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August 4, 2016

New information on dog attack highlights that breed specific legislation is not the answer

Humane Society International/Canada calls on all municipalities and the provincial government to adopt breed-neutral legislation

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Brooks, a pit bull type dog. Phillip Marshall for The HSUS

Last week, Humane Society International/Canada obtained a document that raised serious doubts about the breed identification of the dog involved in the June 2016 death of a Pointe-aux-Trembles woman. The majority of media outlets, as well as the police report, identified the dog in question as being a pit bull-type dog, whereas the owner registered the dog as being a boxer. To date, this is the only material evidence of the dog’s breed(s) which has been made public and it highlights the inherent flaw of breed specific dog regulations and the unreliability of visual breed identification.

Additionally, reports have mentioned that the dog was involved in two cases of biting incidents prior to the fatal attack on Christiane Vadnais. However, authorities took no known action to address these situations, evaluate the dog’s behaviour or implement safety measures to prevent future incidents.

HSI/Canada reiterates its call on all municipalities of Quebec and the provincial government to handle the issue of dog bites and attacks by referring to experts on this issue and adopting laws that are breed-neutral. 

Ewa Demianowicz, campaign manager for HSI/Canada said: “Scientific data has proven, time and time again, that breed is not a factor in determining if a dog is more likely to bite, and experts agree that breed-specific legislation does not work. Moreover, this situation underscores the fact that visually identifying a dog breed is difficult and can lead to errors and confusion. Focusing this debate on breed or targeting specific breeds of dogs through legislation will not prevent future attacks, nor will it make our communities any safer.

“Officials have the responsibility to trace back the events that led to this tragedy and identify the real issues at cause. It is highly disturbing that the dog involved in the attack had a biting history, but that the authorities took no action to confront the situation while ‘red flags’ were blatantly ignored. If current by-laws were properly enforced, chances are that tragic events such as those of last June could have been prevented, whereas banning certain breeds will achieve nothing in terms of public safety.”

Municipalities like Beaconsfield have adopted efficient measures regarding dangerous dogs that apply to all dog-owners, regardless of breed. HSI/Canada encourages Quebecers to take action and contact their municipal and provincial representatives to voice their opinion against breed-specific legislation.

Help stop breed-specific legislation in Quebec.


  • 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.

Media contact: Christopher Paré, 514 395-2914, cpare@hsi.org  

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