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Dog bylaw enforcement outlawing certain breeds creates controversy

Jessica Lewis and her daughter Arizona get to know their new pit bull puppy Bronx.  CONTRIBUTED
Jessica Lewis and her daughter Arizona get to know their new pit bull puppy Bronx. CONTRIBUTED - Contributed
CLARK'S HARBOUR, N.S. —

A dog bylaw created by the Town of Clark’s Harbour in 2011 outlawing certain dog breeds including Pit Bulls and Rottweilers is being enforced for the first time.
Two town residents were served notice on July 15 that the town has received complaints about dogs suspected of being one of breeds banned by the town that may be in their possession. The residents were given a week to acknowledge and respond to the letter. “If no response is received either in person or in writing to resolve this matter the Town of Clark’s Harbour will have no choice but to take this matter further, possibly resulting in court action," the letter stated.
Breeds that have been deemed “fierce and dangerous” under the bylaw include “Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Pit Bull, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler or any dog of mixed breed which includes any of the aforementioned breeds,”  or “any dog with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack, without provocation, persons or other domestic animals; or any dog which has bitten a person or another domestic animal without provocation.”
Mayor Leigh Stoddart said the town has had no purpose to use the bylaw before “because we have had no reports of people having Pit Bulls, Rottweilers or any mixed breed like that.”
At the time the bylaw was created “we had a Rottweiler that was always on the loose and was doing bad things to other people’s dogs and the kids were scared of him,” said Mayor Stoddart.  “They can live anywhere else in Nova Scotia expect Clark’s Harbour and one other place so its not like the dog doesn’t have nowhere to go.”
The town was waiting for official responses to the letters from the two residents before taking any next steps. 
For resident and dog owner Jessica Lewis, the bylaw “isn’t fair.” She notes “the ban is because of the reputation these breeds carry, not an act.”
Lewis said she has had conversations with the mayor and has made suggestions of bylaw changes that would allow people to own the identified breeds under certain rules.  
“I wish the mayor had a more open mind and would even consider any changing in the bylaws but he is firm. He has no intentions… I am moving out of the Town of Clark’s Harbour because of this," she says.
An online petition has been created at Change.org. More than 2,300 people had signed the petition Clark’s Harbour Pit Bull Ban in the first few days. "Dogs should never be judged on their breed but on their personality …they deserve to be treated the same as all other breeds,” states the petition in part.
But the town is standing firm.
“If we were backed off of this bylaw and something happened because of a pit bull, it wouldn’t be the dog owner that people would be going after. It would be the town,” said Stoddart. “We’re between a rock and hard place on this one so I’m going to err on the side of safety and stick with it. We don’t intend to change the bylaw. We’re doing what we feel is in the best interest of the town’s citizens.” 

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