Bill begs for pit bull relief

PHOTO AND STORY BY MARKO WOLOSHYNTara MacNeil and her American pit bull terrier, Boss

Boss, an American pit bull terrier, will not only be wearing his argyle sweater for the rest of the winter – because of the pit bull ban he’ll be sporting another accessory.

“Since Boss was three months old, he has had to be muzzled in public,” said Tara MacNeil, who’s had Boss for nearly nine years. “He’s never hurt another dog, person, or even the cat I had at one point.”

Despite public outcry from Ontario dog owners and trainers as well as MPP Randy Hillier’s petition to lift the 2005 pit bull ban, the provincial government has not taken any action.

The ban states that all Pit Bulls born after Nov. 27, 2005 must be shipped out of the province, given to a research facility or destroyed, and all remaining pit bulls born before this date must be sterilized, leashed and muzzled in public.

But registered purebreds are exempt from sterilization given they participate in authorized dog shows.

Mike “The Wolfman” Martin, who owns and operates Wolfman K9 obedience in Georgetown, said the initial ban of the breed is a farce.

“All it did was make people go get bigger dogs of different breeds,” said Martin in a phone interview.

Martin has been working with dogs for more than 42 years, and has owned and trained many pit bulls.

He said that although pit bulls are not for everyone, they are a misunderstood breed and can be great pets when brought up properly.

“It’s people’s misunderstanding of what the breed is about – it’s an amazing dog,” said Martin. “People have been given the wrong information about these animals. In the right hands, with the right handler and the right conditions pit bulls are a wonderful dog.”

Martin said the risks of dog attacks are not exclusive to any one breed.

“People were also being hurt by cocker spaniels and by chihuahuas and by anything else that has teeth,” said Martin. “Don’t blame the breed, blame the individual who’s in charge of that animal.”
Hillier’s petition has surpassed its goal of 10,000 signatures.

MacNeil, 29, has been around dogs since the age of 4 and has owned or fostered a wide variety of breeds.

She said Boss is the friendliest and most affectionate dog she’s ever owned.

“Initially I was never planning on getting a pit bull, I didn’t know much about them,” said MacNeil. “A pit bull puppy was dropped in my lap, and after a couple of weeks of taking care of him, I fell in love with him and I started to do my research on the breed.”

Boss, who stands 19 inches tall and weighs 51 pounds, spent about a year in puppy school, followed by obedience school and agility training where he learned commands and a few tricks.

“In the right hands, with the right handler and the right conditions pit bulls are a wonderful dog.” – Mike Martin, Wolfman K9 obedience.

MacNeil said Boss got his name from his headstrong personality as a puppy.

“He was very brave, very sociable and liked to test his boundaries. He was very stubborn, and it just seemed to fit him,” said MacNeil.

Boss has also been attacked on four separate occasions by other dogs while muzzled.

Martin said pit bulls are definitely capable of significant damage, as they have a high prey drive and incredible energy.

He also said, in the right hands, pit bulls can live their lives out happily and carefree without any incidents.

“There can be some difficulties, but as long as you’re a responsible owner, and understand dog behavior and how to train dogs, you’ll be okay,” said MacNeil. “What I really stress is that a Pit Bull is not suitable for a first time dog owner.”

To sign MPP Randy Hillier’s petition, go to

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