Raining Dogs and Lefties
Now, I understand Mark Buerhle is a ballplayer who will make $11 million next year (jumps to $19 million in 2015!), which gives him a certain position in society. At 33, he must be already wise in the ways of the world, and let's assume he's unique among Americans in that he has travelled widely and sampled the culture and living conditions of other nations.
I also understand that he's a new Blue Jay, and given the playoff-less drought of the past two decades, and given the fact many U.S. ballplayers prefer not to play north of the Canada-U.S. border, we're especially hoping he'll feel comfortable in his new surroundings.
But perhaps Buerhle might be willing to spend, say, a week in our fair country before he starts recommending which laws require changing and which ones are fine by him.
Perhaps, in the case of the ban on pit bulls in Ontario, he might want to do a little investigating. Find out why the ban was put in place in 2005. Talk to some of those injured by that particular dog breed. Find out if there has been an appreciable change in dog attacks since the ban. Find out if there were any unique circumstances that led to the ban. And so forth.
Perhaps Buerhle, despite the fact he's a ballplayer and thus special, might want to show Canada just a wee bit of respect and live here for a spell before he begins to lecture the country on its legal system, culture and values with respect to animals.
Just a suggestion.
Now, don't get me wrong, I kind of get where Buerhle is coming from. I'm a proud dog owner, with a 14-year-old Labrador retriever and a 12-year-old Golden Retriever, and hopefully a Golden puppy on the way next year. I like big athletic dogs, and the various varieties of pit bulls are powerful, muscular dogs, attractive to my eye.
I also agree with the sentiment that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Dogs need more protection from man than man needs protection from dogs.
So Buerhle and I are good so far. Also, the fact that his pit bull is a "rescue" dog certainly is a plus. He obviously cares for dogs and the breed, and many owners of Staffordshire bull terriers, American bull terriers and other pit bull types could fill this space easily with good stories about these dogs as pets.
However, there were reasons why pit bills were banned in Ontario. it didn't just happen in a vacuum.
Perhaps the law was hasty or too sweeping, but a series of ugly incidents over many years involving the dogs, sometimes involving children, spurred legislators to act. Pit bulls aren't the only dogs to have ever bitten or attacked humans, but they certainly were involved in a number of problematic situations that caused an outcry. The unwillingness of the breed to stop attacking once they start makes them a frightening foe if confronted.
Which is why, of course, some like to own them. On their own, with good training, they can be useful and non-threatening dogs. But there are bad dog owners out there, and you put one of these dogs in the hands of such a person, it can be dangerous.
Not always. But it can be.
This is not "discriminatory." Dogs are animals, and there any number of animals, mostly exotic ones, that you cannot keep as pets or in domestic situations. The Ontario law on pit bulls was challenged in court and stood up to the challenge.
I can't keep a cow on my front lawn, either. Or walk a tiger in the neighborhood. I'm not sure if I can keep a shark in my swimming pool or not. It's probably good I don't have a pool.
Animal ownership is regulated, and for specific reasons. Pit bulls as a breed were banned for specific reasons in Ontario, as they were in Dade Country down in Florida where the Miami Marlins play, which is why Buerhle during his season with the Marlins had to live in a different county. A variety of constituencies in North America and around the world have dropped pit bull bans, while the state of Maryland adopted one this year.
It's still a very debatable issue. Statistics have shown dog bites declined in Ontario after the pit bull ban was enacted. That's imprecise data that could be attributed to any number of factors, but the number in itself is compelling.
I'm certainly not anxious to re-introduce pit bills back into Ontario. Why? So Buerhle doesn't have to deal with the inconvenience? What benefit is there to Ontarians in general to have to deal with these issues and possible problems again? Do we have an insufficient variety of breeds for domestic use? Do we think unsavoury and incapable dog owners won't be drawn again to this breed?
I'm also thinking both Buerhle and the Blue Jays might want to tread carefully here. If the player and/or the team get behind a repeal of the ban, and then Ontario finds itself dealing with the pit bull issue all over again, both Buerhle and the team might find themselves attracting unwanted publicity.
I'm certain Buerhle means well and is passionate about the issue. Advocates of repealing pit bull bans here and elsewhere are always passionate.
But perhaps a little respect for the country that is welcoming you to work and live might go a long way here. Just spend a little time in Canada first before advocating legislative change. Fair enough?