Montreal bans new pit bulls; plans to phase out animal on territory

A pit bull named Athena goes for a walk at the SPCA, Tuesday, June 14, 2016 in Montreal. Pit bulls purchased after September will be banned from Montreal's territory, the city announced Wednesday in response to several recent attacks throughout the province.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL - Pit bulls purchased after September will be banned from Montreal's territory, the city announced Wednesday in response to several recent attacks throughout the province.

Current owners will have to register and tag their pet by Jan. 1, 2017, or lose the right to take care of the animal.

The new bylaw is expected to be adopted at the Sept. 26 council meeting.

"If owners are not able to prove they bought the dog before Sept. 26, then it will not be allowed on our territory," said Anie Samson, vice-president of the city's executive council.

Montreal's goal is to wait for pit bulls purchased or adopted before September to die, eventually phasing them out completely.

Moreover, citizens under 18 or who have a criminal record going back five years that involves violence will not be allowed to own a pit bull.

Those who meet the city's criteria for ownership face a series of new, strict rules.

All pit bulls must be muzzled when in public and on a leash no longer than 1.25 metres, unless they are in a dog park. Pit bulls can only be outside and unleashed when surrounded by a fence at least two metres high.

Montreal says it reserves the right to order any dog, regardless of breed, euthanized if it bites or kills a human or another animal.

The executive council also decided to centralize animal-control authority and force all boroughs to follow the same, new rules.

The new regulations are sure to raise the ire of pit bull advocates, who maintain there is nothing inherently risky in the breed.

Rather, they say some pit bulls are dangerous because they are mistreated or taught to be violent by irresponsible owners.

The Montreal SPCA said shelters and pounds will continue to receive abandoned and stray pit bulls and, because they cannot be adopted any longer, "healthy dogs and puppies would necessarily be sentenced to death."

"We ask that city officials meet with us in order to find a solution to prevent the unnecessary deaths of countless healthy, adoptable dogs and puppies entering into our shelter," said Gabrielle Carriere, head veterinarian at the organization.

Montreal's new rules run counter to an early August report by a provincially appointed advisory panel, which did not recommend banning pit bulls.

Instead of targeting certain breeds, the panel suggested a law that would set conditions to owning dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs.

The panel's report referred to Ontario, which has had a pit bull ban since 2005 but doesn't know whether the number of dog bites has been reduced because that data isn't collected at the provincial level.

Several other Quebec cities, including Quebec City, have announced or discussed bans this summer after a string of attacks that included the death of Christine Vadnais, 55, who was killed in her own backyard.

Some other Canadian cities, including Winnipeg, have banned the breed.

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