After a brief respite, Montreal's controversial pit bull ban is going into effect.
When the proposed Montreal pit bull ban was suspended on Oct. 5, the Montreal SPCA and pit bull advocates everywhere celebrated the temporary victory. But now over a month later, the Quebec Court of Appeal has revoked the suspension ruling in the city's favor.
The Montreal SPCA released a statement by Alanna Devine, the Director of Animal Advocacy, saying,
"Though the fight is not over, we are extremely disappointed by today's decision and particularly preoccupied by not being able to continue finding adoptive homes in Montreal for all of our healthy and behaviorally-sound dogs,"
The reinstatement of the controversial regulation means all pit bulls and "pit bull-like" dogs are required to be muzzled, kept on short leashes, and owners must pay $150 to obtain a special permit in order to keep their dogs. Previously owned pit bulls are allowed to stay with their owners as long as the permit is acquired by Dec. 31, but no new pit bulls are permitted to enter city bounds. This includes strays and pets being surrendered to animal shelters.
Mayor Denis Coderre is in favor of the breed-specific legislation stating its sole purpose is to protect public safety. He said on Thursday,
"We're happy with the decision, it's an important victory that proves the soundness of the regulation."
For the past several months, Montreal SPCA has been waging a legal battle against the city in an attempt to have the regulations permanently retracted. They point out several discrepancies including the fact the vague definition provided for a pit bull-like dog could include nearly every large breed dog with short hair and a big head. They also claim it violates the Chart of Rights and Freedoms along with Quebec's animal welfare act.
The SPCA legal team presented evidence showing how the permit requirements and breed restrictions would lead to "the abandonment and euthanization of many dogs with no possibility of being placed."
Alanna Devine told the Montreal Gazette,
"Not being able to find homes for healthy, adoptable and behaviorally-sound dogs and puppies goes against the very essence of what our organization stands for."
The city has rejected the claims stating the bylaw will put public interest above the plight of potentially harmless pit bulls that will be inadvertently affected. Coderre states,
"We will not compromise when it comes to the safety of our fellow Montrealers."
Pit bull defenders throughout the city continue to advocate for the heavily stereotyped breed. They are presenting cases showcasing how no dog breed has a genetic predisposition to aggression. Advocates argue the dog's behavior more often stems from its background and treatment.
Montreal resident Quinton Hellstrom talked to the Montreal Gazette about the incident that is thought to have originally sparked the ban. In June, a woman was attacked and killed in her backyard by an aggressive dog that was originally thought to be a pit bull (it was later determined the dog was more likely a Boxer).
"After one incident you can't just blame the whole breed for that."
While the court has ruled that the city may not order the euthanization of any pit bull-like dog until the Superior Court issues a final judgement on the legality of the law, the lifting of the suspension puts thousands of dogs at risk.
Humane Society International/Canada issued a statement expressing their disappointment and explaining how the bylaw "makes it impossible to identify any pit bull-type dog." Ewa Demianowicz, campaign manager for the organization, said,
"Our elected officials are using fear-mongering and hysteria to target harmless animals. If you look at the science, breed-specific legislation does nothing to make communities safer, and causes immense hardship to animals and people."
The Montreal SPCA plans to continue their fight within the courtroom to protect the innocent animals in Montreal. Final judgement is expected within the next several months.
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