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Toronto eyes changes to dangerous dogs registry

The city keeps tabs on dogs involved in serious attacks, but a city councillor doesn’t think the registry goes far enough in preventing future attacks and a report she ordered following a mauling last summer could bring in changes to bolster the program.

There are about 250,000 to 300,000 dogs in Toronto and Coun. Paula Fletcher is quick to point out the overwhelming majority of them are safe. But she said the one per cent who cause vicious attack, like in her ward last summer, were enough to prompt a review of the system tracking dangerous dogs. Fletcher said the Dangerous Dog Tribunal will require a dog owner to hang a warning about their pet, but she said that does little to protect the public.

“My residents didn’t feel that the city had a strong enough response to these really ultra-serious dog attacks,” Fletcher told Global News.

On Tuesday, the Economic and Community Development Committee will hear back from city staff who are recommending several changes to the registry. The biggest change would be a publicly-accessible list that would provide a dangerous dog owner’s ward number as while as their postal code prefix to let people know where the dog lives.

The list would also include information about the dog, like its breed, name, and a description of when incidents took place.

Fletcher acknowledges the motion could be controversial, but she said the need to address safety after several high-profile attacks trumps that.

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“Anybody who’s been mauled, it is a life-altering experience, we need to recognize that. And if your dog has been involved in that, there needs to be some very strict requirements,” Fletcher said.

Anita Browne is still recovering from an unprovoked attack two weeks ago and she said she welcomes the changes. Browne was waiting for a bus near Martin Grove Road and John Garland Boulevard when two dogs attacked her. The stitches are about to come out of her arm, but her arm is broken in three places and will require surgery.

“I have to thank God for life and you know, I’m just hanging in with it,” she said.

Browne said if she had been armed with the information that there were dangerous dogs in the area, she would have avoided it. She also said she’s in favor of the additional staff proposed measures to inform dog owner’s what’s at stake if they don’t leash their pets.

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