PC MPP Rick Nicholls hoping to end ‘discriminatory’ ban on pit bulls, welcomes public input

PC MPP Rick Nicholls hoping to end ‘discriminatory’ ban on pit bulls, welcomes public input

A Progressive Conservative MPP hoping to end Ontario’s “discriminatory” ban on pit bulls says he welcomes concerns from citizens worried about the dogs.

“It’s a highly emotional topic,” Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Leamington) acknowledged Thursday at the Toronto Humane Society as he prepared to introduce a private members bill at the legislature later in the day.

If the bill passes two initial votes it will be sent to a legislative committee for further study and input from the public.

Nicholls said he welcomes opposing views because “we want to make sure we get this bill right.”

The legislation is supported by the Toronto Humane Society and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, among other animal groups, which have long argued a previous Liberal government’s ban, enacted after a high-profile pit bull attack, was not based on data and scientific evidence.

“It does not target irresponsible dog owners,” said Doug Raven, chief executive of the veterinary association, which supports efforts to target dangerous dogs and their owners.

“There are dogs that are vicious but its unique to that individual animal,” he added. “It’s not taking whole breeds and casting them as villains.”

Nicholls and fellow Tory MPP David Piccini said the bill emphasizes “responsible pet ownership” by encouraging proper training of dogs.

NDP and Green leaders Andrea Horwath and Mike Schreiner have said they oppose the Liberal breed-specific legislation targeted in the bill — which Piccini dubbed “owner-specific legislation.”

Nicholls said some members of the PC caucus are not in favour of his proposal and noted they will be able to vote freely on the bill.

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Rob Ferguson

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