Toronto Welcomes MLB Player, But Not His Pit Bull

MLB player Mark Buerhle and his family can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to finding a place to live with Slater, their 2-year-old American Staffordshire terrier.

Last year, Slater made news after Buerhle signed a four-year contract with the Miami Marlins in a city with a breed ban. The Buerhles got around that one by living roughly 30 minutes away in Broward County, where they were outspoken advocates for adoption and ending breed specific legislation (BSL).

In November, Buerhle was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where once again Slater found himself unwelcome thanks to a provision banning pit bulls in Ontario’s Dog Owner’s Liability Act (DOLA), which went into effect in 2005.

The Buerhles were faced with a few options: Live across the border in the U.S., let someone else care for Slater for the season or Jamie Buerhle, the kids and three other family dogs could stay 800 miles behind with Slater.

According to ESPN, the last option was the obvious choice for the Buehrles.

“We’re not trying to make people feel sorry for us,” said Buehrle. “Obviously they’re going to say, ‘You make a lot of money. Boo-hoo.’ I know it’s part of baseball and every person deals with it, but this is our first time being away from each other all season. We’re going to travel and see each other and make it work. But those nights when we have a Sunday day game and I can go home and have dinner with the family and give the kids a bath and put them to bed, that’s what I’m going to miss.”

“A lot of people have said, ‘We’ll just keep Slater for you,’” Jamie added. “To me, that would be like if we moved somewhere that only allowed boys. I wouldn’t leave my daughter behind. Six or seven months is a lot of time. Slater would adjust. He’s real easygoing. But I don’t want him to bond with someone else. He’s our dog. That wasn’t really an option.”

Fortunately for the Buerhles, and Slater, they have the resources to deal the situation, but many others aren’t so lucky. Since the breed ban has been enacted, more than 1,000 innocent pit bulls have been torn from their families and killed. Animal advocates and pit bull lovers in Ontario have been fighting unsuccessfully to have the breed ban repealed and, while attempts have been unsuccessful so far, they have been getting support.

Last spring, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), published an open letter to all three of Ontario’s political party leaders, including Premier Dalton McGuinty, supporting the passage of Bill 16, which would remove breed specific provisions from the DOLA. The OVMA supported a science-based approach for repealing it and argued that it is obviously not effective in preventing bites since the overall number of dog bites has not declined since the ban was put in place Bite prevention education is a far better method for keeping the public safe.

According to the National Canine Research Council, there has been only one dog bite-related fatality involving a pit bull in Canada since 1964 and the description reads “drunken roommate provoked dogs.”

Others argue that breed bans are costly, difficult to enforce and also require dogs to be identified by breed, which can be nearly impossible to do accurately based on looks. Try it yourself.

As for Slater, he’s doing a pretty good job giving pit bulls a good name and illustrating why breed bans are so incredibly ridiculous. He’s already a Canine Good Citizen and working towards becoming a therapy dog.

“I don’t think everyone should own a pit bull, just like I don’t think everyone should own a Lab or a poodle or a Chihuahua,” said Jamie. “I think you should be responsible for whatever dog you choose. If you tether a Lab outside in your backyard all the time and treat it cruelly, I can guarantee it will be aggressive. People need to realize that. And if you do that, you should be held responsible.”

Hopefully, logic will eventually prevail in Ontario and the breed ban will be repealed.


Related Stories:

Why I Will Never Support Breed Bans

Victory! Massachusetts Bans BSL, Overhauls Animal Protection Laws

In Memory of Lennox, Dog Put to Death for Being a Pit Bull


Photo credit: stephskardal


Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold4 years ago

Boo Hoo to Toronto. Wake up and smell the roses. It is not the dog that is the problem, IT IS THE OWNER.!!!

Karen Gee4 years ago

Stop BSL in Ontario

Cindi S.
Cindi s4 years ago

I would have told Toronto to go to hell.

Opinion Ated
Opinion Ated4 years ago

Hey look, a recent attack! Little girl in critical condition after being mauled by Cane Corso and Pit Bull.

Another one yesterday, sadly. Little boy in very criticial condition. :(

Pit bull jumps FENCE and pulls man off his lawn mower! Mauls him! :(

Read more:

Opinion Ated
Opinion Ated4 years ago

Labrador seriously injured by pit bull, yesterday, April 02 2013

City worker bit by three pit bulls April 02 2013

Little bit in the face by pit bulls a few hours ago, April 03 2013

Where are all of the other abused and inbred dog breeds doing this kind of crap?

Read more:

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

"I have owned an inter # 3 breed STILL JAWS"...........Becka, what on earth does that mean? I have been very honest in stating that I am NOT a fan of Pits, and although I'm not, I'm also not going to be part of spreading untruths and succumbing to rumor and inuindo about them. I'd say "the breed", but regardless of what many think, there IS no such thing as the "Pitbull" breed in and of itself. The point I'm making is that I've also heard this about the "locking jaws" and while it is true that the dogs that comprise what are said to be "PITBULLS" have a tendency to bite and not "release" like many other breeds, their jaws are not any more capable of "locking" than any other breed. I've read a dozen websites with answers provided by scientific research. Now, having said that, I've also had GSD's (4 times), Rotties and Dobies (twice), amongst other breeds. The first Dobie got into a fight with one of my Collies and had her by the back of the neck. She would NOT release, no matter what. It took a blow to the top of HER head with a shovel and almost knocking her COLD to get her to let go. Collies "slash", so the fighting "style" is different. Now, think about it...........IF a Pit had the ability to LOCK it's jaws, how do you account for victims of their attacks to sustain 200 or more bite wounds? Why would it take 200 bites if they could bite once and LOCK on? They could use a lot less energy by biting just once and then letting their victim bleed to death or suffoca

becka w.
becka w4 years ago

I have owned an inter # 3 breed STILL JAWS.
AGGRESSIVE owner JAWS RIPPING some innocent target of poor owner training hate crimes using DOG as weapon.

Mick P.
Mick P.4 years ago

For my job I go door to door in residential and business neighborhoods, so I have a lot of experience with strange dogs. All the bulldog-derived breeds, including pitbulls, are always friendly. They can be dangerous - to those with a dog-spittle allergy. Everyone else is totally safe from pit bulls in my experience. Plus they're cute.

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Caroline, your story is very typical of what many people have gone thru, but you're assuming the boxer would have not behaved as it did with a "good" owner. You may be right, but Boxers are one of the breeds that are "not for everyone" in that they require a lot of training and discipline..........they're very high energy dogs and need a ton of exercise. I don't mean any disrespect or offense, but you said after many sessions of dog classes, your St. Bernard learned to walk on a leash? Why did it take "MANY" sessions in dog classes? "Even allow him to play with children"? That's a normal trait of the breed. They're bred to RESCUE people! I'll assume your young dog had been abused before you got him?

Rory Tipping
Rory Tipping4 years ago

Our group 'Animal Warriors Global' currently has an active petition to end this ridiculous ban. Please sign and share.