Monday, October 03, 2016

Breed ban in Montreal: What we know. How to help.

We are consolidating some of the information that's surfacing regarding Montreal's ban on pit bulls and ongoing efforts being made to help the dogs and their families. Concern about Montreal's situation is massive and it can be difficult to keep up with the shifting news. We welcome your updates and corrections as we tend to the links and information listed here.

4/18/17 UPDATE: Quebec Gov't Intends to Bring Dog Ban to Entire Province (Link)
From the Montreal SPCA: "The Montreal SPCA is highly concerned by Bill 128, introduced this morning by our provincial government, which includes breed specific legislation (BSL), namely by targeting “pit bull-type dogs”, “Rottweilers” and any dogs resulting from a mix of these breeds.. We are currently taking the time to study the bill, consult with our legal team, and assess how this will affect our organization and the animals and communities across the province. Once we have a clear idea of our next steps, we will be making a public statement. For more information on why BSL is not a solution to the issue of dangerous dogs, please visit"

12/1/16 UPDATE: Quebec Court of Appeal Reinstates Modified Bylaw (Link)
The lifting of the suspension order means many of the bylaw’s provisions targeting pit bull-type dogs will come into force, including the muzzling.
10/5/16 BIG NEWS UPDATE - Pit Bull Bylaw in Montreal temporarily SUSPENDED by Superior Court judge.  

"During the hearing, Gouin said several aspects of the bylaw presented by the city raised troubling questions, particularly because they appeared to categorize a vast segment of the dog population as dangerous when most of them are not. Gouin noted as well that the city’s definition of “pit bull-type dogs” seemed vague and overly broad, which would unfairly target many pets and their owners." News Link.  

This means that pit bull owners will not have to apply for a special permit or muzzle their dogs, and Montreal shelters can continue to adopt out pit bull dogs while the Montreal SPCA unfolds its full legal appeal to have sections of the bylaw retracted.

UPDATE 10/3/16: Montreal Superior Court says bylaw lacks clarity. Suspends decision about injunction until Wednesday, Oct 5.  News

The Ban's Requirements

Under the new bylaw, owners of pit-bull type dogs, pit-bull mixes or any dog with similar physical characteristics have until Dec. 31 to apply for a special permit with the city, or risk having their dog euthanized. The dogs must be sterilized, micro-chipped and vaccinated for rabies by March 1, 2017. (All dogs regardless of breed must be sterilized and microchipped by Dec. 31, 2019.)

Pit-bull type dogs will have to wear a muzzle while on the streets and in their yards if their fence does not reach a required height. Their owners will have to provide proof they don’t have a criminal record involving violence. Licenses for the dogs will cost $150 a year. Source: National Post.

What we know / Dated October 3, 2016

Montreal has stated that its ban on unowned and unregistered 'pit bulls' will begin on Monday October 3.  However no information has surfaced to help citizens know how it will play out. For example: How will 'pit bulls' be identified? Can citizens request an appeal of their dog has been identified as a pit bull incorrectly? How do pit bull owners prove that they have no criminal record? How will the city enforce the law? - All unknown. News link.

A leading concern is how Montreal city leaders hope to identify pit bulls. Contemporary research has shown that using visual analysis to identify breed type is inaccurate and misleading, so all dogs with blocky heads and short coats could become potential targets for fines, expulsion and death. 

Why was a ban enacted? A woman was killed by her neighbor's dog in her yard in June 2016. The dog had two prior bites on record. Police assumed it was a pit bull however its breed type has not been confirmed. A task force committee was assembled to review contemporary expertise on dog safety and public policy. Their recommendations to seek out alternative solutions to a ban were rejected by city Mayor Coderre.

Information on effective public safety measures from Safer Kinder Communities. 

How can I help?

IMPORTANT: The Montreal SPCA needs financial support to pursue a legal challenge against the ban. Please be generous so they can build a solid case that presents contemporary expertise, peer-reviewed studies, and world trends to the courts.  LINK

UPDATE: A second court challenge is being planned by a Montreal-based coalition of lawyers and experts in animal behavior. LINK

How can I help save a dog from Montreal?

There are no large scale plans to move seized or unowned dogs out of the Province and into the United States as of today. We'll all know more after an injunction filed by the Montreal SPCA today is reviewed by the courts. A judge may agree to block the city's ban long enough to review their lawsuit. This is obviously the best case scenario. A good source for news is the Montreal SPCA's facebook page.

Within Canada: Some at-risk dogs have been moved to Nova Scotia and to Saskatchewan-based rescue groups Prairie Sky Dog Rescue in Regina and Prairie Pooches Rescue in Cando. Link

IMPORTANT: News of the breed ban has created a wave of panic on social media, and many rescue and transport groups have responded by offering to assist. Some groups have launched fundraisers for costs they expect to incur. While the outpouring of help is truly inspiring, be aware that there is no vetting of the groups that have offered to accept dogs, which opens the door to false claims and potential for harm. To ensure the safety of Montreal's dogs as well as the best use of your donation dollars, please be extremely selective with your support.

BADRAP is not currently planning to take displaced Montreal dogs because the number of local helpers is quite large and shipping dogs across the continent does not appear to be a necessary or practical response at this time

A First Goal: Keeping them Home

Prairie Pit bull Rescue in Lethbridge, Alberta announced that they will be working with Montreal-based activists to assist targeted dog owners with resources (spays and neuters, muzzles and financial support) so financially challenged families can keep their dogs. Efforts to keep dogs home - even during less than ideal circumstances - are always preferred over shipping beloved pets off to other places. (Note: Prairie Pit Bull Rescue is one of BADRAP's trusted rescue/transfer partners) PPBR also plans to assist in rescue/transfer efforts of Montreal dogs who do not have homes. New York Bully Crew made same announcement on their facebook page yesterday.