Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Coming Soon - It's About Time!

Surrey's dog bylaw to get more teeth

Karen Lau, who has acted on Surrey's dog bylaw advisory committee for about 12 years, said tighter restrictions for dog owners are on the way.

Surrey's dog bylaw is about to get a lot stricter and expensive for pet owners with aggressive animals. But the new legislation will not be breed specific, despite the public call for a ban on pit bulls.

The demand for a ban comes after a three-year-old boy was seriously attacked by a pit bull Friday afternoon in a home hear 103 Avenue and 133 Street . The dog, normally kept on a chain outside, was mistakenly brought inside. It suddenly turned on Justice Paradis, biting the toddler's face several times. The child was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery.

Family members said the boy's facial injuries were severe but he was expected to recover.
The boy's father told CTV News he blames himself for not being more watchful. "I should have known better," DeJal-Blue Paradis said. "I should not have let my son out of my range." The boy's grandfather, Bill Paradis, said the dog, named Haze, belongs to the boy's mother and hasn't attacked anyone before.

Haze is usually kept on a chain outside the family home near 103 Avenue and 133 Street in Surrey. When the boy's father allowed the dog inside the house, Haze attacked, biting the son, then the father when he tried to rescue his child. "[The dog] grabbed him on the face and whipped him down," DeJal-Blue Paradis said, adding that his son suffered a hole in his cheek.
The family is now expected to have the dog euthanized.The boy was taken to emergency and is now at home and expected to recover from his injuries.

Karen Lau, who has acted on Surrey's dog bylaw advisory committee for about 12 years, said the call for breed bans in such instances is understandable, but ill-informed. The committee worked for two years to fully develop the city's "Dog Responsibility Bylaw," which puts the blame for an attack at the feet of the dog owner. The bylaw was given final reading in March of 2000.
Several months ago, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts asked the committee to revisit the bylaw to see if there was any way of strengthening it.

The advisory committee has just finished a draft to make the dog bylaw a lot tougher, Lau said, declining to be specific before council sees it. Lau noted fines will be higher and restrictions will be tightened. But she remains dead against making legislation breed specific."Most people don't understand, the breed is general, they're just dogs," Lau said Monday. "But the person at the end of that leash that raises that animal, they are all different."

She believes dogs other than pit bulls attack with similar frequency, but the media
sensationalizes it when there's a pit bull involved."Unfortunately, when it's a pit bull, or pit-bull type dog, it gets more publicity," Lau said. "What I'm trying to say is other dogs bite too, but you don't hear about it as much."

Watts said Monday she looks forward to seeing the bylaw, and notes she generally opposes breed bans because they take the onus off the owner.
Watts said educational resources are available in the city for people looking to raise happy, non-aggressive dogs.

One of those is through a program called "Playing it Safe with Dogs." More information regarding that program can be obtained by emailing Karen Lau at

(We are happy to say that HugABull had a hand in this new bylaw and we are looking forward to having this in place in the City of Surrey.)

Here is what responsible owners have to say!

It is time to ban this breed?

The Province April 14, 2009

There is no doubt there are many wonderful pit bulls in the world. People familiar with the breed often talk about how social they are, that they love to play, and that they make great family pets.

Unfortunately, pit bulls have three strikes against them:

1.When they bite, they don't easily let go and the damage to their victim is almost always severe.
2. They scare the hell out of people. Yellow Lab walks down the street with its owner and people smile. Pit bull walks down the street with its owner and people cross the street.
3. They don't attract quality owners. That's not to say all pit bull owners are questionable pet owners, just that an inordinate number of questionable pet owners are attracted to pit bulls.
On Friday, a pit bull savagely attacked a three-year- old in Surrey. No doubt the family is devastated by the incident. The father of the injured boy has accepted responsibility for not keeping a better eye on his son."I can't say it's the dog's fault," the dad told Global TV.

However, in the end, it was the dog that did the biting and it was the dog that was euthanized.
There is no doubt there are many wonderful pit bulls in the world, but the time has come for jurisdictions like British Columbia to ban ownership of this breed for the safety of all.

What do you think? E-mail a brief comment, including your name and town to:

This is what we think:

NO it is not time to "ban this breed" it is time to stand up and hold the irresponsible OWNERS accountable for thier failer to house, train and socialize their dogs. Banning a breed doesn't do anything but make the public FEEL safe, do you actually think that people who cant even follow a simple leash law are going to be able to follow a breed ban or the rules that would be implimented with BSL legislation.

WAKE UP, if only all provinces would follow in Alberta's foot steps, Calgary has some of the best dog legislation in the WORLD and NO breeds are banned !

Proud owner and rescuer of the American Pit Bull Terrier

People take for granted that pit bulls attack more often than other dogs, and when they bite they do more damage. Where is the hard data to support this? To my knowledge there is no dog bite registry or publicly available reports. The closest thing I can find is a 2007 study by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association that identified 28 human fatalities in Canada due to dog attacks since 1990. Only one of these was caused by a pit bull breed. Rottweilers, huskies and “unidentified breeds” were represented in larger numbers.

The sad reality is that dog bites are very common - ask any veterinarian, trainer or medical professional. However, the only ones deemed media-worthy are those involving pit bulls. The Surrey attack on a boy received provincial media coverage, but around the same time a dalmatian severely injured a young woman in Vernon. The latter attack received only a few lines of coverage in a local paper.

I also know of a woman whose Yorkshire Terrier was almost killed by a Jack Russell terrier in a dog park over Easter weekend. All of these attacks are tragic and warrant intervention and safety measures - but the media continues to frame dog safety as a pit bull issue, starting public hysteria and ranting about breed bans. When we talk about "types" of people being more dangerous that's discrimination and racial profiling, which we all agree is illogical and unfair. Why do otherwise intelligent people advocate it for man's best friend?
First off, this article does not mention that its an "Opinion" piece, so why is it being written by a Province writer? I thought the media was suppose to be an unbiased source, providing all facts to the public.

It's clear this article doesn't follow that rule, nor do our general media outlets follow it either. The hysteria created by the media is appalling.

Banning the breed is not the answer and never has been. The Netherlands just repealed their 15 year breed ban sighting that it did nothing to stop dog bites. Italy has done the same. The state of Portland overturned a bill proposal after realizing a breed ban would only give the public a feeling of false security.

We need to start looking at owner accountability. Will the owner of Haze be allowed to own another dog without restriction? Absolutely! Was Mr. Hal Harris, after being questioned and released last year, restricted from owning another dog to let roam of leash and potentially attack other dogs? (after clearing demonstrating he was an irresponsible owner) No! Why??? Because it's simply easier for us, the public and public officials, to blame what cannot defend itself and call for obliteration rather than work at addressing and changing the PROBLEM.

Humans are the problem here, and until we realize that, and do something to change it, pit bulls, and the many other dogs involved in attacks/bite/aggression, belonging to careless, irresponsible owners, will continue to wreak havoc. If we spent as much time witch hunting this breed as we did on holding owners accountable, we would no doubt see immense change! Lastly, to the individual who wrote this article, and commented that pit owners are questionable, I take great offense. I have more people wanting to meet my dogs, than those shying away. I am a tax paying, home owning, volunteering member of YOUR community.

I challenge you to meet and get to know some pit bull owners.... I have hundreds I can introduce you to. Until you have met, and spent time with some well rounded pit bulls, your ignorant comments carry no weight. Please, do some reading, from unbiased sources, I think you'll be rather amazed....

Sincerely, a proud, contributing pit bull owner (who by the way was attacked by a German Shepherd 25 yrs ago)
To whom it may concern:

I was compelled to respond to your question "is it time to ban this breed?" with a resounding "no!". Breed bans create a false sense of security because when one breed is scapegoated, people neglect to understand that all dogs can and do bite. I have faith that in BC and everywhere we as a society will be able to move beyond the hysteria and fear mongering and adopt an effective approach.

Teach safety around dogs in schools, so that children learn how to avoid dangerous situations. Create stronger legislation holding the owner accountable for the actions of any dangerous dog, regardless of breed. Animal protection laws must be modified and strengthened to prohibit chaining, isolation, and other practices well known to create and escalate aggression in any breed of dog. Banning a breed simply encourages those we should be targeting- bad owners- to move onto other breeds that will in turn create more headlines. Until we adopt a proactive, non-discriminatory approach to dealing with dangerous dogs, bites and attacks will continue, and the victims will continue to be largely children and of course dogs, both of whom have been failed by their caregivers in situations such as last Friday's incident. It's time we held owners responsible for these failures.

Caitlin McLagan
Vancouver, BC

Does it surprise me that people are afraid of this breed? No! The media has done a good job convincing people that these dogs are the problem and not to worry about whose holding the leash or lack there of.

We have turned into a society whose way of solving a problem is to ban it. Banning a breed is not the answer, it just leads people into a false sense of security thinking that, “with Pit Bulls gone I must be safe” and that’s not true, ALL dog bite, ALL dogs attack it’s just that the media only chooses to report the ones involving Pit Bulls.

So what about my mom, who’s Yorkshire Terrier on April 13th was attacked and nearly killed by a Jack Russell Terrier? The Jack Russell had to be kicked in the head several times before it let go? Why won’t the media report that? My moms dog was rushed to the vet and could have died from the punctures and swelling to his neck. Why is this not news worthy? why shouldn’t people know about this?

My Pit Bull was attacked by an off leash Australian Cattle Dog leaving her with punctures to her neck and yet that never made the news. Was it because she was the victim?

The answer to ending dog bites comes with education, lets start educating ourselves in regards to ALL DOGS. Calgary has some of the best bylaws and one of the highest compliance rates in the country, their dog bites have dropped by 78% and they didn’t have to ban any breeds, rather they chose to start holding the owners accountable, and guess what it worked! I work hard everyday to show the community how wonderful Pit Bulls truly are, and to protect my dog from a ban.

Educating the public has become by life. We need to make changes to our laws, starting with imposing fines to the owners rather than just killing the dogs. Do you really think that dog bites and attacks will stop with banning Pit Bulls? Give your head a shake, there will be another breed right behind the Pit Bull to take it's place and when it's a Golden Retriever will you be willing to ban them too?

Kristen Bergum
Port Moody, BC

In response to your article; No, it is not time 'pit bulls', it is time to realize that numerous different breeds of dogs bite people, with far more frequency that do pitbull terriers I might add. funny though, how, when a pitbull bites, it is apparently newsworthy, even though their bite pressure is no more strong than any other larger breed dog.

Where was the media when I and my dog were savagely attacked by a Black Lab? I was injured and traumatized! What it is time for is to hold dog owners accountable for their dogs' behaviors, and how they raise their dogs.

There is absolutely no evidence to support that myth that pitbull terriers are more dangerous than other breeds. This is a fact that has been presented to authorities all over North America and Europe.

Please stop this media sensationalism. It is hurting responsible, caring dog owners who are raising very nice dogs, and beloved family members.

Thank you
Alexandra Weynerowski
Summerland, BC

Implementing a Pit Bull ban will do nothing to solve the problem of aggressive dogs. Breed Specific Legislation is a reactive policy that creates a false sense of security among the general public. Countries like the Netherlands and Italy have repealed their breed specific bylaws in favor of stricter dangerous dog bylaws that target and hold the owners of dogs accountable for the actions. Let's learn from their mistakes and be proactive at solving the issues surrounding dangerous dogs in our cities. Look to Calgary as an example of effective, enforceable legislation that is non-breed specific. Since implementing these policies, dog bite incidences have decreased drastically and owners are not able to simply move onto the next breed of choice.


Responsible Dog Owner

My response to this editorial is absolutely, unhesitatingly "NO".

This response comes from me as a nurse, a mother, a long time owner of many breeds and mixed breeds and yes, as a current pit bull owner. I have never been bitten by a dog myself in 43 years living in the companionship of them, however I have had a dog that I would never have trusted unsupervised around children, who had to be put in a bedroom if we had people over to prevent her from ever feeling cornered and lashing out - she was a lab/border collie mix.

We adopted her from a shelter when she was eight and she had spent all of those eight years chained in someone's yard. She was surrendered when she snapped at the man's three year old grandson. She loved her life with us - in a house with lots of attention and exercise. But those years of neglect on a chain had done their damage. Small children made her nervous, being cornered made her nervous, and being on a leash when other dogs were around terrified her. All of these made her snarl, growl, and if anyone came too close, bite.

I never would have considered having her euthanized - I could safely manage her behavior and keep others safe from her. She died at 15 and I miss her to this day. In her memory I fight animal abuse and neglect at the hands of humans every day - she never stood a chance to be a normal dog with a start like that. Any dog that is treated like this will react the same way, so matter what breed they are. Dogs have one defense, their teeth. They warn, and they bite. A dog that feels threatened (and it only has to be justified in their mind), cornered, or is in pain will bite.

All of the reported pit bull bites have been from dogs running at large, not properly supervise or with a history of being caged, tethered, abused or neglected. When properly cared for and socialized, as mine are, these dogs are the most loyal, loving and intelligent dogs you can have. They do not have a "short fuse" or "locking jaws", they are not bred to attack humans, and they absolutely can be trusted with children, if, as with any dog, the children can be trusted with dogs.

The pit bulls only crime is being very trainable - therefore easy to use for fighting and other horrific activities - and looking "tough". I come from Oregon, a state that has entertained the idea of a breed ban several times. In the end the lawmakers looked at all the evidence from other countries and from animal advocacy groups and decided, rightly, that the problem was with the people not the dogs, and that banning a breed would solve nothing. Instead they imposed a progressive fine system for dogs running at large, fines and jail sentences for those found to be abusing or neglecting animals, and harsh fines and jail time for the owners of dogs who bite. They have seen a decrease in dog bites.

We need to educate people how to care for their pets properly. We need to have harsher laws to punish those who neglect and abuse animals, and we need to teach our children how to act around dogs, especially ones they don't know. Breed bans won't work any better than gun laws have or prohibition did - the people who have bad intentions and want to do harm will always have a way to get what they want.

In closing, I would invite any reporter or staff member from the Province who would like to spend a day with a pitbull to come and spend the day with me. Expose yourself to the reality of these dogs instead of believing the rhetoric you are reading in your paper and other papers, hearing on the radio and seeing on TV. I know your mind and your life will be changed.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” Mahatma Gandhi

Jennifer Graylands
New Westminster BC

I am a law-abiding, responsible citizen who happens to have fallen in love with American Pit bull Terriers.

I love these dog for the amazing relationship and bond they develop with humans. As a family therapist my dog has assisted me to work with high-risk children and youth who are otherwise slow to trust people. As a former Animal Control Officer I have also seen firsthand that any dog can bite. For instance, in Vancouver over 50% of dog bite incidents involve German Shepherds; while in Delta over 50% of dog bites involve Golden Retrievers, followed by Labrador Retrievers.

What most of the dogs have in common is poor breeding, poor socialization and irresponsible owners. The most recent incident involving the Surrey toddler is reprehensible, but was entirely avoidable. Keeping any dog outside on a chain is a recipe for disaster. I have been bitten twice by dogs- one a Bouvier, the other a German Shepherd- both these dogs were under-socialized, poorly bred and had owners that were not very responsible. I did not blame the breed of dog, I placed blame where it belonged, with the owners.

Irresponsible owners are attracted to multiple different dog breeds and when one breed of dog is not easily available they just move onto another breed of dog. In Lower Mainland cities where Breed Specific Legislation is in effect one tends to see more Dobermans, Rottweilers, and Mastiff breeds owned by irresponsible owners as these dogs are thought to be "tough looking" by people who should not own any breed of dog. In response to dog bite strength, German Shephers and Rottweilers have actually been found to have a stronger bite than Pit Bulls, therefore if a ban was going to be based upon potential bite damage then other breeds would have to also be considered for the ban. Instead of considering a breed ban, it is time to create laws that will actually help prevent bite incidents.

Start regulating breeders to help ensure that only dogs with sounds temperaments are being bred, make it illegal to keep dogs tied up on chains, create stronger laws that effect irresponsible owners whose dogs bite.

"They don't attract quality owners. That's not to say all pit bull owners are questionable pet owners, just that an inordinate number of questionable pet owners are attracted to pit bulls" I take great offence to this statement. I know literally hundreds of pit bull owners.........and they are all quality individuals. I am a pit bull owner - I have two actually.......I am also a Certified General Accountant, a college instructor, a mother to a 12 year old son, a volunteer at my son's school, a homeowner, a business owner........shall I continue? Do you consider me to be less than quality? I dont' hold it against you for being associated with the less than un-biased please do not categorize me with the few that do harm to this breed's reputation. Breed bans unfortunately provide a false sense of security to the public that results in people being harmed just as often as before the ban.

There is plenty of statistical information on the web concerning this.....perhaps you should take the time to review it. Rather than breed bans, ownership bans should be put in place.....I would love to see the Calgary By-law for Responsible Ownership come to has greatly reduced the number of bites without banning any breeds. Instead it put the emphasis on the owners and made them accountable through penalties, fines and really should read it yourself. When I was six I was viciously mauled by a german shephard. 158 stiches and six hours of reconstructive surgery to put my face and head back together. I would never ask that german shephards be was a case of poor ownership. However, if we had laws in place to make the owners' accountable....perhaps I would have been this dog's first victim instead of the ninteenth (yes...I was the 19th victim....and there were more after me).

There is a saying that "the more people I meet, the more I love my dog".....there is also another one "don't ask a dog to be a human....ask the human to be human". Perhaps if we stopped expecting Pit Bulls, Rotties, Shephards etc. to act and behave with human accountability, and asked their owners to be the accountable ones we may be further ahead....after all "a dog is a dog is a dog". Saying NO to ANY breed bans!

Arlene G. Lambert, C.G.A.

I am the owner of Markeydas Pet Grooming and was once an Animal Control Officer in the City of New Westminster for three years. I have been showing and training dogs of all breeds since I was ten years old and I am now a certified Canine Good Neighbor Evaluator for the Canadian Kennel Club. As a Canine Good Neighbor Evaluator, I am required to put dogs of all breeds through temperament tests and evaluate their performance.

I am also the proud owner of "Markeydas Arlo CD CGN ADC SGDC RAMCL RA AGNJ" Arlo, is a rescued 5-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier, who some people would call a “Pit Bull”. Arlo has won many titles and awards and has even posed in Modern Dog Magazine along side some cute little Chihuahuas. Arlo and I have competed in Competitive Obedience, Rally-O, Agility, and have trained in Tracking, Weight Pull, Dock Diving and Arlo is currently in training to be a Service Dog.

I have degenerative disc disease and Arlo is trained to help me to stand up when I am sore and to get me exercising and moving. Arlo also helps to pull me up stairs, and is learning to pick up items for me that are on the floor or in areas out of my reach. He is such an important part of my life and I could not live without him. Breed bans have proven to be ineffective at preventing dog bites, and would severely punish dog owners and lovers like myself that have fallen for the Pit Bull's intelligence and unbelievably loving personalities.

I hope that one-day the laws will hold the OWNERS of aggressive dogs accountable and not the place the blame on my dog, by banning dogs based on the way they look.

Samantha Andress
Langley, BC

Pit Bull Owners Vs. The Media

Kristen Bergum with HugABull Allumni Koda at the
Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday April 12, 2009
This past Easter weekend was a busy one for us, with the tragic yet completely preventable attack on young Justice Paradis. This incident made headlines on every major news cast and was on the front page of all the local papers.

Once again the media jumped on the story and focused on the portrayal of a "Family Pet "Pit Bull" Gone Bad" and neglected to focus on the real issue, the life that dog had as a neglected yard dog, missing out on a great opportunity to educate the public on WHY dog attacks rather than focusing on what breed it was.

The misquoting and misinformation was right there front and centre for all us to see as Global News was quoted on Saturday night claiming that “the City of Vancouver currently has dangerous dog legislation in place requiring all Pit Bulls to be muzzled in public”, which was an extreme error as the City of Vancouver repelled it’s breed specific legislation in 2005 .

The shizzle had hit the fan for the final time as responsible owners stood up to say enough is enough. It's time for FAIR and accurate reporting, we demand it! The message for this weekend was "This is not a BREED issue, this is an OWNER issue" How we care and control our pets, is how we prevent dog attacks and now we create them.

This young Pit Bull involved had been reported by the media as the "family pet", yet was a dog that was kept chained in the backyard of the mother’s home days on end without any thought or care The grandfather was quoted saying "the dog was not good with children" yet was let off its chain by the boy’s father and brought into the home and left with the baby. This story is not of a family pet gone bad, this is a story of a chained animal, an unsocialized, under stimulated, unloved dog who was never given the chance to learn how to behave in a social environment. This was a neglected, abused dog that was doomed by his irresponsible owners.

Animal Advocates has been fighting hard to stop the chaining and tethering of dogs in and around our community for years, but were they ever asked to speak for the cameras about the damage this can cause to a dog? No! and when CTV sought out Shelagh Begg from HugABull with the pitch that they wanted to cover the affects of chaining dogs, for their Saturday night spot, they choose to omit the facts and the truth completely choosing to rather interview and air a woman who's dog was attacked by a Pit Bull a year earlier, leaving its audience to believe that dog aggression and human aggression are one in the same.

Our most important message went out to the media:

Your inaccurate, sensationalized reporting is affecting law abiding citizens and families from all municipalities in British Columbia and around Canada. Your desire to scare the public into believing that this breed is a danger not only to the public but to anyone that owns it, is completely false and ridicules.

We ask that you start reporting fair and accurate information regarding ALL dog attacks and not just the ones that involve Pit Bulls. We owners are tired of fearing for our dogs lives and for our right as Canadians to own and love this breed. We responsible owners are not few, we are not many, we are millions and we are the majority of Pit Bull owners in your communities today.

We will not allow you to damage this breeds reputation further, we have had enough and we will start voicing our concerns more openly and with more power.

Monday, April 13, 2009

One Amazing Team

Sometimes you are lucky to find someone truly special, for Arlo that person was Sam.

Arlo was adopted through HugABull to Sam Andress and her husband Cam back in October of 2004. Sam, an experienced dog owner, handler and groomer was looking for a dog with something special. She knew right away that Alro, was that dog when she found him on our website.

Since adopting Arlo, big things have been happening for these two.

Arlo and Sam have gone onto win numerous ribbons in Agility, Obedience and in the show rings.


What do all those letters mean??

CD companion Dog (CKC Obedience)

CGN - Canine Good Neighbour

RAMCL -Rally Advanced Magna Come Laude(with honors)(CARO)

RE - CKC Rally-O

ADC -Agility dog of Canada (CKC)

SGDC - Starters games dog of Canada (agility)

AGNJ -Agility novice jumpers (CKC)

Sam is an advocate for the breed, always speaking out and breaking all stereotypes and myths that cloud this wonderful breed. With Arlo at her side, Sam and Arlo are champions for the breed.

Through all of Arlo's awards and appearances at public events, this dog has become a symbol of the love, devotion and sheer will power these dogs have to please their owners. Arlo adores Sam and because of this has accomplished remarkable feats. He has become quite the celebrity in the Pitty Community and we always look forward to hearing of his adventures.

Sam continually gives her time helping HugABull, show the public what great Pit Bulls are really like, through community events and their hard work in the show and out of the show ring.

We know that whatever the future holds for these two superstars HugABull will be cheering them on all the way.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pit Bull Owners Demand FAIR Reporting

Today we had our Pit Bull Walk for Fair Reporting.

20 or so HugABull volunteers started at the Vancouver Public Library at 2 pm and walked with their dogs to bring awareness to the unfair reporting of Pit Bulls by the media.

Recent reports of a Surrey dog attack have not been telling the entire story - instead reinforcing stereotypes of vicious, unstable attack dogs, making it more important than ever that the public knows the truth. We all know that the vast majority of pit bulls are loving, loyal dogs that live as treasured family pets and pose no threat whatsoever to the community. For every attack story there are hundreds of owners who love, nurture and train their dogs to be wonderful family pets and we wanted to give people the opportunity to meet some of them this afternoon at an awareness walk starting at the Vancouver Public Library.

Trainers, owners and dogs where on site (some in Easter costume) to highlight the best of this wonderful breed.

With reporters on hand we were able to get our message out and where even featured on both Global and CTV news at 6pm

Click to see our CTV newscast

Click to see our Global newscast Click on News Hour, and the piece is about at about 9:06mins left on the newscast. Its a little tricky to find... click on "News Hour" - then click on Newscasts. Make sure to chose today's date.... April 12, 2009

Click to cast your vote on News 1130 (Do you think Pit Bulls are portrayed negatively by the media?)

Click to read The Vancouver Sun article

Click to read The Georgia Straight