Thousands of dogs and their owners were out in full force to protest proposed legislation in Montreal, Canada, that would see Pit Bulls banned from the city.
“I think they should come out of their house and come see our dogs and see how they are,” said pit bull owner, Lynn Groulx. “Maybe, that might help change their ideas and how they see things.”
She is referring to the breed-specific-legislation that the Canadian city proposes to implement on September 26, 2016.
The city-wide ban states that Montrealers will no longer be allowed to buy or adopt pit bull type dogs, which includes Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, any mix with these breeds and any dog that presents characteristics of one of those breeds.
Those dog owners who already have Pit Bulls will be forced to comply with strict regulations and apply for a special permit that would cost $150. Owners would also get a criminal background check, the dog would need to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. They would also need to keep the dogs muzzled and on a 4-foot leash in public.
The new rules is being condemned by most animal welfare experts who point out that breed bans don’t work when it comes to reducing dog attacks.
The Montreal SPCA hopes the city will revise the rules, as they are concerned that the new rules will be a death sentence to perfectly healthy and well-adjusted dogs who arrive at their shelter.
"Adoptable, healthy and behaviourally sound puppies and dogs that come through the SPCA will be condemned to death," said Alanna Devine, the SPCA's director of animal advocacy. The shelter takes in thousands of dogs each year and of those dogs an estimated third would be deemed "pit bull types".
Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater also argues that the breed-specific legislation is flat out discrimination. “I don’t understand now what political coinage Mayor Coderre finds in trying to turn half the dog population into criminals,” she said.
Opposition councillor Sterling Downey also agrees pointing out BSL has proven ineffective and expensive in other cities.
The ban and the changes to the city’s animal control bylaws come in the wake of a fatal dog attack on a 55-year-old woman in June in her back yard.
"A woman died on our territory, and we can't forget about that. We all love animals, but it's up to us as humans, as owners, to better control them in order to ensure other humans' safety isn't jeopardized," said Anie Samson, vice-chair of the city's executive committee and responsible for citizen services.
Ironically, the dog that caused the woman’s death may not have been a Pit Bull at all. Documents issued by the city and obtained by Humane Society International suggest the dog may have been a boxer, CBC reported.
Meanwhile, protestors are continuing to gather outside of city hall and vow to do so every day in an effort to stop the controversial bill from passing next week.
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