A dogged fight by activists to repeal Montreal's dangerous dog legislation
Published Saturday, July 15, 2017 3:35PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 15, 2017 7:33PM EDT
Pit bull lovers made their love for their pooches known on Saturday at a loud protest that wound its way through downtown Montreal.
The demonstration was part of the Global Anti-Breed Specific Legislation Day, where dog owners came out against laws that target specifics types of dogs such as pit bulls.
Among those who came out to show their support was Steven Galli, an unlikely supporter of the dogs. Galli said he was bitten in the face by a pit bull when he was five-years-old, an attack which left him with permanent nerve damage.
Still, he never blamed the dog, saying it was just a product of its environment.
“It was owned by a very bad person that turned it into a weapon,” he said. “Because of that, it turned against people. It was beaten, never allowed to be walked or socialized.”
Galli said the dog that bit him could have been any breed. Now, he owns a husky-boxer mix that resembles a pit bull, but is just a “goof” that wants to play all the time.
“These dogs are sensitive and they’re powerful but that doesn’t make them dangerous,” he said. “People make them dangerous when they just leave them outside. Every case has been a case of negligence. Almost every person that owned a pit bull that attacked another person, they (were arrested) for aggression.”
Breed-specific laws have been a hot topic in Montreal for over a year. In June 2016, 55-year-old Christiane Vadnais was brutally mauled to death by a neighbour’s escaped dog. The dog’s owner, Franklin Junior Frontal, was never charged.
Vadnais’ death led to several Quebec municipalities, including Montreal, introducing new breed-specific laws and other new rules pertaining to breeds that could be classified as dangerous.
In April, Quebec Public Safety Minister Martin Coiteux tabled province-wide legislation that could force municipalities to ban any breed of dog the government deems potentially dangerous.
Hearings on the bill are expected to begin in the fall.
Montreal city councillor Sterling Downey, who was present at Saturday’s protest, said he hopes the Liberal government takes a cue from the city of Chateauguay, where a 30-year-old anti-pit bull law was recently repealed.
“We’ve seen great leadership recently by people like the mayor of Chateauguay, who after 30 years of having a ban in place has repealed their ban locally,” he said. “Their ban was even more strict. There was a shoot on sight if police wanted to of these dogs.”
Downey encouraged dog lovers to continue speaking out in order to fight back against the bans. Scarlett Mackenzie of the anti-BSL advocacy group Projet Pit Bull, noted the onus will be on owners in more ways than one.
Many people present at the demonstration were not accompanied by their pets.Mackenzie noted that certain breeds cannot be brought into the city thanks to the new rules, even if they're wearing a muzzle.
"It means a lot of people cannot bring their dogs," she said. "(We're also) going to be making noise and we don't want to frighten the dogs, so it's a safety concern. That's our number one concern, making sure people are safe and dogs are safe."