dog that looked like a pit bull. It was a very particular form of discrimination, but discrimination nonetheless. At the same time, when I saw a poor, muzzled pit bull, I felt sad. Somehow, it didn't feel fair to me, even if I did feel safer.
This past weekend, I met Bailey the Pit Bull. When my friend Emily had mentioned it earlier in the week, I had dismissed the flutterings of fear as inconsequential. But now, as I walked through the entrance of Lisa's house, I felt a wave of real fear. When Bailey jumped up on me and lunged for my face to lick it, terror washed over me momentarily. Bailey was a massive piece of muscle. There was no denying it. Would he chomp my face with his powerful jaws? Would he grab hold and not let go? I quelled the fear as best I could. This was Lisa's dog, and she would not put me in danger.
Over the course of that weekend, I fell in love with Bailey. He is the colour of Bailey's Irish Cream (hence the name), and has the sweetest, most loving chocolatey brown eyes I have ever seen. When we went outside to kick a ball around, there was nothing but innocence and joy in those eyes of his. When I laid on the bed, he curled up next me, resting his warm, furry head on my legs, and I was lost forever. It isn't fair that a dog like Bailey should have to be muzzled in public. He wouldn't hurt a fly. Like most dogs, he only wants to give and receive unconditional love.
It's true. I wasn't sure how I felt about the ban. Until now. I am totally against it. Without a doubt. There are no bad dogs, only bad owners.