New report challenges ban on owning certain dog breeds in Winnipeg

A ban on certain dog breeds in Winnipeg might be lifted in the near future.

A new report going to city hall next week is suggesting the ban on American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and others be replaced with regulations that focus on owners.

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“We think that people can successfully own all different types of dogs, but all these people need to be responsible,” says the manager of the city’s animal services, Leland Gordon.

The ban came into place in the 1990s due to irresponsible pet ownership, which resulted in dogs attacking citizens, says Gordon.

Read more: Winnipeg Animal Services overflowing with dogs looking for new homes

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Now, the public service says Winnipeg and Ontario are the only major jurisdictions with this kind of ban.

“So essentially, what we’re looking at is something called ‘breed neutrality,’ where you treat dogs based on two things: the behaviour of the dog, of course, but also the behaviour of the owner. How responsible is that owner being?” Gordon says.

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Under the proposed changes, dogs or their owners may be flagged as ‘at risk,’ for things such as running loose, being impounded, lacking veterinary care, or being kept in unsanitary conditions.

“The ‘at risk’ category would be a category where we work with owners and we identify problematic owners and problematic dogs in our community and we work with them to prevent those dogs from entering the ‘dangerous dog’ category, or being placed under protection,” Gordon explains.

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If the dog is deemed dangerous, additional requirements would be added to the animal and its owner.

For example, requiring training and the use of harnesses, being unable to use daycares and off-leash areas, or being barred from acquiring more pets.

Amanda Quinn, dog trainer at Dumbledogs, says dogs aren’t bad, owners are.

“No matter the breed, it’s how you raise them and how you train them and socialize them,” she says.

Read more: City committee denies dog owner’s appeal to keep prohibited breed in Winnipeg

Quinn thinks the ban should be lifted.

“Whether they’re young or young adults that you rescued, get (your dog) into classes and teach them to be calm and in control around other dogs,” she says. “There are classes out there for reactive dogs.”

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