Proposed legislation in Montreal that puts thousands of pit bull lives at risk was passed.
Pit bull owners and advocates have the outcome of Monday's voting on a proposed piece of legislation that can only be described as extreme breed discrimination.
The ordinance will stop all pit bull adoptions and place serious restrictions on those in the city that already own pit bulls as pets. As of yesterday afternoon, the law was passed.
Bylaw adopted. 37 for, 23 against #pitbulls
— Jaela Bernstien (@jbernstien) September 27, 2016
The ordinance details a plan where all dogs will be microchipped and spayed or neutered by 2019. It goes on to say that owners of dogs considered to be pit bulls will be required to undergo a criminal background check.
It will also be mandatory for pit bull owners to muzzle their dogs in public and keep them on a leash less than four feet long. A $150 permit fee will also be demanded.
According to the city, a "pit bull" is defined as an American Pit Bull Terrier, a Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or a mixed dog including any of those breeds. The definition includes dogs that "share physical characteristics with those breeds and crosses." Those that oppose the law have expressed concerns that this vague statement could cover virtually any big dog with short hair and a large head.
Cases of mistaken breed identity are already being seen across the globe. The law enforcement officials taxed with the responsibility of identifying suspected pit bulls have, what is according to a police spokesperson featured on Radio Canada, "no expertise whatsoever" when it comes to correctly identifying dog breeds.
Amidst these concerns, the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Montreal SPCA) spoke out about the extreme repercussions the bill will have on thousands of friendly, adoptable dogs.
Alanna Devine, the organization's advocacy director, told The Dodo,
"There are a lot of low-income and homeless people in Montreal who simply won't be able to afford all of the criteria they need in order to get the special permit. Those dogs will have to be seized and have to be euthanized."
The homeless dogs currently waiting to be adopted from local animal shelters will share the same fate. Because all pit bull adoptions will be banned, there will be nowhere for the homeless animals to go.
Devine told CBC,
"Those animals can't be adopted out, which means adoptable, behaviorally sound dogs and puppies would have to be put to death."
The Montreal SPCA takes in an average of 700 pit-bull-type dogs every year. If the bill passes, they will be required by law to euthanize every animal suspected of being a pit bull that comes through their door.
Montreal SPCA executive director, Benoit Tremblay, told The Star that it is against the organization's values to "euthanize thousands of healthy dogs." They have announced that if the bill is passed, they will no longer provide dog-control services to the city.
The law's proposal seems to be stemmed from a fatal incident that occurred only days before the legislation was announced. A 55-year-old Montreal woman was attacked and killed by a loose dog while she was in her backyard. Law enforcement initially branded the dog as a "pit bull," but it has since been determined that the animal was registered as a Boxer.
The media, however, publicized the incident as a "pit bull attack" which fueled the community's fear and society's stereotyping.
Mayor Denis Coderre supports the proposal by repeatedly stating it's in the interest of public safety. But while Montreal determines whether it will give in to stereotypes and skewed facts about the pit bull breed, animal cruelty advocates from across the world refuse to stay silent.
Animal advocates have participated in heated debates and protests in an attempt to stop the proposal. They argue that education, strict penalties for irresponsible owners, and breed-wide regulations are more effective ways to handle the situation.
After the bill was passed, the mayor of Montreal said:
"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."