Montreal pit bull ban unjust and cruel

Sarah Miller, Contributing writer

On Sept. 27, Montreal’s city managers signed a death warrant for thousands of dogs in response to the mauling and death of 55-year-old Christiane Vadnais in June.  Officers shot and killed the animal, which they described as a pit bull.

Thankfully, this “pit bull ban,” which would have sentenced a substantial number of dogs to death, has been suspended for an indeterminate amount of time.

Judge Louis Gouin of the Quebec Superior Court ordered a suspension of the bylaw that would prohibit people from adopting “pit bull-type dogs,” and also would have required owners to pay high fees, go through a criminal-background check, keep a muzzle on the dog outside, obtain a special $150 permit and require the dogs to be spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated.

One aspect of Gouin’s decision was that the term “pit bull-type dog” is too vague. However, other provisions of the new animal control regulation remain in effect.

The proposed ban would punish good dog owners as well as dogs that have never shown signs of aggressive behavior. More significantly, who knows how many dogs would be wrongfully and undeservedly murdered in shelters.

Since the ban—as originally written—would mean that all pit bulls and pit mixes in Montreal shelters would have to be euthanized, the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has strongly advocated against it.

Other opponents denounce the proposed ban saying that it unfairly paints all pit bulls and dogs similar in appearance as malicious.

The Montreal ban is extreme.  Though I like the idea of protecting the community, it is entirely unreasonable to kill all pit bulls in shelters, expect owners to pay for meaningless permits, and muzzle their dogs even if they are in a fenced yard.

“We call it panic policy-making,” said Sterling Downey, an opposition councilman, and I agree.

To the relief of many, the suspension means pit bulls can still be adopted and muzzling is not mandatory as the law required. The law will remain unenforced and pit bulls will still be cared for in shelters until there is a final court ruling on the SPCA’s legal challenge of the bylaw.

For now, we can be glad to know that the “pit bull ban” has been put on pause.