By Ross Romaniuk, Winnipeg Sun
Banned in Winnipeg for the past 21 years, widely dreaded pit bulls might be about to reappear legally in the city.
After launching an e-mail campaign, advocates for ownership of the reputedly vicious dog breed are expected to urge a group of councillors Monday to repeal the municipal prohibition that began in 1990. Coun. Gord Steeves, who met with some of the pit bull supporters in December, says he’ll listen with an open mind when they come before the protection and community services committee.
“They have certain feelings on the breed, and feel that it’s been unfairly treated over time with this ban,” said Steeves (St. Vital), the committee’s chairman. “It’s probably fair that we have the discussion. And then we can ask our people to review it.”
Winnipeg outlawed the breed after several highly publicized and horrific attacks by pit bulls that caused people severe injuries. The dogs have since continued to make headlines in Canada for such incidents, many of which have enraged the public.
But Winnipeg’s Melanie Schmidt, one of many to join a Facebook group advocating for the breed, said the city’s prohibition is a slippery slope.
“It starts with pit bulls and eventually goes to other breeds,” said Schmidt, who doesn’t own a dog. “It’s all about responsible ownership.”
Bill McDonald, executive director of the Winnipeg Humane Society, said outlawing ownership of a breed does no public good.
“It’s all in the person who owns the dog and what they’re doing to train that dog,” he said. “I’ve met dozens of delightful pit bulls. And you can train a cocker spaniel to hurt people.”