Pit bull promises: Montreal's breed-specific dog bylaw to be suspended Dec. 20
Published Friday, December 8, 2017 2:22PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, December 9, 2017 10:35AM EST
Montreal’s new leadership has taken the first steps to fulfilling a major campaign promise, announcing on Friday plans to suspend controversial legislations regarding dogs enacted by the previous administration.
City councillor Craig Sauve, responsible for the portfolio pertaining to animals, said bylaw 16-060, which concerns pit bull type animals, will be suspended pending ratification by the Executive Committee at its next meeting on Dec. 20.
Sauve said regulations for dangerous dogs, regardless of breed, would stay in place.
"We believe that we can provide better security if we look at all dogs as potentially dangerous dogs and to make things simpler for our animal control staff as well," said Sauve.
Pit bull-type dogs won’t be required to wear a muzzle -- but any dog deemed aggressive or bites someone 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 what breed.
“We will continue to improve animal control regulations, in order to provide Montreal with the best possible services in this area,” said Sauve.
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 after Dec. 20.
An overhauled animal regulation bylaw is expected to be presented to city council in 2018.
The Montreal SPCA fought the bylaw in court, and hailed Friday's announcement as a victory.
“We’re very happy at the SPCA to know that as of Dec. 20th we will able to place all our dogs into adoption regardless of what they look like,” said SPCA lawyer Sophie Gaillard. “What we’re also hearing today from the city is this is just a first step towards a complete overhaul of our animal care bylaw. So we really look forward to working with the city to develop a more progressive and responsible bylaw that’ll be in effect in Montreal.”
The city will be doing consultations with experts, scientists, dog behaviouralists and dog psychologists on the new bylaw.
The controversial bylaw banning certain dog breeds was passed by former mayor Denis Coderre in 2016 under vocal opposition.
Lise Vadnais was hurt by the news the ban would be overturned.
“I am very shocked and disappointed,” said Vadnais, whose sister Christiane was mauled to death by a dog in her backyard by her neighbour's dog in June 2016. There will be many other deaths in the future.”
Vadnais is in favour of the breed-specific legislation, which was spurred by her sister's death.
“To think that because the owners will take good care of their dogs, it will protect the population, it is a false sense of protection,” she said.
Sauve disagrees, saying the bylaw missed the mark.
"I think the BSL or pit bull legislation gave people a false sense of security, somehow letting them say pit bulls are now muzzled and banned and now everything's good, but it's not true," he said.
Those with pit bull-type dogs should continue to follow the current bylaw until Dec. 20.