By Karrie Etzler
A recent bylaw seeking to ban pit bull type dogs in Montréal, Canada, has been temporarily suspended, after lawyers representing the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) successfully filed a court order opposing the ban.
The ban, which was due to take effect at midnight on Monday, Oct. 3, was halted that same day by Quebec Superior Court Justice Louis Gouin. Under the proposed conditions of this bylaw, the city was seeking to ban all new pit bull and pit bull-type dogs. Additionally, the bylaw also required pit bulls to be muzzled when outdoors, and kept on a short leash.
Failure to abide by this bylaw could result in the euthanizing of the offending dog.
In voting for the bylaw, city officials pointed to a fatal dog attack on a Montréal woman in June as the major reason for coming to this resolution. But this argument did very little to soothe the ire of countless residents throughout the city, who viewed the bylaw as cruel and inhumane.
In showing support to their Canadian counterparts, dog lovers and other special interests throughout Vermont also expressed strong disapproval for this bylaw.
“I think it’s pretty sad at times when a whole breed of an animal gets banned,” Whit Montgomery, Killington chief of police, told The Mountain Times. “Many times the responsibility lies with the owner of the animal. I feel there are at least as many well-behaved pit bulls, as there are misbehaved. It would make sense to deal with the trouble dogs and owners on an individual basis, than outright banning an entire breed. Other breeds have outbursts as well.”
Still, there are claims that the openly aggressive nature of pit bulls cannot and should not be overlooked.
Another incident this past June involved an off-duty police officer who shot and killed a pit bull at the Watson Upper Valley Dog Park in Hartford Village after the pit bull, which was off-leash, started attacking his pet husky in the park.
Pit bull owner Sarah Winter of Fair Haven believes pit bull owners, rather than the dogs, are responsible for the negative stereotypes of pit bulls. She also lauded the decision to have the Montréal ban temporarily suspended.
“I think it’s fantastic that they are putting a hold on the ban. Most of the time it’s not the dog that’s the issue, it’s the way that the dog was raised,” Winter said.
“I’ve only had positive experiences with pit bulls all my life, but then again my dogs have always been around people and we’ve always had multiple dogs interacting with our pit bulls, and we’ve never had a problem … I’ve been walking my dog before and had chihuahuas and other dogs come at my dog, and my dog just look at them like, alright I’m going to try to jump up my mommy because you’re scaring me,” she added.
Cesar Millan, renowned dog trainer and publicly declared lover of pit bull-type dogs, also spoke out against the banning of this breed; suggesting instead that humans should do more to understand the nature of the breed. In an article published on his website, cesarsway.com, titled “Why I Love Pit Bulls,” Millan pointed out some helpful ways of engaging pit bulls, which he hopes will also lessen the negative stereotypes against the breed.
“It is the terrier determination that causes problems if they fight, because they’ll be oblivious to pain and just refuse to quit. As responsible owners, we should make sure to redirect those traits in healthy ways … these are strong dogs who need exercise. For instance, they love to pull. And they can carry a backpack when you go for a walk,” Milan said in his article.
“Abusing a dog doesn’t just mean chaining him up or hitting him. It also means not letting him fulfill his needs as a dog. Dogs, and especially dog owners, should be held accountable for their actions—for their deeds, not their breeds. Breed-specific legislation doesn’t address the problem. It just penalizes innocent dogs,” Millan concluded.
By Karrie Etzler