The majority of pit bull owners should be able to keep their dogs, an advisory group tasked with determining how best to handle the matter has decided.

The recommendations, released Wednesday, suggest that pit bulls and other so-called aggressive dogs should not face an outright ban in Quebec – but rather, owners who have committed offences including violent crimes or cruelty to animals should be banned from owning them.

The group recommends creating two categories. “Dangerous dogs,” would include pit bulls that have a history of serious bites or attacks. “Potentially dangerous dogs” would include dogs weighing 20 kilograms or more, are trained for protection purposes or have a history of minor bites or attacks. A dog can also be given either of these labels by a veterinarian or other authority.

“Dangerous dogs” will be required to have a harness and muzzle when they are outside (whether in private or public places), an electronic microchip, and be sterilized. Owners will be required to have a fence around their yards.

“Potentially dangerous dogs” with no history of problems will be required to wear a halter or harness – but not a muzzle – in public places and owners must register their pets annually with the city.

A total of ten recommendations were made to the province in the final report made by the working group, established in June by Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux following the death of Christiane Vadnais, who was fatally mauled by a dog in her backyard. Police reported that the dog was a pit bull, though it was later found to have been registered as a boxer. The animal had attacked before.

So far it is unclear how the government will address the recommendations, submitted to Coiteux on Wednesday. Earlier this month, Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said he would be in favour of a ban on pit bulls regardless of the advisory group's recommendations because of the irreversible damage dog bites can cause.

Montreal has announced a bylaw banning pit bulls purchased after September 2016 with a goal to phase them out completely. Several other Quebec municipalities have also announced bans or restrictions on pit bulls.

The report claims there are 164,000 dog bites by dangerous dogs every year in Quebec.

Full report here (French only)

-With files from The Canadian Press