Montreal has today voted to ban Pit Bulls in its city. The council voted 37-23 in favour of the controversial bill with Mayor Denis Coderre saying ‘I have a responsibility as the mayor of Montreal to protect the citizens’ prior to the vote.

The bill comes three months after Christiane Vadnais was fatally mauled by a dog originally thought to be a Pit Bull, although police say they are still waiting for a DNA test to confirm. Prior to this tragedy, the city was already looking to amend it’s dangerous dog laws and while CBS news reported at the time it wasn’t particularly leaning towards banning certain breeds, that has now changed.

What the bill means for dog owners

The new bylaw will apply to all 19 boroughs of the city and will define Pit Bulls as:

  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers
  • American Pit Bull Terriers
  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • Any dogs with a mix of these breeds
  • Any dog that presents characteristics of one of those breeds

Ryan O’Meara, publisher of K9 Magazine, who has spoken out against banning dog breeds and instead campaigned for owner education said, “We know first hand in the UK this is very dangerous territory because defining a ‘type’ is not only extremely difficult but also means dog breeds who don’t have any of the above breeds in their make up can be caught in the cross-fire purely based on their looks, regardless of breed.”

Those who own a dog breed covered in the now banned dog breeds list and already live in Montreal will need to obtain a licence for $150 to keep their pet.

Should the owner of a banned breed pass away, an amendment to the proposed bylaw will now allow the dog’s licence to be transferred to another person living at the same address, partner or direct family member.

Anyone convicted of violent crimes will be forbidden from owning a Pit Bull.

The bylaw also creates two categories of dogs of all breeds: at-risk and dangerous. At-risk dogs are those that exhibit aggressive behaviour, such as biting someone. Dangerous dogs are those that have killed someone or are deemed dangerous by an appointed expert.

New laws will be a waste of taxpayers money & needlessly cost dogs their lives

While banning certain breeds seems a move to ‘protect the public’ in the Major’s own words, other cities such as Toronto who already ban certain breeds haven’t seen numbers in attacks fall. In fact, there are virtually no Pit Bulls left in Toronto yet the number of dog bites has increased.

Animal welfare expert Ewa Demianowicz from Humane Society International/Canada has criticised the decision saying,  “We are extremely disappointed with the council’s decision to adopt archaic by-laws that are proven to be ineffective. Mayor Denis Coderre and his team have rejected scientific facts in favour of fear and misinformation. Laws that target a specific breed of dog do not work, and will only succeed in destroying families and killing innocent dogs without any improvement in public safety.”

She continued, “The by-laws adopted today are a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, and every Montrealer should be appalled by the Council’s irresponsible and illogical approach to this issue. If Mayor Coderre wants to put public safety first, he should focus on real solutions that will protect people and promote responsible pet ownership.”

The Montreal SPCA has announced that if this bylaw would have been effective this year, the organisation would have had to either relocate between 300 and 700 healthy and behaviorally-sound dogs, or they would have been put to sleep.

Previously the animal welfare body had said if a ban were to come into effect they would pull their dog control services from the area saying, “Like any organization, we need to act in a way that respects our fundamental values. Contributing to a system that would ultimately result in the euthanasia of healthy animals that do not pose any danger is a step that the Montreal SPCA cannot take,” says Benoit Tremblay, Executive Director.

UPDATE: Read the latest news and judge’s ruling to temporarily suspend the bill here.

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