Last night, Burnaby City Council voted to accept staff recommendations to increase restrictions under the current breed specific legislation (BSL) that automatically deems all pit bull type dogs as vicious. They made this decision despite overwhelming evidence that BSL does not work to reduce dog bites and more severe dog related attacks. They made this decision despite qualified researchers and legal professionals identifying serious flaws in both their data and the inferences made based on this data. They made this decision with the knowledge that not one reputable animal welfare agency in North America supports BSL.
Prior to making their decision they invited the community to provide feed back. Within a three week period, 150 letters were sent opposed to BSL and five delegations were made before Council opposed to BSL. There were 15 letters in support. It would seem pretty clear that not only does the science speak against it, the majority of community members are either opposed to it or have no opinion (certainly not one strong enough to share it with city council).
In casting their votes, Council members provided reasons that had there been a chance for rebuttals would have been quashed in a nanosecond. Most notably, Councillor Calendino stated “the vocal minority are against this, but the majority is silent and they want this”.
Where is the evidence that the silent majority want this? How would you even measure what they want, when they are, by definition, silent? My partner did not write a letter and he does not support BSL. In fact, it didn’t even occur to us that he should write a letter, as I wrote one on behalf of our family. But according to Calendino, his silence actually means he wants this. Well sir, we take personal offence to this. Not only did you cast a vote for him, you cast the wrong vote.
Never have I witnessed such a flagrant display of ignorance and arrogance. So resolute in their superiority, Burnaby City Council need not rely on sound research. They need not look to best practices. And they need not listen to what a large number of their residents want. They simply need only to pat each other on the back for reading the minds of the approximately 224,000 residents who didn’t speak up.
So I will not send this letter to council, nor will I send it to the editors of any newspapers. It is not necessary. I will sit here, drink my coffee and close my eyes and Councillor Calendino can pass my message on to the rest of council.