Pit bull ban suspension small step in right direction


Ariana Portalatin

By Campus Reporter

Montreal’s controversial pit bull ban took effect Oct. 3 but was suspended the same day by a Quebec judge, while a legal challenge from Montreal’s SPCA—an animal welfare group—is pending, according to an Oct. 3 article from The Washington Post.

The internationally-denounced ban would have euthanized many unadopted dogs, prohibited acquisitions of pit bulls and imposed regulations on current owners, including a $150 permit fee. Dogs would also have to be sterilized, micro-chipped and vaccinated by March 31, 2017, and owners would undergo criminal background checks, according to an Oct. 4 article from BBC News.

This ban, commonly known as Breed Specific Legislation, was sparked by a fatal dog mauling in June. After 55-year-old Christiane Vadnais was killed by a neighbor’s dog, her family pressed for legislation, according to the BBC News article. Montreal voted Sept. 27 to place a citywide ban on pit bull breeds, according to a Montreal Gazette article of the same date.

BSL supporters insist some breeds are more violent than others and banning them will prevent attacks. Those opposed say BSL is unnecessary and leads to unfairly targeting dogs for their appearance. According to the Humane Society International in Canada, no proof exists that certain breeds are more aggressive. The exact breed of the dog that killed Vadnais awaits confirmation by DNA results, according to a Sept. 29 article from the Washington Post. However, in July, The Humane Society International revealed registration papers for the dog called it a boxer, not a pit bull.

Furthermore, BSL’s effectiveness is unproven, according to the ASPCA, citing a study of fatalities from dog bites from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which resulted in the CDC ultimately opposing BSL based on the inaccuracy of dog-bite data, difficulties identifying dog breeds, and complications enforcing BSL.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, aggressiveness in dogs can be a result of feeling startled or threatened, or indicative of medical issues. Dogs can also be taught to be aggressive by their owners or environment.

While many Canadian cities have BSL laws, others have alternative methods for dealing with dog attacks. Edmonton officials repealed its ban in 2012 and chose to focus on dogs’ behavior instead of breed, while Calgary never had a ban, choosing to hold owners accountable. In lieu of a suspension, Montreal’s unreasonable ban should have been overturned completely, with other cities following suit. An entire breed should not be banned based on the aggressiveness of a few or lead to the separation of a family and their beloved pets.