Montreal’s New Mayor Overturns Controversial BSL Ban of Pit Bulls

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
After much back and forth over banning Pit Bulls, Montreal has finally come to a decision – and has overturned the controversial decision to ban the popular mixed breed dog.

Miami, Denver, Montreal, Winnipeg, Nashville. One of these cities is not like the other… and it’s Montreal. Why? Because all of the other cities have put in place Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) that bans pit-bulls and dogs resembling pit-bulls from living among their residents. For those who have never heard this term, BSL is a ban or restriction related to owning a certain breed – often a Pit-Bull, Rottweiler, Doberman or other dog breed considered to have aggressive tendencies.

So why is Montreal different than the others?

Well, it started with new leadership in the form of a Mayor (Valerie Plante) who recognized this ban as a key election issue and campaigned in the Fall of 2017 with a promise of reforming the previous administration’s anti-pit bull laws. Since being elected, she has over-hauled that broad-brushed approach to banning specific breeds by introducing new animal control by-laws. Better still, she is placing greater responsibility on the dog owner to ensure their pet is properly trained and appropriately handled when interacting with others.

Related: Top 10 Unfairly Banned Dog Breeds

But to be honest, the “it’s not the dog, its the owner” thought-process is something that those fighting BSL have been chanting for years. What makes Montreal so unique? Well according to Councillor Sterling Downey, it’s all about educating the dog owners and helping them to understand and respect their responsibilities.

So, in true vive la différence fashion, the city plans to hire new animal inspectors and experts in canine behavior who will be visiting dog parks and other areas where are furry friends and their humans are known to gather, offering free training and safety tips.

As per Downey, they don’t want to use threats and scare mongering to win dog owners over, “The idea is to accompany them, and provide resources … to help them become aware of the responsibilities of owning an animal.”

Related: I Said “Sit”: Help Your Dog Respond to Cues Outdoors

And while the previous by-law not only banned the adoption of pit bulls in Montreal, required muzzling when in public and forced existing owners to fork over $150 for a “special” permit, these new rules mean that pit bulls are simply subject to all the same controls you would impose on any other dog including registration and leashing in public.

Montreal officials are quick to point out that any dog breed can bite or attack under certain circumstances and as such, they’ve also changed their approach to dealing with this type of incident in a way that can recognize an anomaly in a dog’s behavior but that doesn’t compromise public safety.

That includes requiring the owner to notify animal inspectors within 72 hours of an incident in order to have their dog evaluated (at their expense) to determine his risk level – which can range from normal to potentially dangerous and ultimately, dangerous.

If a dog is deemed potentially dangerous, he must be vaccinated, micro-chipped, spayed or neutered, kept at least two meters from children under 16 (unless they are the children of the owner) and must be owned by someone over 18 who does not have any criminal charges against them related to violence or animal cruelty (which eliminates anyone charged with crimes related to dog fighting is banned from owning the dog). But the dog’s “potentially dangerous” label can be reclassified to “normal” if in 5 years time, he is given (and passes) a new evaluation.

For dogs that have attacked and caused the death of a human, or been deemed dangerous and a threat to public safety, euthanasia is required. And I’m hopeful the owner’s name will make it onto a list that can track and monitor those common denominators (owners) that are responsible for this type of sad outcome

Photo credit: Mary Swift/Shutterstock

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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