Recent Surrey dog attack sparks debate about pit bull bans

Surrey RCMP say they are still on the hunt for two individuals and a grey-and-white pit bull in connection with a Monday morning mauling at a convenience store.

The attack has sparked a debate about whether pit bulls should be banned.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said she is seeking input from the public before city council meets Monday.

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“I’m just interested in taking the pulse of the public on that and taking a look at what we could do to further strengthen our animal control bylaw,” Hepner said.

Hepner said the city has a dangerous dog bylaw, but it’s not breed-specific.

READ MORE: Victim of Surrey pit bull attack speaks out against dog’s owner

Several municipalities have restrictions on the breed, but there is no outright ban anywhere in B.C.

Montreal will ban pit bulls in September after a 55-year-old woman was found dead after a pit bull attack.

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver says such legislation is misguided.

“The problem is not breed-specific, the problem is owner-specific,” he said.

Weaver tabled a bill last month saying it’s up to the government to step up and pass legislation making pet owners liable for injuries caused by animals, not just pit bulls.

“We heard the premier on the news just beforehand saying that bylaws can be passed by the municipalities,” he said. “The reality is the province is abdicating its responsibility.”

Civil litigator Chris Carta said the lack of a provincial statute on dangerous dogs puts the onus unfairly on the victim.

“Some other common-law jurisdictions — notably Australia, for example — have made it strict liability,” he said. “If you have a dog, it hurts somebody, you’re libel for it. It’s as simple as that. You take the risks with it.”

– With files from Rumina Daya

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