Posted in Opinions, Top Opinions

Montreal’s proposed pit bull ban is an unjust solution

Reducing incidents of aggression will come from protecting animals, not stigmatizing them

illustration_pitbulls-in-quebec_carolyn-yip
Image Credits: Carolyn Yip

If you’re a dog lover or a pit bull in Montreal, you might be out of luck. In response to Montreal resident Christiane Vadnais’ death after a dog mauled her, the city recently started trying to establish a law which would ban the entire pit bull breed — a proposal that has many owners in despair.

Any pit bull currently residing in a shelter would be euthanized, but the law is so vague on which canines qualify. Even dogs who only look like pit bulls — such as having “large heads” — can be a part of the ban. All humans currently owning such dogs as pets would be required to gain permits. Essentially, Montreal is Nazi Germany for pit bulls: you just have to look a certain way to be in danger.

This breedist thinking is simply nonsensical. The only pit bulls I’ve ever met have been sweet dogs with boundless love to give.

That being said, I know that vicious pit bulls exist — just like vicious dogs of any breed do. But pit bulls are not inherently bad, just like collies or labs aren’t. It’s the owners of these creatures who shape their personalities and behaviour.

Any animal that is abused or otherwise raised improperly is likely to behave aggressively, and we already know that large dogs can pose risks to others. Why are we acting surprised? Dogs that are kept on chains for two-thirds of their lives, hit, or neglected are bound to develop aggressions, and we should acknowledge this with empathy instead of fear.

Instead of banning an entire breed, it would be much more effective to create stricter standards and rules for people raising dogs, as well as to keep closer tabs on animal abusers, puppy mills, and dogfighting.

If we put more effort into making the tools and education necessary to raise an animal available, and cracked down on people who overstep the bounds of responsible dog ownership, we would see much more success in reducing dog-related injuries than we would by simply outlawing the breeds that seem more dangerous on the surface.

When approached with love, the pit bull breed is not inherently scary, mean, or dangerous. The ban in Montreal was merely a fear-based reaction to the tragic death of a woman via dog attack. This dog may have been a pit bull, but the same thing could have happened with any breed.

Animals shelters everywhere house hundreds of pit bull breeds and crosses, and Montreal is no exception. To murder each one of these creatures for something they can’t control is cruel and unusual.

Fortunately, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other interest groups are rallying against the new law in the interest of protecting the dogs. In fact, Quebec lobbyist groups have made some progress in eradicating the law. A judge in Quebec has temporarily suspended the breed ban, suggesting that Montreal “overstepped their bounds,” according to The Globe and Mail. It is my hope that these lobbyists will succeed, and animal lovers worldwide can rejoice.

  • Robert Ennell

    Montreal is Nazi Germany for ALL dogs, they just STARTED with pit bulls

    • e small

      I see, you are using Godwin’s Law so early in the discussion this time.

      Here is some information on BSL for anyone reading:

      “Communities that enact breed-specific legislation usually do because a single class of dogs — pit bulls — constitutes a small percent of the registered dog population but inflicts a disproportionate number of bites. This is further compounded by the fact that many pit bull bites result in severe injury. The rational basis for regulating pit bulls, as opposed to virtually all other breeds, is that selective breeding produced a dog with a bite style and attack traits unlike any other dog breed.” (From Dogs bite dot org, Breed-specific legislation FAQ)

      • Robert Ennell

        You might want to get your informations from reliable sources instead of made up statistical voodoo sites like dogbite.
        Sled dogs (Huskies, Malamutes, etc…) were involved in 5 of 6 deaths in Quebec since 1988, NOT pitbulls
        In Montreal this summer, it was a Boxer that was involved in the much publicizes death.
        (And, statistically, you are 7 times more likely to be killed by a lightning strike then by a dog attack from ALL breeds combined)

        • e small

          Robert, pit bull maulings and animal deaths bring up the total to 1 in 40 pit bulls killing at a conservative estimate.

          Pit bulls kill 66 dogs/day.

          Does lightening maul and kill thousands of animals every year, as pit bulls do?

          Does lightening maul 457 people a year?

          Why make the world more dangerous with pit bulls? We have control over the breed of dog we choose.

          Your argument makes no logical sense.

          As to the ‘boxer’…it is called a pit bull in every article. The owner ID’s the dog as a pit bull also, and its attacked before, and was also ID’d as a pit bull.

          and…
          “However, as pit bull-type dogs gradually, and almost singularly, came under legislation in several Canadian jurisdictions, this breed-type’s ranking in the present retrospective study cannot be compared easily with the ranking from the earlier US-based study. In nonfatal aggressive incidents, the pit bull did rank highest in 2000 and 2001 “-(Fatal dog attacks in Canada, 1990–2007
          Malathi Raghavan)…In other words, BSL seems to work…or anything that limits pit bulls in an area.

          Think of it, 6 dog deaths since 1988.

          Versus 26 dog deaths already in 2016 in the US.

          This is what BSL can do. It cannot eliminate every dog fatality, but it can almost eliminate them. Legislate one breed, and the problem is greatly reduced.

  • Mia Johnson

    Dozens of studies published in medical journals attest to the danger of pit bull dogs. Their attacks are generally unprovoked, and 53% of all attacks are on their owners, their children and senior family members.

    The media spin on Montreal’s ban is unbelievable. 30-40% of all dog bites in all 19 boroughs of Montreal last year were by pit bulls, despite the fact that fewer than 4% of all dogs in Montreal are pit bulls. All city council wants is for pit bull owners to get leashes and muzzles, neuter their dogs and register them. In a civilized society, this is not asking very much.

    October 22 is National Pit Bull VICTIM Awareness day, and it would be nice if the press would give it a mention in memory of the thousands of victims of pit bull attacks. For National Pit Bull Victim Awareness (.org)

  • e small

    Pit bull attacks are one of the biggest public safety issues in America today. In the last 3 months of 2015, pit bulls killed more people than Dobermans killed in 60 years.

    More than 1 in 40 pit bulls killed or seriously injured another animal in 2013-2014. By comparison, only 1 dog in 50,000 of all other breed types combined killed or seriously injured another animal.Pit bull attacks have increased 830% in seven years in the US and Canada.

    In addition to attacks on people, pit bulls killed 24,000 other dogs and 13,000 cats in the US in 2015, or 66 dogs per day.
    (from National Pit Bull Victim Awareness)

    • Robert Ennell

      Dude, do some REAL research instead of just spewing fabrications from bogus websites

      • e small

        Anyone reading, there are many websites that research pit bull attacks, and the consequences of them. Here is some information from their website, for anyone reading:

        What does National Pit Bull Victim Awareness want?

        We want the public to be aware of the excessive numbers of pit bull attacks.
        We want taxpayers to understand the cost of subsidizing pit bull breeding, the cost of pit bull attacks, and the economic issues of up-to-80% pit bulls in taxpayer-funded shelters.

        We want the media to put victims first.

        We want the media to report the emotional impact of pit bull attacks on families and communities.

        We want mandatory spay/neutering for pit bulls to reduce their numbers.

        We want pit bull owners to have sufficient liability insurance to cover the medical costs of victims. In most cases, victims are left to pay the cost of life-flights, ambulances, emergency hospital treatments, and numerous surgeries for years to come. A victim’s first night in care can easily reach $20,000. For animals, the average vet bill after a pit bull attack is $7,000.

  • Jamitron

    “Instead of banning an entire breed, it would be much more effective to create stricter standards and rules for people raising dogs, as well as to keep closer tabs on animal abusers, puppy mills, and dogfighting”

    I don’t understand how a complete ban (which largely removes the problem) is less effective than instituting rules and standards on animals and owners who don’t follow them now?

  • e small

    Breed-specific law statistics:

    Over 900 U.S. cities have adopted breed-specific laws since the mid 1980s, just after pit bulls (fighting dogs) began leaking into the general population.

    (From Estimated U.S. Cities, Counties and Military Facilities with Breed-Specific Laws by DogsBite dot org, 2016)

    Over 290 U.S. military bases governed by the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Space Command, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and Navy regulate dangerous dog breeds.

    (From Estimated U.S. Cities, Counties and Military Facilities with Breed-Specific Laws by DogsBite dot org, 2016)

    Over 40 countries across the world — or parts within these countries — regulate dangerous dog breeds with breed-specific laws.

    (From Estimated U.S. Cities, Counties and Military Facilities with Breed-Specific Laws by DogsBite dot org, 2016)

    • Robert Ennell

      You have to stop quoting that “DogBite” website if you want to be taken seriously.
      It’s about as credible as then Santa Claus and the easter bunny……..

      • e small

        Its actually quite a credible website. Anyone else reading, this is what Dogsbite does:
        “DogsBite dot org is a public education website about dangerous dog breeds, chiefly pit bulls. We are the primary 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to putting the safety of humans before dogs and the principal source of information on this topic that is not owned, controlled, or funded by dog breeders, dog advocacy, veterinarian or animal welfare groups. ”
        DogsBite dot org is a research and education nonprofit organization dedicated to conducting research on the growing, but underreported, public safety issue of severe and fatal dog attacks inflicted by well-documented dangerous dog breeds. We educate the public, law enforcement, journalists, attorneys and policymakers on the results of our research to prevent new life-altering attacks and to improve local, state and national policies to help protect the health and safety of human beings.
        DogsBite dot org is also the primary whistleblower combating well-funded animal “expert” groups that manipulate the truth about dangerous dog breeds, primarily pit bulls. As maulings, maimings and deaths inflicted by a distinct group of dog breeds continues to accelerate3 and more communities seek solutions, DogsBite dot org is needed now more than ever. We are the public’s countervailing force to these well-funded animal groups that have no mission or duty to protect human lives.”
        Anyone reading, please do check it out…Dogs bite dot org.

        • Robert Ennell

          it’s a sham website that wouldn’t klnow a proper statistical analysis if it bit it on the ass…
          (and it’s used primarily by internet trolls that hide behind “private” or fake profiles)

          • e small

            That isn’t a very convincing argument, Robert. This is a page from Dogs bite dot org’s website, explaining their methods of researching fatal dog attacks. By the way, Dogs bite dot org reports all fatal dog attacks involving humans, regardless of breed. It just happens that most of them are pit bulls:

            “The identification photographs are a supplement to the extreme number of multi-sourced news reports that we collect for each fatal dog attack victim and are listed on our Dog Bite Fatality Citations pages. Though we are still collecting news reports for 2015 — there will be criminal trials, autopsy report information and more — so far we have collected over 615 citations for 35 victims. We invite you to glance over the 2015 Dog Bite Fatality Citations page to review its length.

            News reports pertaining to fatal dog attacks — with or without identification photographs — are nearly always multi-sourced. This means that multiple parties have identified the dog’s breed including, but not limited to: animal control officers, police officers or sheriff’s deputies, other public safety officials, the dog’s owner or family members, witnesses and even veterinarians. The images are often greatly helpful, but are also just one component of the overall information available.”

          • Robert Ennell

            HAHAHA… Multi sourced…cute.
            Quoting other websites that are all owned by the same person is not considered multisourcing for REAL journalists and scientists.
            (and neither are Tarot cards)

          • e small

            Peer reviewed science articles are not tarot cards, Robert. Nor are they owned by Colleen Lynn…

            As for the news reports, I encourage anyone to look them up. They are multi sourced. Here are science articles that do not feature Colleen Lynn as an author 😉

            (Lynn cannot publish a science article btw, she is not a scientist. It is interesting that these articles come to tangential conclusions as to pit bulls and severe attacks):

            Dog bites of the head and neck: an evaluation of a common pediatric trauma and associated treatment
            Daniel C. O’Brien, , Tyler B. Andre, Aaron D. Rob
            ( The largest (breed injury) group were pit bull terriers, whose resultant injuries were more severe and resulted from unprovoked, unknown dogs.)

            Characteristics of 1616 Consecutive Dog Bite Injuries at a Single Institution
            Michael S. Golinko, MD, MA1, Brian Arslanian, MD2, and Joseph K. Williams, MD, FAAP2,3
            (Pit bull bites were implicated in half of all surgeries performed and over 2.5 times as likely to bite in multiple anatomic locations as compared to other breeds.)

            Ocular Trauma From Dog Bites: Characterization, Associations, and Treatment Patterns at a Regional Level I Trauma Center Over 11 Years
            Mark A. Prendes, M.D., Arash Jian-Amadi, M.D., Shu-Hong Chang, M.D., and Solomon S. Shaftel, M.D., Ph.D.Department of Ophthalmology, Division of Oculoplastics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A
            (The pit bull was the canine breed most associated with dog bite injuries in the trauma registry).

            There are many more of these studies, anyone else reading.

          • Robert Ennell

            There’s No Evidence That Banning Breeds has Any Impact on Dog Bites.

            The Facts • Studies have shown that BSL has not reduced bites in the UK (Klaassen, Buckley, & Esmail, 1996), Germany (Schalke, Ott, & von Gaertner, 2008; Ott, Schalke, von Gaertner, & Hackbarth, 2008) or the Netherlands (Cornelissen & Hopster, 2010)
            Visual determinations of breed made by a Victorian government appointed ‘breed panel’ of experts was overturned by legal challenge. • There are no definitive objective criteria, such as a DNA test, to identify a Pitbull Terrier.
            The effects of BSL on public safety are seriously understudied, especially by the scientific community. The few scientific studies that exist have indicated that BSL has little to no effect on public safety. In some cases, as in the U.K., dog bites appear to be a growing problem in spite of BSL. To date, there are no scientific studies anywhere that confirm BSL or breed bans have had a significant positive effect on public safety
            “Breed-specific” legislation (BSL) is, essentially, canine bigotry, the term refers to regional laws that ban or regulate certain breeds of dog in the hopes of reducing attacks on humans.
            Not only is BSL unjust, it just doesn’t work. Anywhere. And the stats prove it. Because of this, many cities (and states and countries) have repealed their antiquated BSL laws over the years.

            Members of the National Animal Control Association, the ASPCA, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and many other canine welfare groups deal with aggressive dogs on a regular basis. So do these major animal organizations support breed-specific legislation? No. In fact, none of these professional groups do.
            American Bar Association (ABA)
            American Dog Owners Association (ADOA)
            American Humane
            American Kennel Club (AKC)
            American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
            American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
            American Working Dog Federation (AWDF)
            Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)
            Best Friends Animal Society
            Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
            Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
            International Assocation of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
            International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP)
            National Animal Control Association (NACA)
            National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA)
            National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI)

          • e small

            There is quite a bit here to talk about. Let start with the UK Study:
            The full title of the first study is:
            *Does the Dangerous Dogs Act protect against animal attacks: a prospective study of mammalian bites in the Accident and Emergency department B. Klaassen’, J. R. Buckley” and A. Esmail’*Department of Accident and Emergency, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, ?Stracathro Hospital, Brechin, and ‘Dundee Royal Infirmary, Dundee, Scotland, UK

            This study covers any bite that people received. In addition to dog bites, they also included bites by a hamster and a chinchilla, and included bites by people.

            For the entire group, only 1 person was referred to plastic surgery. Only 3 bites in the two very short 3 month periods they monitored was something that could be classified as a serious bite.

            They covered this problem in their study in the discussion section, stating:

            “Our study demonstrates hat out of 134 consecutive mammalian bites attending an urban A E department only three (2.1 per cent) in 1991 and two (1.5 per cent) in 1993/1994 required referral for specialist management. The vast majority, it would seem, are treated within the confines of the A E department. Thus a study of this group of patients should be more comprehensive and meaningful ”

            Unfortunately, the study does not indicate which mammals were implicated in the serious bites. I do not think the hamster or the chinchilla were responsible for them though….

            Its also important to consider the dates on this paper. In 1991, I am not sure of the population of pit bulls. They are more popular now then they were then.

            The Dangerous Dog act was introduced in the UK in 1991, so in 1994 it may well be that BSL did work, preventing pit bulls from mauling. The article is not conclusive in its reasoning, as it writes that “The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 does little to protect the public from mammalian bites”.

            Its not the responsibility of the Dangerous Dog act to protect the public from chinchilla, hamster, horse, cat, rat, or human bites, which are all included in this study. No one has ever stated that other dogs don’t bite. What they don’t do is maul at the rate or the severity of a pit bull. This is the reason for BSL, maulings-not bites.
            ……….
            The second study:
            *Is there a difference? Comparison of golden retrievers and dogs affected by breed-specific legislation regarding aggressive behavior Stefanie A. Ott, DVMc, Esther Schalke, DVM, Amelie M. von Gaertner, DVM, Hansjoachim Hackbarth, DVM, PhD. Institute for Animal Welfare and Behaviour, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Hanover, Germany

            This study temperament tested different breeds of dogs, using Golden Retrievers as a control group.

            Temperament testing does not accurately predict pit bull aggression. Perhaps that wasn’t known as well in 2007, when the study was done.
            ……………
            The third study:
            Vet J. 2010 Dec;186(3):292-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2009.10.001. Epub 2009 Oct 29.
            Dog bites in The Netherlands: a study of victims, injuries, circumstances and aggressors to support evaluation of breed specific legislation. Cornelissen JM1, Hopster H.

            In this study, “Data were collected from dog bite victims (1078) and dog owners (6139) using Internet surveys.”

            This study looks at situational reasons for dog bites, not maulings and deaths (the reason why people want BSL). These are not dog attacks, and they did not examine breed. Its a bit like examine lifestyle reasons for lung cancer, without looking at smoking. Its very nice, but it isn’t focusing on the issue we are discussing.
            **
            The rest you wrote is opinion. These are some recommendations from the ASPCA’s guide to handling pit bulls in a shelter environment:

            -Still bred for fighting today
            -Many Pits entering shelters are dogs bred for fighting
            -Pits don’t always give the traditional signs of warning before they bite
            -They(pit bulls) often do not signal or warn of an attack, and may not respond to normal signs of submission when fighting
            -Install a panic button in rooms housing pi tbulls along with other restraint equipment in any room housing pit bulls (From The Care of Pit Bulls in theShelter Environment
            Leslie D. Appel, DVM Director of Shelter Veterinary Outreach ASPCA)

advertisement