Montreal ends ban on pit bulls
Montreal’s pit bull ban has ended.
The city’s new leadership has fulfilled a campaign promise to repeal the most controversial parts of the animal control bylaw, which effectively banned pit bulls and similar types of dogs.
Projet Montreal city councillor Craig Sauvé, responsible for the portfolio pertaining to animals, presented the motion to the Executive Committee Wednesday morning, taking steps to officially amend bylaw 16-060.
The measures were ratified in the morning meeting.
"The pit bull-style dog will no longer be considered a dangerous breed in Montreal," Sauvé said. "We'll have a global approach that includes all dogs and I believe it's the right approach for Montreal."
Regulations for dangerous dogs, regardless of breed, will stay in place.
For Lise Vadnais, whose sister was killed in her backyard by a dog last year, the city's decision is devastating.
"Unfortunately [Valerie Plante] did not change her mind. I'm extremely disappointed and worried for Montrealers," said Vadnais.
Christiane Vadnais was mauled to death in her backyard in June 2016 by a dog that the coroner's report said was 7/8 American Staffordshire Terrier, one of the dog breeds that belongs to the pit bull group.
Her death prompted the changes to the animal control bylaw to create city-wide harmonization among regulations, and to ban pit bull type dogs, and impose rules on the ownership of dangerous dogs.
The new regulations also convinced thousands of dog owners, who had previously ignored the requirements to register their animals, to do so.
Vadnais said the changes by the Projet Montreal regime will not make anyone safer.
"Telling people we are going to make owners responsible and everything is going to be fine is giving them a false sense of security," said Vadnais.
Mayor Valerie Plante says banning pit bulls provides the same feeling.
"The responsible thing to do is to make sure that we don't create a false sense of security by targeting one type of dog," said Plante.
New regulations, new bylaw
Under the new regulation, no breeds or types of dogs are banned, and pit bull-type dogs won’t be required to wear a muzzle. Any dog deemed aggressive or bites someone, however, may be required to do so. Dogs over a certain weight will still have to wear a harness.
The City of Montreal will issue a single type of licence to dog owners, no matter the breed.
Dog owners with the special pit bull-type licence will be able to keep that one; it will be considered as a regular licence. Anyone needing a licence can get it at the regular fee as of Wednesday.
The overhauled animal regulation bylaw is expected to be presented to city council in 2018, after city councillors consult with experts, scientists, dog behaviouralists, and dog psychologists to make changes.
The bylaw banning certain dog breeds was passed at the urging of Mayor Denis Coderre in 2016.
Plante said Wednesday she is in favour of a global approach in dealing with dog bites and that her administration has a responsibility to avoid creating a false sense of security among the population.
"What we want is to make sure Montrealers are safe (and) we want to prevent dog bites," she said.
Opposition leader Lionel Perez said if the city wants to prevent bites, it should look to the information collected by municipal employees.
"The data is clear: almost 40 percent of all dog bites over the last two years in Montreal have been from pit bull-type dogs. Those facts don't lie," said Perez.
However Plante said identifying dog breeds remains a problem.
"We don't want to target one breed in particular. What we've seen in recent months is the complexity in identifying pit bull-type dogs."
Meanwhile the whole matter may be rendered moot, with the provincial government pondering a law to regulate animals across Quebec.
Having lost the support of her city, that's something Vadnais is counting on.
"I hope the Quebec government implements a law because we really need one."