As states across the U.S. enact anti-breed-discrimination laws preventing blanket restrictions from being placed on certain types of dogs, Canada is moving in the opposite direction.
The City of Quebec will begin enforcing a ban on Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and others look like they may belong to these breeds. Jan. 1, 2017, after which owning such a dog within city limits will be a crime, punishable by $1,000 fine. The City of Montreal is looking for an earlier date to ban Pit Bulls, and while those currently living in Montreal will not be kicked out, owners must muzzle their dogs in public.
“In the next six months, owners of Pit Bulls will have to resolve their situation, and that means getting rid of their Pit Bulls,” announced Quebec City mayor Régis Labeaume, who conceded that the new ordinance is in reaction to a dog attack in early June that left a 55-year-old Montreal woman dead.
Labeaume said that as a father he wouldn’t feel safe if he saw a Pit Bull in the neighboring yard.
“Even if a pit bull has never bitten, even if he appears to be friendly, the owner has six months to get rid of it,” Labeaume said.
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After the video of Labeaume’s announcement was posted to Facebook, the mayor faced a sharp and immediate backlash, and sought police security.
The SPCA Montreala has voiced opposition to the new law, citing the uselessness of similar bans and the fact that they only provide a “false sense of security.”
“The SPCA Montreal has always been, and will always be, concerned about dangerous dogs in our community and some of those dogs are Rottweillers, some are shepherds, others are poodles, some are mastiffs and some are mixed-breed pit bulls… however, the Montreal SPCA does not consider breed-specific legislation to be an effective or practical solution to this problem,” the SPCA released in a statement.
The SPCA is urging officials to adopt legislation that address addresses the “root causes of aggression:” including animal control bylaws that address sterilization , mandatory pet identification, proper education and socialization, effective licensing regulations, and accountability of pet guardianship for an animal’s behavior.
“Tougher laws need to address animal neglect that very often contributes to canine aggression, regardless of breed or physical appearance,” according to the SPCA Montreal.
After announcing the ban, Labeaume faced sharp criticism on Facebook.
As Canada pulls in its welcome mat and lets Pit Bull owners know where they stand, Quebec’s premier Philippe Couillard has said he will seek a province-wide ban on Pits, as neighboring Ontario has enacted.
“We’re looking at what they did and probably we’ll go in the same direction,” said Couillard.
But pushing Quebec in that direction may not solve the problem Canada’s legislators believe they face. Ontario banned Pit Bull breeds in 2005 and, according to Global News, dog attacks have been on a steady path toward record highs since 2012.
Laws that target specific breeds of dog have come under scrutiny recently in both Canada and the United States. Read more about how the authorities in one Michigan township have threatened to separate a man from his bulldog, Diggy, because he looks like a Pit Bull.
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