Langford man organizes walk to protest prospect of anti-pit bull legislation

Dog owners unite to walk this weekend at Clover Point in Victoria

Chloe Diercks

Chloe Diercks, at nearly three years old, loves her dog Britney.

Like any child would, she likes to sit on Britney, pull her ears, play with her tail and jowls and generally shows love and affection. Britney takes it all with patience and kindness.

For many, this would be an uncomfortable scene to watch, as Britney is a four-year-old Staffordshire Terrier, a pit bull breed.

On Sunday, Sept. 30 the Pit Bull Unite/Awareness Walk B.C. will be held in the Inner Harbour as a way for pit bull breed owners and supporters to show their resistance to any breed-specific legislation banning the dogs.

The walk is being organized by Chloe’s father Ryan Thirlwall, a Langford resident, as a response to the recent negative attention given to the breeds following two attacks in B.C., one in Kelowna and the other in White Rock.

Currently Ontario has a ban on pit bull breeds and the parents of the two children involved in the attacks are calling for legislation in B.C.

Thirlwall said his child and dog couldn’t make a better team. Bully breeds, such as the Staffordshire Terrior, were bred to be “nanny dogs”, Thirlwall said, and are therefore exceptionally loyal and affectionate.

“With proper ownership and care and love in the environment that they’re raised in, they will forever be a nanny dog,” Thirlwall said. “She’s a very great dog and my daughter loves her.”

With love, affection, boundaries and discipline, the pit bull breeds make wonderful pets, Thirlwall said.

Thrilwell sees a ban on pit bulls as a form of discrimination, and one which ends up reflecting on the owners of the breed as well as the dogs themselves. It’s more often the other way around, said Thirlwall, as poor ownership results in dangerous dogs.

“I think it’s unfair to stereotype each and every dog of the bully breed to be aggressive, to be dangerous, to be banned,” Thirlwall said.

This March Thrilwall walked from Nanaimo to Victoria in a tutu to raised money for bullying awareness programs. The success of that event inspired him to speak out for another cause he believes in.

The idea for the walk has taken off and similar events are now planned to take place at the same time in five other communities: Vancouver, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Kelowna and Grand Forks.

“At the same time, on the same day, for the same cause, we are all coming together to … educate the public,” Thrilwall said. “We are trying to eliminate the stigma of the bully breed. We want to see positive stories.”

All breeds of dogs are welcome at the walk, or people without dogs. Owners are asked to have their dogs in muzzles, if they have one, to avoid any unnecessary conflicts with other dogs.

The walk starts at noon and will go from Cloverdale Point to Fisherman’s Wharf Park, where there will be a talk from Wonderdogs dog trainer Ben Kersen at 2 p.m.

For more information visit Thirlwall’s Facebook page, 1,000,000 Strong for Anti-Pit Bull Ban in B.C.