Are pit bulls banned in Ontario?
Pit bulls and similar-looking breeds are banned from the province of Ontario. This breed-specific legislation went into effect in 2005 and has remained in place ever since. The ban names specifically pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and American pit bull terriers. However, authorities have the right to confiscate your dog simply based on their opinion that it looks like a pit bull. Authorities may confiscate your dog immediately and without warning. If you live in or must travel to Ontario, be sure to have documentation on hand.
There has been chatter about a possible repeal. In November 2021, legislators amended the ban to return impounded pets to their owners while the breed is formally determined. Otherwise, the ban remains the same, with no further plans to lift it at this time.
Enforcement of the ban may vary from place to place. The city of Ottawa does not enforce Ontario’s pit bull ban. This is good news for anyone who lives in or travels through Ottawa, but it means you will still have to deal with the ban whenever you leave the city.
Are pit bull mixes banned?
Unfortunately, Ontario’s pit bull ban also applies to pit bull mixes. When evaluating your dog, authorities look through a checklist of physical attributes. This means your dog may be included in the ban, even if it is not technically a pit bull. You may provide documentation of your dog’s breed if you have it. However, only purebred dogs can be registered, meaning that if you’re the parent of a pit bull mix, you might be out of luck.
Can I travel through Ontario with my dog?
If your dog is a pit bull—or a breed that is at risk of being mistaken for a pit bull—it is best to avoid travel through Ontario, if possible. The pit bull ban applies to residents of Ontario and visitors alike, meaning that your dog may be legally confiscated as soon as you cross the border. Officers do not have to allow you to leave the province with your dog. This ban includes popular destinations such as Toronto, Ontario, and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
Individual cities may also have their own breed-specific laws, so be conscious of where you travel and be sure to do your research before you embark with your little one(s).
What is the reasoning behind the ban?
Advocates of the pit bull ban that pit bulls and similar breeds are “bully” dogs that are predisposed to violence. The ban required existing pit bull owners to muzzle their dogs in public and sterilize them, intending to eliminate pit bull breeds within a generation. Opponents of the pit bull ban believe that pit bulls are not any more violent than other breeds—it’s simply a matter of training. Opponents also argue that the ban will lead to owners training other breeds to fight and in turn, more banned breeds.
While the ban has successfully removed pit bulls from Ontario, it has failed to curtail instances of doggy violence. According to the City of Toronto statistics, the number of registered pit bulls in Toronto has decreased by 80% since the law was enacted, but dog bites per capita are trending up.