The city of Montreal and, in fact, all of Canada is up in arms over the recent debate surrounding the new animal control bylaw which criminalizes “Pitbull-type” dogs, specifically American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers, and places a number of restrictions on the ownership of the breed within city limits, such as restricting the breeds’ adoption and forcing the dogs to be muzzled whenever they are outside the home. Those who currently own a dog that’s fits the description outlined in the bylaw will have a year to register their dog under a special category and must undergo a criminal record check if they wish to keep their canine companion. Most recently, a temporary ban has been placed on the bylaw, which was supposed to go into effect on Monday, October 3rd, 2016, after the SPCA declared that the clauses that discuss “Pitbull-type” dogs should be considered null and illegal. They argue that the identification of a dog as being “Pitbull-type” is problematic at best, as this definition lacks specificity and could result in dogs being discriminated against based solely on their appearance regardless of their behaviors.
Justice Louis Gouin agreed with the SPCA stating that the bylaws definitions were “vague” and “imprecise”, raising numerous red flags and meriting further review before being passed. He further stated that “the city may have overstepped the limits of its jurisdiction” in the passing of this bylaw. The Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, has argued in favor of this new bylaw despite heavy amounts of criticism, claiming it as a balanced approach towards canine-related attacks and stating that “a city has the right to decide on its territory how to best protect its citizens”.
Many animal rights groups across Canada have spoken up against the bylaw, which is suspended until a ruling has been passed on the SPCA’s challenge, arguing that it is not the fault of the dog breed but of the owners who mistreat and poorly train their canines. The website www.change.org, features a petition written up by the Citizens for a Better Montreal, who plan to contact Mayor Denis Coderre once they have collected enough signatures, that is actively against the ban on “Pitbull-type” breeds. The petition has gained traction, having acquired over 400 thousand signatures in less than two weeks, and is part of a larger movement of 10 different petitions by change.org against the Pitbull ban.
While everyone waits with baited breath for the final decision, the local SPCA and animal rescue organizations have contacted shelters throughout the country, taking initiative to transport the Pitbull breeds in their care out of the city to avoid euthanization. Many of the dogs are being transported to cities like Halifax along the Trans-Canada Highway to take residence in animal shelters and foster homes until a permanent home can be found.