Chris and Beverley Wood show off their English bull terriers Rosie and Junior.

Chris and Beverley Wood show off their English bull terriers Rosie and Junior.

Dog bylaw blasted for leashing breeds

Ladysmith to look at 'Restricted Breeds'

  • Feb. 25, 2011 3:00 p.m.

The town’s breed-specific dog bylaw language has too much bite when it comes to  certain breeds, according to a  local resident and dog lover.Chris and Beverley Wood presented a large file of information on dog attacks to council on Feb. 21 in hopes they will look at the wording of Bylaw 1554 that deals with ‘Restricted Breeds.’Chris said there is no problem with the laws to control dangerous dogs, but wants to see the target taken off specific breeds.The town’s ‘Restricted Dogs’ include pit bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, English bull terrier, Staffordshire terrier, and any dog of mixed breeding over the age of four months which includes the aforementioned breeds.“Dogs which according to the actual statistics, do much more biting than the dogs we identify, other than the pit bull, are not listed.“There is really no rational basis for the selection of breeds.”Chris said while some breeds may have a track record, circumstances behind attacks are not listed, making it hard to get the whole picture.In Calgary, said Chris, they have removed any wording about breeds from their bylaws and attacks have gone down.“They had the lowest number of dog bites on record.”Chris said he has spoken to an animal control officer who stated he has no more problems in Duncan than he does in Ladysmith and Duncan does not have breed language.In a motion passed on Feb. 21, it was decided: “That the correspondence from Chris and Beverley Wood dated January 26, 2011 regarding a request to consider removing breed specific language from the Dog Licensing, Control and Pound Bylaw be referred to a committee to review and report back to Council, and that the committee include members of the committee that previously reviewed this issue, and that Chris Wood and Councillor (Lori) Evans also be appointed to the committee.”Chris said he is pleased the town is going back to look at the bylaw.The Woods own two English bull terriers named Rosie and Junior.Woods said the breed, and their dogs, have no history of any kind of danger. “They’re not bred for fighting.” Chris said their dogs have even been attacked by other dogs not on the restricted list. Under the restrictions, the Woods have to walk their dogs with muzzles, a procedure they say is stressful for the dogs and puts them at a disadvantage.“If I take them out with a muzzle … if he gets attacked, either he gets mauled … or I have to attack the attacking dog. Which I don’t want to do.”The restrictions have meant the Woods don’t walk their dogs anymore, making it unfair to the dogs and owners who want to get out and enjoy life in Ladysmith.“We are not allowed to enjoy the town the way our neighbours can.”Enforcement of the bylaw is haphazard, said Chris, noting some people get away with walking their dogs with no muzzles.Angela Fredrickson, manager at Little Rascals, said she completely agrees and does not want to see dog breeds singled out.“In my opinion, I don’t think they should have any breed restrictions at all. I think it’s ridiculous.”Fredrickson wants to see the matter approached on a case-by-case basis and wants the responsibility to fall squarely on the owners.Fredrickson said she wasn’t a part of the original committee, but she informed her customers of what was going on and encouraged letter writing.Fredrickson said her customers are usually aware that ‘it’s not the breed, it’s the deed.’“Don’t judge them till you own one,” said Fredrickson, who owns a Rottweiler and hopes to one day own a pit bull.Trevor Hughes, CEO of Coastal Animal Services, said certain dogs, such as pit bulls, can make great pets, but cannot deny their centuries of instinct.“All dogs are a by-product of human manipulation and genetics,” said Hughes.“Dogs exist for certain purposes.”Hughes agrees with the restricted dog list and the animals on Ladysmith’s, noting the only non-pit bull breed is the English bull terriers like the ones owned by the Woods.Hughes is supportive of the language restricting certain breeds, noting animals with genetic aggressive traits should be included on the list.“If there is no restrictions on those dogs, then the number of situations we are going to encounter are going to increase.”Pit bull terriers, said Hughes, were bred to kill other dogs.Those instincts cannot be bred out of a dog in one or two generations, said Hughes.English bull terriers, too, said Hughes, also have a high ‘prey drive’.“Most terriers do. Why do these dogs exist? Humans created them to kill rats.“They still have it in their genetic makeup to go after another animal.”As an example, Hughes looks to a border collie, which has a high prey drive for herding cattle.Take a dog like that and put it in the city, even without herding experience, it will look for things to herd, like kids or cars.Hughes said they can be great with people and families, but in animal control, they see pit bulls being more aggressive to other dogs than any other kind of breed.People attacks by pit bulls said Hughes, often occur when an owner is trying to protect their dog. In the case of pit bulls, the attacks are more severe, often leading to canine fatalities.The restrictions in place, Hughes said, serves as protection for the general public instead of dealing with cases as they happen.But, Hughes noticed, owners of these breeds in the Cowichan Valley are mostly responsible and there are few problems.However, Hughes said, males between the ages of 10 to 26 are often drawn to  pit bulls as an extension of their egos.“That’s the worst sect of society to own a dog like this because they are not necessarily the most responsible.”Hughes noted they are now seeing even larger dog breeds become mainstream.