Saskatoon is becoming a safe haven for pit bulls as Ontario shelters search for new homes when the dogs –- which are banned across the province -- end up in the pound.
Three pit bulls were recently transported across provincial borders to Saskatchewan, where the breed is legally permitted. A fourth will soon make the move.
Ontario is the only place in Canada with a province-wide pit bull ban, which bars anyone from breeding, transferring ownership, importing or abandoning the dogs. (Those who owned pit bulls before the 2005 ban were allowed to keep them under the new restrictions.)
The only other Canadian ban is in Winnipeg.
Critics say pit bull bans simply don’t fall in line with reality. They argue that any breed can be aggressive; it simply depends how they’re raised.
"When you look at the statistics about animal attacks and aggression, it crosses all breeds, all sizes, down to the little, bitty Chihuahuas,” Patricia Cameron, executive director of the Saskatoon SPCA, told CTV Saskatoon.
“Neglect, abuse, improper socialization -- all of those things are going to contribute to a dog that is uncertain in temperament."
Brian, a four-year-old pit bull, was one of the relocated dogs. SPCA officials in Kitchener, Ont., decided to move Brian out of province after he showed up at the shelter with two other pit bulls. It would be illegal to place the pit bulls in a new Ontario home.
"They called us and they said they have these amazing dogs and they need a home. And they're spayed, neutered, vaccinated, behavior tested -- could we take them?" Cameron said.
Brian soon made his way to the Saskatoon home of Fabian Minnema, who wasn’t fazed by the notion of owning a banned breed. He says “folklore” has a lot to do with many people’s perceptions of the breed.
“They're stocky and they're mean-looking in their sort of aggressive stance, it just fits all the monstrous things that people pin on these dogs," said Minnema, who said he hopes Ontario will reconsider the ban.
Despite his belief that people shouldn’t fear pit bulls, Minnema admits the stereotype has its benefits.
"Well in my yard, if I don't want anyone coming in, if my kids are playing and I'm inside doing dishes or whatever, then I don't have to worry about anybody coming in. He takes care of that," he said.
With files from CTV Saskatoon