Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre apparently believes dog owners, as well as animal behavior experts, veterinarians, and Montreal SPCA are a special interest group.
Following a dog attack that claimed the life of a Montreal woman, Christiane Vadnais, the city passed a somewhat confusing breed ban that was to go into effect October 3, 2016. However, only days later, the ban was suspended by Quebec Superior Court Judge Louis Gouin. The judge rattled off a series of queries before lawyers even began their arguments, beginning with, “How is ‘pit bull’ even defined?”
In Justice Louis Gouin’s decision, he found the provisions dealing with pit bull-type dogs raise numerous red flags and merit further review.
According to CBC News, the judge will wait until there is a final court ruling on the SPCA’s legal challenge of the Montreal breed-ban bylaw. Aside from the SPCA, veterinarians and animal behavior experts have spoken out against the breed ban. Of course, so have dog owners around the globe, including in Montreal.
A study conducted by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, co-authored by myself and Sagi Denenberg, DVM, DACVB, Dip. ECAWBM, MACVSc (Behaviour), has demonstrated that breed bans have not done a thing to enhance public safety. Denenberg coincidentally lived in Canada when this paper was published in 2014.
“We will not yield to threats nor interest groups,” says Mayor Coderre. “We reconfirm our intention to ban pit bull type dogs from Montréal… We will not compromise when it comes to the safety of our fellow Montrealers.”
Mayor Coderre is using his political pull and public platform to blast back via a letter released today (October 6). In that letter, he says, “My top priority will always be people and their safety. That is why we adopted a by-law concerning dangerous dogs and one in particular, the pit bull. Pit bulls have been banned in numerous cities throughout Quebec, Ontario, and around the world.”
He doesn’t mention the myriad of communities in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, as well as the entire state of Ohio, that have rescinded similar bans because they haven’t worked.
He failed to mention the success Calgary has had at reducing dog bites through public education, when at one time a breed ban was considered there. Also, Edmonton had a pit bull ban, but repealed it in 2012 after a comprehensive survey of how other cities handled the issue, combined with pressure from the animal community activists who said breed-specific bans aren’t the way to go. Enforcement of the ban was also an issue, because it was costly (to taxpayers) and was ineffective.
In Toronto, there is a breed ban. Paul Di Salvo, spokesman for Toronto Public Health, told CBC News the number of reports of dog biting incidents in Toronto rose from 1,028 in 2010 to 1,442 in 2015.
Coderre continues, “We are disappointed by this turn of events. The by-law was designed to ensure the safety of all Montrealers by requiring all owners of pets—particularly dangerous ones—to comply with certain regulations.”
What he doesn’t say is that dogs that have an appearance of a pit bull under his provision would be assumed to inherently be dangerous. Without any genetic proof, just because a dog looks a certain way (likely a mixed breed dog with no pit bull in it, according to various studies), the dog–even if it is clearly a friendly dog with no history of aggression–would be assumed to be a public safety risk.
Mayor Coderre adds, “We knew we would have to face pro-pit bull lobbyists. The debate quickly became emotional, which we find regrettable.”
Okay Mayor: I want to know who these “pit bull lobbyists” are. Are Canadian dogs paying for political representation?
I assume the mayor is referring to animal welfare advocates who are appalled, and also rightly concerned that such a law could mean the death of many innocent dogs, and simultaneously won’t do a thing to lessen potential dog attacks.
The abundance of scientific evidence presented by these so-called lobbyists, isn’t even hinted at in the mayor’s letter. It seems to me the mayor is the one being emotional here, offering a typical uninformed and knee-jerk response to a tragedy.
Very possibly it’s a tragedy that should never have happened, since the dog that killed Vadnais previously attacked others, according to reports. If true, I want to know how that was allowed, and why this dog wasn’t previously deemed dangerous.
Certainly dog owners in Montreal (and around the world) are expressing their views. On a Montreal radio show, Mayor Coderre said since the debate began, he has been compared to Adolf Hitler and the Gestapo, and portrayed as someone who will exterminate dogs en masse.”To the people making photos of me with piles of [dead] dogs, I can assure you if you have a pit bull, you can keep it. But if you’re not fit to own a dog, you’re going to lose it.”
Makes sense, but what he’s leaving out are the preponderance of restrictions place upon any dog deemed a pit bull (still unsure how you do that) should the bylaw pass. Those are restrictions that essentially assume the dog is dangerous just because of the way it looks.
Meanwhile, amidst all the uproar, the Montreal SPCA announced Wednesday that as of 2017, it will no longer provide dog-control services to the 12 Montreal boroughs and other on-island municipalities it serves if a city-wide ban on pit bulls is adopted.
You’d think a world class city like Montreal might have handled this issue with a bit more finesse and intelligence.