On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, Montreal passed legislation to ban all pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs from their city. Legislators voted 37 to 23 in favor of breed-specific legislation. This has outlawed all dogs that resemble pit bulls unless their owners meet strict terms and conditions. The owners of these dogs must undergo a criminal background check, purchase a $150 special permit, and the dogs must be altered, microchipped, vaccinated and only allowed outside with a muzzle and a 4-foot leash. For lucky owners and their dogs, this is doable but a completely unacceptable way of life. For others, such as low-income families, these obstacles are simply too difficult to overcome.
The law was proposed and passed after a series of unfortunate events in Montreal. Last June, a woman in the city was mauled to death in her yard by a loose dog. This was not the only incident of a dog attack in recent months and it lead Mayor Denis Coderre and the Montreal city council to consider banning the breed. Unfortunately, there were too many people that wanted to see the dogs go.
What does this mean for the pit bulls of Montreal? Just what we expected – a death sentence. While the dogs already in homes might be safe, albeit to live a cruel life stuck inside or treated like a vicious tiger, others are not so lucky. For owners that can’t afford the strict conditions, the dogs will be confiscated and euthanized. All of the dogs in Montreal shelters have been immediately deemed unadoptable and face euthanasia as well.
Rescues across the country were pulling any pit bull-type dogs out of shelters prior to the legislation being passed. They knew what was coming and wanted to save the innocent lives of these dogs. They have done nothing wrong. But there are still thousands of dogs left that have no other way out. They are sitting in shelters waiting for forever homes that they will never get the chance to see because they must be murdered.
The backlash has been incredible. The Montreal SPCA, which covers 12 boroughs, has stated it will cancel its contract with the city under its ban. Individual veterinarians and the Quebec Order of Veterinarians have voiced their desire to refuse to euthanize any of these innocent dogs. “I, professionally, morally, ethically am not required to euthanize those animals,” Karen Joy Goldenberg, a veterinarian at a local animal hospital, told CBC News. “Now, if I actually witness or believe that a dog is dangerous to public safety, it has actually bitten someone, regardless of its breed, then absolutely I would agree to put it to sleep for its welfare and the welfare of the people around it.” But the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of these dogs have never shown aggression towards anyone.
What’s more is the evidence that breed specific legislation simply doesn’t work. There are many well-documented cases where BSL has been enacted and dog bite occurrences have risen. No one breed is responsible for the actions of individual dogs. The dogs involved in fatal and serious dog attacks are dogs that were not trained, lacked a suitable temperament, or simply out of control. In fact, many of the dogs responsible for fatal attacks were not pit bulls at all.
So what can we do to overturn this mess? Can these dogs be saved? We can only try and not give up. You can voice your opinion by signing the petition here. You can write to city officials to tell them what you think of the ban. Perhaps even better and more urgent, you can help the Montreal SPCA find homes for these death row shelter dogs by adopting here.
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