Letter: Banning dogs by breed is racial profiling for animals

Property management companies need to become more educated about certain breeds.

Dachshund

To the editor:

I’m sure everyone has seen the news the last few weeks with regards to the breed specific legislation that is taking place in Montreal affecting the pit bull and “pit bull-like” dogs. Within days the SPCA launched a legal challenge to the new bylaws and for the time being it has been suspended. Families can breath a sigh of relief and not live in fear that their family pet can be taken away.

Whether you are for or against this ruling I think we can all agree we cannot paint every breed or every owner with the same brush. Any dog (or cat) owner can be irresponsible, lack the proper training and experience to control and manage their pet.

With all this being a hot topic of debate, now is a good time to educate other groups such as strata council and property management companies on the issue of size and breed restrictions in owner occupied condos and townhouses.

If I own my unit why can’t I have a pet over 14 inches or 16 inches, if I’m a good neighbour and a responsible pet owner? Poo is poo—large dog or small dog. In fact I see more people with the attitude that if it is small I don’t need to pick it up.

Do big dogs make more noise? Again we can’t assume that all dogs are the same, however as a general rule small dogs do bark more. In our house we have one of each and the big girl, who one would think should be the protector and barker, doesn’t bark at all. Some strata councils will not allow a dog over 40 pounds on the second floor. Is noise the issue? Then what about the humans walking around, they make noise.

For a whole year we have been looking with a family member for a condo that will allow a medium-to-large dog — if there is not a size restriction it becomes a breed restriction. The reasons are all over the map and are made out of fear and ignorance of the breed and the owner. The most recent bylaws at a property we wanted to purchase prohibited Staffordshire bull terrier, bull dog and Rottweiler, labeling them as “vicious.” But I could own a wolf hybrid or cane corso or a host of other large dogs, not to say that those dogs are aggressive but you get the point.

To me this ban is like racial profiling, it is wrong in so many ways. Children need guidance and love to grow up to be good adults, pets are no different.

Let’s have a look at some of the most aggressive breeds

No. 1 must be a pit bull or a Rottweiler right? Nope. That would be the dachshund. One in five have bitten or tried to bite a stranger and one in five have attacked other dogs, one in 12 have bitten their family members and they are at the top of a list of 33 dog breeds that were rated for their aggression in a study that analyzed the behaviour of thousands of dogs.

No. 2 must then be the pit bull or chow or German shepherd right? Nope, it is a Chihuahua followed by the Jack Russell, but yet they can live in almost any condo or townhome.

The difference is when they do attack they rarely make headlines. My own small dog has been attacked by a cat but yet there in no bylaws to restrict cats.

In a study published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania concluded that breeds scoring low for aggression included Basset hounds, golden retrievers, Labradors, Siberian huskies. The Rottweiler, pit bull and Rhodesian ridgeback scored average marks for hostility towards strangers, while some small breeds including the Yorkshire terrier scored above average.

Our pets are our family, they are our companions, they teach our children compassion and responsibility. They are there for therapy, to help calm anxiety and improve depression-related illness. Sometimes they are literally our life line.

Not being able to find affordable safe housing because of your choice of pet and companion needs to change, strata boards and property management companies need to become more educated about certain breeds.

Instead of making an across-the-board decision and assuming certain breeds are at risk, ask for copies of training certification or letters of reference from the pet’s vet. Meet the pet and the owner. Statistically, pet owners do make good neighbours and are responsible.

Lissa Montpetit, Kelowna

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