Pittie Parents Outraged Over Demand Letters From City of Montreal
The continuing battle of pitbull owners and the City of Montreal now takes a new angle as the city is threatening people with the seizure of their dogs and hefty fines.
Time and time again, we see it. Breed restrictive legislations that are primarily (and unfairly) aimed at Pitbulls. The City of Montreal has been embroiled in such saga, as a new law banning the breed without a special waiver went into effect in December.
But that’s the current problem–the special waiver. Owners who have overwhelmingly submitted all documentation needed (as well as that lovely $150 filing fee, cough, cough) for their pets and even received the licenses are now confused and angry as they are receiving letters telling them their dogs may be taken from them within the next four weeks.
The letters are basic form letters that hundreds of pittie parents are receiving, and they claim the application for the special permit is incomplete. But owners like Thomas Pavia say that they don’t understand how this can be, as he and many others have already received the licenses they applied for.
The letter details that pit owners have four weeks to either give their dog to a shelter or find someone in another municipality that allows pits, and to swear that the dog is not in their possession anymore. Consequences are promised by the letter, in the form of seizure of the dogs as well as other legal action.
Sophie Gaillard is a lawyer with the Montreal SPCA animal advocacy department and said that they’ve been fielding a lot of calls since this letter’s gone out. She’s concerned that shelters and rescues simply can’t handle the dogs that would come in, and says that the City gave no notice before the letters were sent out.
The City is not admitting any error, as spokesperson Gonzalo Nunez said that the letters were sent out after each special permit file had been analyzed with rigor. More, he says that owners were contacted to let them know specific information about what was missing. Thomas Pavia doesn’t buy it. He followed the directive of the bylaw last fall to acquire a special permit for his 10-year-old boy, Ezec. He followed the rules, played honest, paid his money and was actually given a refund because the city wasn’t sure what was to come of the bylaw. When it took effect for real, he redid his application, and again, paid the fee.
He clearly did everything right, as he got the tag for Ezec and didn’t think anything of it. Until he got the letter, last week, basically telling him he had to rehome his arthritic dog in fewer than four weeks. Pavia is frustrated; he went through proper channels and did what was expected and still, the city doesn’t seem to be interested in making clarifications about this letter happen. He says he’ll keep Ezec, as he has paid his money and has the license, and he’ll go to court if he must to keep his family member safe.
Martin Coiteux is the Public Security Minister who proposed the bill and called it the beginning of an approach to reduce the number of dangerous dogs, with particular focus in banning pit bulls across the province. Yet, all over, municipalities are seeing the error in that, as it’s difficult to enforce, and unfairly targets breeds, not behavior. The municipality of Châteauguay overturned a 30-year ban on pit bulls because Mayor Nathalie Simon said it just wasn’t working. They aren’t alone. Edmonton overturned their ban in 2012 and others are looking at legislation efficacy. Coiteux says that individual cities should have their own rules and regulations, with his bill as a base for required rules and regulations.
And so, we continue to watch as the fate of law-abiding citizens and their family members hang in limbo for the next few weeks.