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June 23, 2016

Breed-specific legislation not the answer, says HSI/Canada

Targeting dogs by breed is ineffective in preventing tragic incidents

  • Laws and policies restricting certain breeds may break up families, but they won't make a community safer. Sally Ryan

MONTREAL—In recent weeks, the tragic death of a woman who was attacked by her neighbour’s dog in the Montreal borough of Pointe-aux-Trembles has prompted much discussion about how municipalities can most effectively manage dogs to ensure community safety. The following is a statement from Ewa Demianowicz, campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada, urging communities to reject ineffective, breed based measures:

“We strongly urge municipalities to take an objective, fact-driven approach to preventing tragic incidents from ever happening again in our communities. We understand that trauma and fear lead to calls for immediate and drastic action, however, breed based laws are archaic and misinformed approaches to the issue of managing dogs and building safe communities. Breed-specific legislation creates an illusion of safety. It distracts the public from the real issues at stake and diverts resources from more effective animal control and public safety initiatives. These laws are not founded in science or credible data, but on myths and misinformation surrounding different breeds. Their impact on dogs, families and animal shelters, however, is heartbreakingly real. Humane Society International/Canada supports legislation that defines expectations for dog owners, regulates the behavior of dangerous dogs, regardless of breeds, and emphasizes on owner responsibility to prevent future incidents.”

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  • There is no evidence that breed-specific laws reduce dog bites or attacks on people, and experts have found that no breed is more likely to bite than another. In fact, no jurisdiction has been able to prove that this kind of legislation has improved public safety.
  • It is very important to understand that no breed ban has ever effectively eliminated restricted dogs from the community. These laws fly in the face of the human-animal bond and citizens will risk law-breaking to keep their companion animals with them.
  • Breed bans and restrictions force dogs out of homes and into shelters, taking up kennel space and resources that could be used for animals who are truly homeless.
  • The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec have clear position statements that do not support breed specific legislation.

HSI/Canada calls on all municipalities of Quebec and the provincial government to truly address the issue of dog bites and attacks by referring to experts on this issue and adopting laws that are breed-neutral. HSI/Canada also encourages Quebecers to take action and contact their municipal and provincial representatives to voice their opinion against breed-specific legislation.


Media contact: Christopher Pare o: 514 395-2914 c: 438 402-0643, cpare@hsi.org

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