Montreal’s Decision to Ban Pit Bulls Met With Worldwide Protest

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a kind animal. They love playing with children, getting tummy rubs, and are some of the most loyal companions in the world, but within the boundaries of the City of Montreal, they’re marked for death.

Montreal city councillors voted 37-23 in favor of breed-specific legislation outlawing pit bulls and any dog that resembles a pit bull, including Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, or mixes of those breeds. Owners of such dogs have until Dec. 31, 2016 to obtain a special permit and muzzle their dogs in public, or have their pets euthanized.

“For dogs that don’t have an ‘owner’ on the day of the passing of the legislation, the way the legislation is drafted, the dogs have to be euthanized,” said Alanna Devine, of the Montreal SPCA. “Based on the way legislation is drafted, they can’t be adopted.”

Of the 2,000 dogs the Montreal SPCA sees each year, Devine told The Dodo, around 700 fall under the city’s definition of a pit bull.

Montreal Mayor Denis Codere sees the decision as a necessary protection for the citizens of the city.

“My duty as mayor of Montreal is making sure I am working for all Montrealers,” he said. “And I am there to make sure they feel safe and that they are safe.”

The CBC reported that Montreal initially planned to set a 2018 deadline, but the death of Christiane Vadnais after a pit bull attack prompted the city commission to pass the sweeping ban on September 27.

“A Montreal woman died because someone didn’t have control of their dog,” said Montreal city councillor Anie Samson.

The dog that attacked Vadnais was initially reported as a pit bull, according to CBC News, but DNA test results have not been conclusive.

City councillor Sterling Downey opposed the measure, voicing his concerns with how it could be applied.

“As a city councillor I am going to be very transparent with you,” Sterling Downey said. “I’m still confused by the bylaw and how it’s going to be applied. I am not even clear on the fact that if you have a puppy that’s a pit bull, does that dog by definition, regardless if it weighs 10 pounds have to wear a muzzle in public? So again [the bylaw] doesn’t address that.”

Along with millions of upset canine allies, even Canadian veterinarians are calling the ban out for its disconnected approach to a behavioral problem not related to an animal’s breed.

“I, professionally, morally, ethically am not required to euthanize those animals,” Montreal veterinarian Karen Joy Goldenberg told CBC News.

The Montreal SPCA has ended its contract with the city and “strongly encourages boroughs and municipalities to adopt progressive and ethical animal related by-laws – which most certainly is not the case with BSL.”

Montreal’s pit bull ban has attracted a lot of attention but it isn’t the first example of BSL in Canada. Follow this link to read more about what cities in Canada are outlawing pit bulls.