October 5, 2016
HSI/Canada applauds suspension of nonsensical Montreal pit bull dog ban
MONTREAL—Humane Society International/Canada is applauding the suspension of Montreal’s highly controversial and ill-conceived by-law banning pit bull-type dogs. The suspension will be upheld until a Quebec judge announces a final ruling on the problematic regulations, which could occur within a few months.
Ewa Demianowicz, campaign manager for HSI/Canada, stated:
“We are very happy with the judge’s decision to uphold the suspension of Montreal's discriminatory pit bull ban. This baseless bylaw flies in the face of sound science and a global trend against breed specific legislation. In the United States, 20 states have legislated against breed specific legislation because they know it is ineffective, unenforceable, cost prohibitive and results in needless euthanasia and significant hardship for dog owners. This decision confirms what so many Montrealers and Quebecers already know: that the key to safer communities isn’t breed bans, but carefully thought out measures that include education and responsible ownership.”
- There is no evidence that breed-specific laws reduce dog bites or attacks on people and no jurisdiction has been able to prove that this kind of legislation has improved public safety. After more than ten years of a breed ban in Ontario, rates of dog bites are higher than they have ever been. These laws are costly, cannot be effectively enforced, and unnecessarily harm families, dogs and communities.
- The Montreal by-law makes it impossible to definitely identify a pit bull type dog, meaning all large dogs have been at risk of being seized and euthanized at the discretion of by-law officers. The by-law bans any new Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, any dog mixed with these breeds, or any dog who presents characteristics of one of those breeds. However, the city has still not been able to tell citizens how to identify if their dog presents “physical characteristics” of pit bull type dogs, nor how to contest their dog’s classification as a pit bull if they disagree with it.
- The dog involved in the death of a woman in Montreal earlier this year was registered with the city as a boxer. The dog had been aggressive in at least two other situations and the city failed to take action under its existing by-laws.
- The best way to prevent dog bites is through proactive outreach across all sectors in the community. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec have clear position statements that do not support breed specific legislation.
- Experts have consistently found that no one breed is more likely to bite than another. There are factors that are scientifically linked to aggression in dogs, these include neglect, abuse, and leaving animals unsterilized; effective public safety legislation focuses on these areas instead of ineffective and harmful breed bans.
- In the past thirty years, six individuals have been killed by dogs in Quebec. Of the eight dogs involved in these deaths, seven were husky type dogs and the breed of the dog involved in the death of a Montreal woman in 2016 has not been conclusively determined. Notably, breed specific legislation rarely targets breeds other than pit bull type dogs.
- The Montreal SPCA has estimated that, at their shelter alone, between 300 to 700 healthy and behaviourally sound dogs would have been targeted by the ban had the by-law been in effect in 2016.
- Quebec is currently drafting a bill aimed at addressing dangerous dogs. HSI is working to stop Quebec from repeating Montreal's mistake. The public can help HSI stop BSL in the province of Quebec by visiting hsicanada.ca/bsl
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