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Choke-chain ban goes back before Toronto city council

Discussion in 'Dog Ordinances & Laws' started by Vicki, Mar 28, 2017.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Administrator Staff Member

    Choke-chain ban goes back before Toronto city council
    CNIB asks for exemption from bylaw that also forbids use of pronged dog collars.

    By Hina AlamStaff Reporter
    Tues., March 28, 2017

    A bylaw banning choke chains and pronged dog collars could be back before Toronto city council as early as Tuesday after groups who use guide dogs asked for an exemption from the new rules.

    The bylaw, which kicked in earlier this month, is being challenged by both the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and Guide Dog Users of Canada.
    Councillor Jon Burnside recommended that council revisit the ban after he was contacted by the CNIB, which he said wants an exemption for the use of choke collars in training guide dogs.

    “These are all professionals,” he said, who use these collars in a “very humane way.”

    In a March 12 letter to council, the CNIB asked for:

    • an interim measure to ensure guide dog users are not charged while the bylaw is reviewed;
    • new language defining the type of collars that are banned;
    • the same exemption currently allowed for police dogs, if the bylaw remains unchanged.
    The CNIB says it was not consulted before the ban went into effect, and wants organizations serving the blind community consulted whenever “decisions that affect us are being made.”

    Burnside said he is “pretty confident” that the item will be reopened, and “pretty sure” that the bylaw will be amended.

    However, Burnside says, a ban on the collars is still necessary because they can cause suffering to animals if misused.

    “It’s very hard to regulate their use in the general public,” he said. “We can’t be everywhere. So the more appropriate thing is to ban their use altogether with exceptions for accredited organizations.”

    A choke or pronged collar in the hands of a properly trained individual does not represent a threat to a guide dog, said a March 18 letter from Guide Dog Users of Canada.

    The schools put considerable thought into their choices of collars, and train their students on the safe and effective use of that equipment, it added.

    “All schools teach their students precisely when and how to use the provided collar and leash to administer what is known as a correction,” it read. “A correction is the act of refocusing the guide dog’s attention on its handler, and is used to re-establish the safe and smooth functioning of the team . . . Even more important is the fact that when the correction results in a return to the desired behaviour, the dog is rewarded, most often with praise.”

    The bylaw began as a city staff recommendation to ban the use of pronged collars, choke chains and similar devices

    Advocates for the blind are not the only groups lobbying for changes to the bylaw.

    Grooming services will be negatively affected by the bylaw, said a letter from Gary Rygus, director of government relations of the Retain Council of Canada.

    “We believe it was not the city’s intent to prevent grooming activities to be done in a safe manner and therefore request that the bylaw be amended to exempt grooming services as soon as possible,” Rygus said in the letter.

    The Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, in a letter has asked the city to focus on treatment of animals, not the devices themselves.

    Those dog owners found using banned collars risk being ticketed and would face an as yet undetermined fine.

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