Quebec introduces legislation to ban pit bulls, other dog breeds
A bill introduced in the National Assembly on Thursday would ban several breeds and types of dogs, including pit bulls.
Among the dog types listed as potentially dangerous in Bill 128 are pit bulls, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, rottweilers, certain cross-breeds and all dogs trained to protect, guard or attack.
A provincial committee that examined the issue identified those breeds as being the most likely to kill or maul humans and other animals.
"That list may evolve in the future because the government will be able to use new statistics, new scientific literature, to update this list," said Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux.
Recognizing that certain breeds are trendy among those who like aggressive dogs, the bill gives the government the power to modify the list of dangerous dogs by decree, and so will not require additional legislation in the future.
The bill would also allow the government to prohibit any dog deemed potentially dangerous, including pit bull type dogs. The bill does contain a grandfather clause for pet owners deemed responsible, which would allow them to keep dogs of that type already in their possession.
Under the proposed law, any dog that has bitten or attacked a person causing major injury or death would be euthanized.
Coiteux said the bill was prompted by the 2016 death of Christiane Vadnais, who was mauled to death by a neighbour’s dog.
"We have experienced a number of tragedies in Quebec due to attacks by specific breeds of dogs, particularly pit bulls," said Coiteux.
The dog involved in last year's deadly attack was initially identified as a pit bull. Although the owner had registered it as a boxer, neighbours said he frequently told people it was a pit bull.
Lise Vadnais is relieved to see some good come from her sister's death.
"I'm very happy to see strong laws being introduced to promote citizen safety. It's a good victory for all citizens. It's satisfying to see the government recognize dangerous dogs," said Vadnais.
"I don't understand the reaction from pit bull owners because you have your dog, you can keep them but your next dog will have to be a different breed. That's all."
Mayor Denis Coderre was happy to see the province follow Montreal's lead.
"I'm very satisfied. There was a pit bull ban to start but it's about dangerous dogs too, it's not just based on the kind of breed," said Coderre.
"Secondly we are talking a balanced approach like we've done for those who already own a pit bull they have to comply with certain conditions."
Opposition leaders largely support the measure to ban and restrict potentially dangerous animals.
"Our first concern is for the security of the people on the street that should not be fearful of being attacked by a dog," said Jean-Francois Lisée.
Coalition Avenir Quebec's Sylvie D'Amours said the bill leaves municipalities holding the bag.
"This bill places an sizable burden on municipalities which will have to enforce the law," said D'Amours.
John Truss, dog trainer agrees there should be rules and legislation regarding dangerous dogs, but he does not favour breed-specific legislation.
"They've left it open so they can add breeds to it as they feel fit," said Truss. "Why are they picking on a specific breed."
Truss does not think that dangerous behaviour by a dog can be determined by its pedigree.
"There are some characteristics you can determine like that but you can't determine whether a dog is dangerous strictly on his breed."
Coiteux said he knows there will be objections, but says his main concern is protecting people.
"Throughout the territory of Quebec people will be safer, they will feel safer. Now I understand that some groups will oppose particular measures that are proposed in this legislation, but I think overall, that there is a broad concensus to go with a legislation like this one," said Coiteux.
That's a message Vadnais hopes the owners of dangerous dogs will heed.
"I like dogs but people need to realize that we need to protect citizens. I encourage all dangerous dog owners to consider another breed for your next dog."