It was a dark day for dog owners in Montreal, Canada on Tuesday. A city-wide ban on pit bulls passed the city council, and will affect anyone who owns a pit-bull-type dog. The ban includes American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and any dog that vaguely resembles one of those breeds.
The new law means that people who own pit bull-type dogs need to undergo a criminal background check and pay $150 to the city for a special permit to own a pit bull. The law also mandates that the dogs must be microchipped, sterilized, and vaccinated. In public, pit bull type dogs must also be muzzled and on a 4-foot leash.
Dogs who are identified as pit bull-types and are in a shelter are to be euthanized within a matter of days of the law passing.
This bylaw comes after a Montreal woman was tragically killed by a dog this summer — a dog that was allegedly a pit bull. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was quick to talk publicly about the dangers of pit bulls.
Even though CBC news reported the DNA test for the dog that killed the woman revealed it was not a pit bull, Coderre pursued the ban.
The Mayor’s comments hit animal welfare groups hard, creating backlash. Many of the city councillors who voted against the breed-specific bylaw pointed out the lack of scientific evidence for the ban, including the ineffective nature of breed bans in other jurisdictions.
According to the CBC, veterinarians in Montreal have the right to refuse to euthanize pit bulls under the new law. However, veterinarians who refuse to euthanize pit bulls must refer clients to veterinarians who will.
The Montreal SPCA also announced that it would no longer provide dog services to the city of Montreal, stating, “We’re not going to participate in euthanizing of thousands of healthy dogs.”
Many people feel that low-income households and homeless individuals will simply be unable to afford the permit and other requirements to keep their pit bulls. This will result in people giving up their dogs to be euthanized, or pit bull type dogs will eventually be seized by officials.
To make matters worse, the passing of this law will greatly influence the province of Quebec’s decision to enact a province-wide bylaw, like the pit bull ban in neighboring province Ontario.
According to Global News, Montreal lawyers and dog owners are gearing up to sue the city, as they believe that the bylaw overlooks scientific evidence and is a violation of constitutional rights.
Many shelters did their best to evacuate homeless pit bulls from shelters, but there simply weren’t enough places for the dogs to go. The Montreal SPCA estimates over 700 homeless pit bulls will be euthanized because of the law.
The NYC Pit Bull Group has started a petition to ban Montreal, encouraging people to refuse to vacation or visit Montreal in response to the pit bull ban. In the meantime, local Montreal pit bull owners are starting to train their dogs to wear muzzles and prepare for criminal background checks.
Header image via Redemption Dogs