Yesterday, the Montreal City Council passed a bylaw that mandated death sentences for thousands of innocent, healthy dogs. But the Montreal SPCA isn’t taking it sitting down – it’s fighting back!
After a controversial and heartbreaking decision was made to ban the ownership of Pit Bull and Pit Bull type dogs in Montreal Tuesday, owners and rescue organizations were left scrambling to figure out how to save so many innocent dogs.
The Montreal SPCA decided simply to take the city to court, citing that the ban was not only discriminatory against owners, but lacked any reasoning or evidentiary basis that pit bulls were inherently dangerous.
The city’s new bylaw is set to take effect on Monday, October 3. But the SPCA today is filing a case with the Superior court, claiming that several sections of the bylaw are not only bad for the dogs and owners, but are illegal and out of the legislative scope of the city. Backed by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who reactively made statements about the danger of pit bulls after a woman was killed in a dog bite incident earlier this year (even though the dog in the incident was not confirmed as a pit bull, but was registered as a boxer), the bill, according to the SPCA:
- Discriminates against owners and guardians of pit bulls/pit bull-type dogs by requiring unnecessary and punitive obligations on the owners’ parts, even though the SPCA claims there is no proof of inherent danger from any dog simply based on breed identification.
- Is too vague and imprecise in terminology and criteria for what constitutes a pit bull or a ‘pit bull-type dog, and sets an impossible task of accurately knowing what dogs fall into that category.
- Does not give any opportunity to appeal the designation of any dog the city arbitrarily decides is a pit bull or pit bull-type, setting the state for numerous inappropriate and inaccurate classifications.
- It contradicts Civil Code of Quebec Article 898.1, which specifically gives the status of sentient beings to animals, and it also violates rights granted to the dogs by sections of the Animal Welfare and Safety Act.
- Is irrational in that the bylaw assumes all pit bull-type dogs are dangerous to society, despite evidence in any capacity that would back that claim up.
Animal welfare and advocacy groups also are quick to point out that many other municipalities have passed similar legislation, only to repeal when investigated more, or when it was realized that the legislation was not only unfair, but changed nothing.
And while the City of Montreal and the Mayor claim they have a right to not only pass regulations with regard to breed restriction in order to maintain the safety of all Montrealers, opposition groups are calling that hypocrisy as they are not respecting the rights of Montreal animals who have done no wrong.
The SPCA considers this an urgent issue, as the bylaw’s planned effective date is only a few days away, and that can mean the difference between life and death for so many animals. They are petitioning the Superior Court to suspend the enforcement of the bylaw while the court’s review and decipher the legality of the bylaw, and are claiming that every minute counts toward an animal’s life.
Other groups appalled by the bylaw include the Quebec Order of Veterinarians, which has issued a statement to all its members reminding them there is no legal mandate for them to euthanize any dog simply because the city said so. In fact, veterinarians within the order are being given information on how exactly to deny fulfilling euthanasia orders, and are being encouraged to do so. While the city may mandate death, they are not within legal scope to mandate who performs the heartless and unnecessary procedures and the hope is that this response from the Order will help reinforce that many think this is not the right path for Montreal to take in the name of human safety.
The breed restriction currently is for pit bulls and/or pit bull-type dogs, but animal welfare advocates call this a very slippery slope…as it is, officials are not trained in breed recognition. There’s nothing out there that would stop anyone from designating any dog with short fur and a squarish head a pit bull, and this could have devastating trickle-down effects.
Which means that supporting advocacy groups fighting this new bylaw is more important than ever right now. A Montreal group started a petition on change.org that they plan to deliver to city council and the petition already has garnered a large support base. More signatures can be used, though, to send a loud and clear message to Mayor Coderre–this unfair legislation will not be accepted nor tolerated, and needs to be repealed.
Lives are depending on us.
Lori Ennis is a wife, mama and friend to all animals. A self-confessed “Hot Mess,” she lives wherever the Marine Corps takes her husband. Currently, that’s Maryland with her very spoiled Labrador Retriever-mix rescue pups and a ton of saltwater fish just tanking around. Lori’s family has fostered dogs for years, mostly Golden Retrievers, and knows no home is complete without an animal buddy (or seven)!