A temporary suspension of the Montreal pit bull ban gives thousands of dogs a hint of hope.
Last week, Montreal voted to pass controversial breed-specific legislation. The bylaw makes it illegal to adopt a pit bull or pit bull-like dog within city limits and puts extreme restrictions on those residents that already own pit bulls as pets. The ban also threatens the lives of thousands of pit bulls currently housed in animal shelters.
The law was set to be put into effect on Monday, but pit bull advocates breathe a temporary sigh of relief thanks to Quebec Superior Court Justice Louis Gouin. Gouin has since ordered an immediate suspension of the ban after hearing arguments from both the Montreal SPCA and the city of Montreal.
Those opposed to breed discrimination argue the bylaw includes only a vague definition of a "pit bull-type dog." According to the ordinance, a pit bull is defined as a American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or any mix of these breeds.
Justice Gouin voiced his concerns over the loose definition by saying,
"Are we talking about first generation crosses? Do we go back to the grandparents?"
His questions reflect the same concerns the SPCA has been relating for weeks. In response, Rene Cadieux, the city's legal representative, referenced the fact that Ontario's courts have already determined that scientific evidence is not needed for breed specific legislation. He says "logic and common sense" are enough.
In other words,
"If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it's got to be a duck."
The Montreal SPCA has obvious qualms over this and points out several cases of mistaken breed identification. Not only does the breed specific legislation threaten the lives of behaviorally sound, innocent pit bulls, it also puts any large dog with short hair and a big head at risk.
Justice Gouin plans to continue discussing the details surrounding the ban, and will make a decision based on a longer suspension on Wednesday. He states that the current suspension is "an invitation to rethink the terminology."
While the fight to save thousands of pit bulls is being held in the courtroom, pit bull advocates have been working together to rescue the at-risk shelter dogs. Animal rescues within Montreal city limits are sending their pit bulls away to safety. Individuals have also been flocking to Montreal to adopt pit bulls ahead of the ban.
The world holds it breath as deliberation over the ban continues, but everyone can help save these innocent dogs. Support the Montreal SPCA's legal fight by making a donation here, or join over 300,000 who have signed this petition.