Montreal Passes Controversial Pit Bull Ban

Montreal city officials are facing backlash after passing a ban on Pit Bull ownership.

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Montreal's controversial Pit Bull ban passed Tuesday following a heated debate on the issue. DemureDragonfly/iStock/Thinkstock
Stephanie Brown

The Montreal city council approved a ban on Pit Bulls Tuesday despite opposition by those who claim breed-specific legislation is unfair and ineffective.

Under the new bylaw, which passed 37-23, new ownership of Pit Bull and “Pit Bull-type” dogs is banned in the Canadian city, CBC reports. Those who currently own such dogs will have to obtain a special permit by Dec. 31, 2016, to keep their pet and follow other rules, such as keeping their dog muzzled while out in public, or else the dog could be euthanized.

“My duty as mayor of Montreal is making sure I am working for all Montrealers,” Mayor Denis Coderre told CBC. “And I am there to make sure they feel safe and that they are safe.”

The decision comes a few months after Montreal resident Christiane Vadnais, 55, was mauled to death by her neighbor’s dog. The dog was initially identified as a Pit Bull, but police now say they are still waiting for DNA test results, CBC reports.

The ban on new ownership will go into effect on Oct. 3, 2016. According to CBC, the new bylaw will apply to all 19 boroughs and will define Pit Bulls as:

  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers,
  • American Pit Bull Terriers,
  • American Staffordshire Terriers,
  • Any mix with these breeds, and
  • Any dog that presents characteristics of one of those breeds.

The debate over a ban has waged for months. Animal rights groups and many Pit Bull owners and lovers took to the streets over the summer to protest breed-specific legislation. And now that the bylaw has passed, opponents continue to speak out over what they consider to be an irresponsible and illogical approach to the issue.

“If the city of Montreal truly wanted to ensure public safety, it would not have forced a rushed adoption of controversial legislation which is unfair, unenforceable, and, most importantly, ineffective,” the Montreal SPCA said in a statement.

The agency has threatened to stop providing its services over the ban.

Ewa Demianowicz, campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada, echoed the Montreal SPCA’s sentiments, saying the new law would kill “innocent dogs without any improvement in public safety.”

“Other municipalities, such as Calgary, have adopted effective measures, like enforcement of laws that apply to all dog breeds and access to low cost pet services, including spay/neuter and education, that have reduced dog bites and attacks without targeting specific breeds,” she said in a statement. “For reasons that defy logic, Montreal has rejected this model and instead opted for an ineffective breed ban.”

A Montreal-based coalition composed of lawyers and animal behavior experts plans to challenge the ban in court, CBC reports.

The ban on owing Pit Bulls means Pit Bulls, or Pit Bull-type dogs, currently in the city’s animal shelters will not be able to be adopted. If Pit Bulls can’t be adopted by new owners, shelters may have little choice but to euthanize the animals. As a result, some organizations are looking to help transport Pit Bulls to other parts of Canada. One such group, Freedom Drivers: Animal Rescue Transports, is looking for people to transport targeted Pit Bull-types to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, according to Global News.

For Montreal resident Erika Ashley Matta, she’s mainly worried about her 9-year-old Labrador/Pit Bull mix having to wear a muzzle.

“What happens if one day we are walking and a dog decides to come attack my dog that has a muzzle?” she asked Global News. “I don’t feel safe knowing that my dog will be vulnerable. I believe responsible training should be considered to teach the right path to these dogs.”

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