Is the definition of a “pit bull” dog” not unconstitutionally vague?

Ontario, Canada


The following excerpt is from Cochrane v. Ontario (Attorney General), 2007 CanLII 9231 (ON SC):

The respondent cited numerous cases by various American courts that came to similar conclusions that various definitions of “pit bull” dogs were not unconstitutionally vague. I would note that not one definition was identical to that used in Ontario. In several cases, the definitions were arguably more precise or more limited, as for example, when the definition was limited to three specified breeds and dogs that predominantly conformed to specified breed standards. However, in Ohio v. Anderson, the definition of “a breed commonly known as a pit bull dog” was arguably less precise than the Ontario definition.

There is one American case, however, in which a court has upheld a challenge to the legislation. That is the case of Toledo v. Tellings. The City of Toledo’s ordinance regulated the ownership or vicious dogs. Vicious dogs were defined to include a dog that “(b)elongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog”. The court distinguished previous cases on the basis that they relied on “…now outdated information which perpetuated a stereotypical image of pit bulls” (at para. 63).

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