When Ontario banned pit bulls in August 2005, critics said the decision was arbitrary, based on a few dramatic maulings and a sensationalistic press. The campaign was a result of prejudice, not facts, they complained.
But city data obtained by the Star points to a different possibility: that pit bulls really were the most dangerous kind of dog, in Toronto at least. From 2001 to 2004, pit bulls were more likely to bite people and domestic animals than any other breed, the statistics show.
In 2004, the last full year before the ban, there were 984 pit bulls licensed in Toronto and 168 reported pit bull bites. That’s more than double the rate of German shepherds, the next most aggressive breed.
The figures, compiled by the city’s Animal Services division at the Star’s request, come from comparing a breed’s licensed population with the number of times it was reported to have bitten a person or pet.
Nearly a decade after the ban was put in place, its purpose appears to have been achieved: pit bull bites in the city have virtually disappeared.
In 2013, the pit bull population was down to 501, and there were only 13 reported pit bull bites.
The decline in the per-capita rate is probably attributable to the age of the remaining dogs, and the requirement that pit bulls be muzzled in public and sterilized, procedures that tend to make dogs less aggressive.