Montreal has banned dogs called pit bulls – and I am shocked and horrified. This ban is likely a death sentence to many innocent dogs – and for no justifiable reason.
As always public officials offer a knee jerk response resulting from a dog attack. Same in this case. Nearly three months after a brutal dog attack that claimed the life of a Montreal woman,Christiane Vadnais, the city has passed the ban.
Montreal City Council voted Tuesday (September 27) in favor of changes to its animal control bylaw that included a ban on new ownership of pit bull and pit bull-type dogs. The final vote was 37-23 in favor of the ban.
“My duty as mayor of Montreal is making sure I am working for all Montrealers,” said Denis Coderre. “And I am there to make sure they feel safe and that they are safe.”
The law goes into effect on October 3.
The dog that attacked and killed the woman was initially identified as a pit bull, but police now say they are still waiting for DNA test results.
Supporters argue the new regulations give priority to human safety over dog safety and that pit bull bans in other jurisdictions decreased the number of severe dog bites. However, that statement is absolutely and totally untrue. According to a study co-authored by myself and Dr. Sagi Denenberg, DVM, DACVB, Dip. ECAWBM, MACVSc (Behaviour) published by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, breed bans have no affect on deterring serious dog attacks.
In this instance, the dog had apparently previously attacked twice. That’s not unusual when it comes to serious dog attacks. If dangerous dog laws were enforced in the first place (doesn’t matter what the dog breed is), then this wouldn’t have happened. Responsible dog ownership can prevent serious dog attacks and enforcement of appropriate dangerous dog laws are far more effective than breed bans.
The announcement has led a Montreal-based coalition, composed of lawyers and also experts in animal behavior opposed to the ban, to say it will move forward with its plan to launch a court challenge. Note the animal behavior experts – those who know, were ignored.
There’s no proof – NO PROOF – that dogs called pit bulls are any more dangerous than other dogs their size, though their size ranges widely – and that’s because dogs called pit bulls are mixed breeds in the first place. Pit bull bans are also nebulous since the community doesn’t even really know what it is banning. It is NOT banning a breed, but instead banning dogs with a certain look or phenotype. A ban based on looks seems wrong, doesn’t it?
There are countless references to demonstrate that breed bans need not be enacted, and better for the community if they are not enacted as Best Friends Animal Society explains.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, Humane Society of the United States and Centers for Disease Control bans collaboratively studied the issue several years ago and agreed that bans make no sense as public policy. Many cities than enacted bans in the 1980’s and 1990’s (because it was then the thing to do) have since rescinded the bans, because there’s been no benefit.
I’ve never seen any scientific documentation to demonstrate that breed bans make any sense, or that all dogs called pit bulls (nearly always mixed breeds) are any more dangerous than any other breed or mix.
I’ve written about this topic many times, and have testified around the country.
I am shocked that in a City as large and as cosmopolitan as Montreal, there are so many public officials who are so dim-witted.