(PIT BULLS/BREED DISCRIMINATION) QUEBEC — In the wake of a series of high-profile pit bull attacks, Quebec City recently announced a plan to ban pit bulls throughout the city.

Mayor Régis Labeaume released a video statement on June 16 explaining why he wants to ban pit bulls in Quebec City beginning January 1, 2017, leaving pit bull parents with just over six months to respect the regulations and get rid of their dogs–a much stricter approach than other regions have announced.

“Even if a pit bull has never bitten, even if he appears to be friendly, the owner has six months to get rid of it,” Labeaume said.

Labeaume said the decision comes with the safety of the public as his main consideration, because the dogs are “particularly aggressive and unpredictable dogs, known for inflicting serious injuries.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The list of banned dog breeds includes bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and any mix of these breeds.

Any individual caught with a banned dog would be subject to fines ranging from $150 to $1,000 for the first offense, and $300 to $2,000 for the second offense.

However, many dog lovers are decrying the ban, saying it leaves them with no choice but to euthanize or abandon their dogs if they want to continue living in Quebec City. In fact, the proposed ban has sparked so much anger that police are concerned about the mayor’s safety.

Pit bull advocates responded to Labeaume’s video statement on Facebook with strong contempt. Some comments have gone so far as to make threats against the mayor, while others simply expressed concern over the possibility of losing their dogs.

Long-term resident and pit bull parent Dave Dupont said, “Pit bulls are not mean dogs…it is their owners who make all the difference.”

“I love Quebec City but I won’t have any other choice but to move,” he continued.

On Monday morning, 50 dog lovers gathered outside of the City Hall of Quebec City demanding a compromise on the ban. Residents vocalized that they are willing to use leashes and muzzles on their dogs in order to avoid an overall ban on the breed.

“When there are no more pit bulls and there are still people being bitten, what are you gonna do?” pit bull parent Lucie Carrière said.

“Are you gonna ban all the breeds? Because there are other breeds that will hurt people, it’s inevitable.”

Simon Lajoie brought his son, daughter, and their 10-week-old pit bull to protest Quebec City's proposed ban on pit bulls. Photo Credit: CBC viaTwitter
Simon Lajoie brought his son, daughter, and their 10-week-old pit bull to protest Quebec City’s proposed ban on pit bulls early Monday. Photo Credit: CBC viaTwitter

In response to protesters, Labeaume said he never planned to adopt the bylaw and that he only wanted to start a debate on the issue.

“We won’t eliminate pit bulls,” Labeaume said. “We wanted to hit hard so things would move.”

Labeaume said he will wait for the Quebec government to decide on new regulations in the meantime, however it’s likely the province will implement a similar ban on pit bulls by next year.

Premier Philippe Couillard claims he does not want to implement a pit bull ban only to intervene a few months later and ban another “equally dangerous dog breed.” So throughout the next year, the province will study the issue in-depth and consult with municipalities who may also legislate on the matter to best determine which other dog breed(s) should be banned.

“I want us to look at all the elements. For example, if we do this for one breed, in three months will there be a case with another breed potentially equally aggressive?” Couillard said. “What are the methods that have been used? What are the results they obtained?”

“Dangerous dog breeds” in consideration of the ban include pit bulls, Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, and Chow Chows.

“We will be looking very, very attentively at what Ontario did,” Couillard continued. “There’s a provincial norm in Ontario, I think we’re ripe to have a provincial norm in Quebec, that could theoretically include possibly banning the species.”

Ontario banned pit bulls over a decade ago in an attempt to slowly eradicate the breed from the region, and in turn, prevent dog bites and attacks. The legislation allows those who already have pit bulls to keep them, but it outlaws breeding and bringing the dogs into the province. Illegal dogs would need to be sent out of the province or euthanized.

However, since the ban went into effect in 2005, the overall number of dogs bites in Ontario’s capital of Toronto have actually increased.

“It has nothing to do with the breed. It has everything to do with responsible pet ownership.” Pit bull advocate Sharon Hewitt says the ban unfairly targets pit bulls and wants to see the law repealed.

“Any dogs can bite and many dogs can and will bite. So that’s when it’s dangerous – when the public in general feels that they’re safe because of this ban, when they are absolutely not.”

We hope these provinces will come to their senses and realize that breed specific legislation does not work. Pit bull bans do nothing to address the real problem behind dog bites, which is more often tied to irresponsible pet ownership and animal abuse.

Why not try laws that actually make people safe, rather than simply make people feel safe–laws that address human behavior, rather than breed bans?

TAKE ACTION:

  • On July 16, join the worldwide protest against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). The protect takes place in Montreal at 11:00 AM, beginning at Pelican Park and ending at Lafontaine Park. This is a peaceful protest, and pet parents are encouraged to bring their pups, granted they are leashed and social. For more information and to RSVP, visit the Facebook event page.
  • Join the Breed Specific Legislation Awareness Facebook page.
  • Sign the petition: Prevent a pit bull ban in Montreal.
  • Sign the petition: Say ‘no’ to a pit bull ban in the province of Quebec.

— Alisa Manzelli, exclusive to Global Animal

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