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.