03/03/2005

The Provincial government has passed Bill 132, the Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2004.

The legislation amends the Dog Owners Liability Act to ban pit bulls anywhere in Ontario. It allows current owners to keep their pit bulls, but prohibits them from breeding or acquiring new pit bulls.  These "grandfathered" pit bulls will have to be leashed and muzzled while in public, and must be spayed or neutered.  The new legislation increases fines to a maximum of $10,000 and allows for jail sentences of up to six months for individuals who own dangerous dogs that bite, attack, or pose a threat.  The legislation allows fines up to a maximum of $60,000 for corporations that own such dogs, and also allows a judge to order restitution to be paid in relation to an offence. 

The legislation would not interfere with the authority of municipalities to impose other appropriate controls.  The Act states that in the case of a conflict between the provincial legislation and a municipal animal control bylaw, “the provision that is the most restrictive in relation to controls or bans on pit bulls prevails”.

Corporations - such as "puppy mills" - could also be fined up to a maximum of $60,000. The court would also be provided with the ability to order restitution to a victim.  The legislation would also provide for the power to search and seize dogs under a warrant on private property or without a warrant in emergency situations or in a public place. 

AMO Position:  AMO submitted its response to Bill 132, to the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly, in early February.  AMO recommendations related to Bill 132 included the need for a long-term funding program to support the goals of the proposed Act, new tools to enable municipalities to pay for the new costs associated with the implementation of this Bill, clarification of accountability in the areas of administration, compliance and enforcement as well as how municipalities are supposed to determine whether or not a specific dog is a ‘grandfathered dog’.  AMO will continue to press the Province for dedicated funding for municipalities to hire additional personnel for identification of banned breeds and enforcement of the Act.  

The amendment to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act still requires royal assent but it is expected to come into effect later this year. Details regarding the date of proclamation and when the legislation will take effect will likely be announced before the end of the month according to the Ministry of the Attorney General.

AMO has called upon the Attorney General to work with municipalities to ensure implementation of the legislation is practical, effective and affordable for Ontario municipalities. 

 
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