29 September 2016

WELFARE - Montreal SPCA Fights City Breed Ban

This week Montreal city council passed a bylaw banning pit bull type dogs and digital media has erupted with outrage.

Breed specific legislation (BSL) is a controversial topic with passionate opinions on both sides.

The Montreal SPCA had threatened to tear up its contract for animal control services in Montreal if a breed ban went ahead.

They have taken their opposition to the new bylaw a step further - the SPCA filed for a judicial review and a stay of the bylaw in Quebec Superior Court on Wednesday.

"What we're asking as a first step is a judge from Quebec Superior Court suspend the application of the sections of the bylaw that deal with 'pit bull-type dogs' in order to eventually have these sections be eventually declared illegal, null and without effect,"  Alanna Devine, director of animal advocacy for the Montreal SPCA told the Canadian Press.

Devine said her organization supports measures to reduce serious dog bites, but doesn't think a breed ban will be effective.

The Montreal SPCA takes about 2,000 dogs into the city shelters it runs every year. Among them, she says, about a third, or 700, meet the bylaw's very broad standard as pit bulls or mixed with pit bulls or having characteristics of a pit bull type dog.

"Based on the way legislation is drafted, they can't be adopted," Devine told the Dodo.

All these animals, good-tempered or not, will have to be euthanized under the new legislation.

The Montreal bylaw was enacted in response to the fatal mauling of Christiane Vadnais several months ago.

After the vote was passed by a 37-23 margin, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre told reporters, "My duty as mayor of Montreal is making sure I am working for all Montrealers. And I am there to make sure they feel safe and that they are safe."

The dog that attacked Vadnais was initially identified by police and media as a pit bull, but the dog’s breed is in question because he was registered as a boxer and police admit they are not experts in dog identification.

Critics of the bill claim it was enacted based on emotion and fear rather than science.

Ewa Demianowicz, a spokesperson for the Canadian branch of Humane Society International, told the Montreal Gazette in the last 30 years in Quebec, five other people have been killed by dogs, and all five cases involved dogs from the husky family.

The Quebec Order of Veterinarians has a lodged a formal complaint against the ban, saying its members have the right to choose whether they want to euthanize a dog.

The American SPCA (ASPCA) has even released a statement condemning Montreal’s bylaw.

“Studies have concluded that dog-breed identifications based on looks alone are completely unreliable—and the confusion only grows when dealing with mixed breeds, which is a fatal flaw in BSL,” the ASPCA wrote.

They went on to say that with the growing realization that more progressive, well-rounded “dangerous dog laws” that address individual animals and owners are more effective public policy than blanket breed bans, the trend in recent years has been for BSL to be repealed.

Other professional organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers all agree that BSL does not work.

The new Montreal bylaw will come into effect next week, apply to all 19 boroughs and define pit bulls as:
  • Staffordshire bull terriers
  • American pit bull terriers
  • American Staffordshire terriers
  • Any mix with these breeds
  • Any dog that presents characteristics of one of those breeds.

Anyone who currently owns a dog of those breeds and lives in Montreal will have to acquire a special permit in order to keep their pet by Dec. 31, 2016.

  • The cost to register a pit bull or other dog deemed dangerous is $150.
  • Ownership of pit bulls and other dangerous dogs would be restricted to those 18 and older without criminal history of violence.
  • The animals would have to be microchipped and sterilized by Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Pit bull type dogs would also have to kept on a halter, muzzle and four foot leash whenever they are off their owner's property.

No comments:

Post a Comment