What to Do
Speak up. Your voice is important.
Unfair legislation exists because people become complacent or they think it doesn’t affect them. It affects all of us. Currently, it seems that pit bulls are being focused on, but it could be any breed.
One of the best ways to help is to work towards ensuring that local politicians and bureaucrats are aware of the ineffectiveness and cost of breed-specific legislation. Your voice will help to change unfair, ineffective and costly legislation – or to stop it before it is put in place. You can:
- Look up your local Animal Control Bylaw (this should be on your city or town’s website) to see what your city or town has in place.
- Contact your mayor and city/town council to provide them with information about best practices for animal control. Check out our tool kit for sample letters and information packages.
- We recommend starting with a friendly, courteous letter to your mayor and city/town council, asking them where they stand on this issue. Then, depending on the response, it is also appropriate to follow up with a phone call or meeting with a specific council member, or to make a request to present at a city council meeting. The people in local government are not necessarily experts in the areas of animal control, BSL or in understanding best practices when it comes to this issue. You can help to educate and inform them – and this can be a strong tool in helping to positively influence the outcome of how your city or town manages animal control, dog bites or attacks, and other incidents related to dogs.
- If you feel that significant changes in your city or town are necessary, reach out to others in your community. Remember that the mayor and city/town councillors are accountable to their voters and tax payers – you. The more people who come forward to support bylaw changes, the more likely it is that they will be considered. Create a committee, a petition, or even just a Facebook group to connect with people who are interested and invested in this issue
- Once you have a base of local support, please e-mail us at: email@example.com for support and advice on approaching policymakers and media.
Educate People Around You
- Share this website with your friends and family.
- Speak with your friends and family about the cost of BSL – both in tax dollars and in emotional trauma for the families of pets who are targeted (and to the pet itself). Remind them that this is not a “pit bull” issue – under BSL, any mixed breed or dog resembling a “bully breed” is vulnerable. And, quite often, the dog that is targeted has no history of aggression, has not bit anyone, and has had no reasonable complaints against it. It is because of the “look” of the dog, not the actions of the dog or the owners. Please check out the Tool Kit (under Resources) for information sheets, facts, stats and talking points.
- Let your friends, family and others who are interested know that while legislation and public discourse focuses on breed, it ignores the real factors behind dog attacks, leaving our communities no safer.
Balance the Conversation
- If you see inaccurate media coverage regarding the breed or type of dog involved in a bite or attack, please let us know a.s.a.p. by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you can, take screen shots or photographs of the coverage and send them to us, along with the links. Online content is frequently updated or changed, so screen shots are the best way to capture information when it is initially reported.)
- Politely contact the reporter and/or editor of the news source, pointing out the inaccuracy and asking for a correction to be run. (You can find the contact information on the media outlet’s website.)
- Use your own social media presence to spread accurate information. Please check out our tool kit for information sheets, facts, stats and talking points.
Ensure ALL Dog Incidences Are Reported
If you see a nuisance or aggressive dog in your neighbourhood, contact your local animal control department. This number should be available on the city or town’s website. Reporting problem dogs does not make you a bad neighbour and does not mean the dog will get in trouble. It means that your city’s animal services team has the opportunity to take action early, before that dog’s behaviour has a chance to escalate.
Almost without exception, any dog that seriously injures people has a long track record of minor bites and nuisance behaviour. By reporting all bites and incidences equally, we will also see a more balanced picture of which dogs (and which breeds) are causing problems.
Be Community Minded
People can also support community efforts that help to address the risk factors for dog bites and attacks. The city/town can do its part by enacting legislation and enforcement, but community groups often play an important role by providing:
- Spay and neuter subsidies
- Affordable vet care
- Outreach to low-income and vulnerable residents to provide training support, humane training equipment, and one-on-one assistance for their pets
There are a few organizations in British Columbia that are committed to helping on a grass-roots level. Consider donating or volunteering to some of these initiatives:
- The SPCA provides low-cost spay/neuter and subsidy programs, as well as low-cost vet care through their Vancouver Hospital.
- HugABull has training opportunities by donation as well as spay/neuter subsidies.
- Paws for Hope has a spay/neuter program and a vet care assistance program for low-income pet owners.
- Best Friends for Life provides food and support to low-income pet owners.
If you cannot find similar organizations or programs, please e-mail us at: email@example.com and we will do our best to help connect you with them.