Valérie Plante was just sworn in as the Mayor of Montréal last Thursday and has without a doubt, hit the ground running. What's on her to do list? - Repealing the city's discriminatory Pit Bull-type dog ban.
The City Council voted 37-23, in favor of the ban on September 27th, 2016, and the law was rushed into effect only six days later.
The controversial bylaw(1) included specific laws for any dog belonging to, crossbred between, or showing several genetic or physical traits of the:
American Pit Bull Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier, or the
Staffordshire Bull Terrier race
And required that anyone in the city owning such dogs:
Immediately obtain a special Pit Bull-type dog license
Spay/neuter their dogs by December 31, 2019
Microchip their dog by December 31, 2019
Allow local authorities to inspect their residence for confirmation of bylaw compliance
Not impede in any way or hinder the authorities from carrying out such inspections
Keep their dog muzzled at all times while outside a building
The bylaws also grant local authorities to:
Order the capture, seizure or euthanasia of any dog belonging to an owner that is not following such laws, or a dog that is 'deemed dangerous' by the authorities regardless.
Order an owner to euthanize their dog and provide prove of such euthanasia within 48 hours of such order.
Cruel and Ill-Advised Discrimination
Not only do many find this to be in violation of their constitutional rights, but heartbreakingly
and unjustifiably discriminatory.This holds true especially from the perspective of several animal shelters and rescue organizations, reputable dog trainers, and families who's 'Pit Bull-Type' dogs sleep right next to their children, demonstrating nothing but gentle love and affection.
Science and animal research also backs the above perspective. Research has proven that it is not the breed of a dog that leads to a dog bite, but the behavior of the dog, how the dog has been trained, the stress the dog was put under in the moments leading to the incident, as well as the behavior of the individual involved.
Factually speaking, dog bites are most often a result of human failure, and violent dogs, the result of violent owners. According to a study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, regardless of the breed, owners of vicious dogs had, “significantly more criminal behaviors than other dog owners."(2)
Unfortunately, Pit Bulls often attract criminals who partake in activities, such dog fighting, because they capitalize on the breeds' tenacity. Overall, however, these dogs want to please their humans, and violent owners use those characteristics against them, instilling vicious behavior.
Under Mayor Plante, the City Council plans to gain some insight from veterinarians, the SPCA and dog owners as they move forward with a replacement law to be considered immediately.
"We [are] going to look at dog owners and whether they have been educated about their dogs and whether they've been getting any training."
Craig Sauve, current city councilor, explained their intended approach for replacing the bylaw, stating, "Instead of banning one particular breed of dogs, we are going to focus on how dogs are brought up." ... "We [are] going to look at dog owners and whether they have been educated about their dogs and whether they've been getting any training.
"According to the Canadian Press, Sauve followed up by pointing out that, “it all comes down to helping them be better owners which will ultimately reduce the number of dog bites."
We can't agree more, as his statements are not only compassionate and also based on science, but quite frankly, common sense.
Mayor Plante recently stated, "My nickname, for those who don't know it, I'm the happy warrior. So I might have a new role as mayor, but I will always fight for you." From what we can tell so far, she plans to fight for the animals of Montréal too.
We can only hope that other cities with similar bans will follow suit. In the meantime, this will certainly provide us with something to be thankful for this holiday season.
(1) Ville De Montréal By-Law, 16-060, By-Law Concerning Animal Control, Sept. 2016, http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/sel/sypre-consultation/afficherpdf?idDoc=27629&typeDoc=1
(2) Journal of Forensic Sciences, 54(3):699-703, ‘Vicious Dogs: The antisocial behaviors and psychological characteristics of owners,' May 2009