While the Quebec government studies the issues of dangerous dogs and consults with municipalities, many of which have already implemented bans on pit bulls in particular, the City of Côte Saint-Luc is reinforcing an existing bylaw.
Our most recent bylaw regarding dangerous dogs was adopted in 2009. In the wake of a series of high-profile dog attacks, our Public Safety Department has sent letters to current owners of pit bulls in our community that we have on record, asking that they be muzzled. This will be extended to other dogs we deem to be potentially dangerous.A
Alanna Devine of the Montreal SPCA has let me know how she feels about the issue."Breed specific legislation is ineffective, unenforceable and unfair," she noted. "It doesn’t do anything to make communities safer and punishes responsible dog owners who happen to have dogs that look a specific way. Even with grandfather clauses, many adoptable dogs and puppies in shelters will be condemned to death because there will be nowhere for them to go. They won’t be able to be adopted because of the way that they look."
According to our present bylaw, a "dangerous dog" means: a dog which has a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, bite, threaten, or injure, with or without provocation, any persons, property or other animals; with or without provocation or physical injury, attacks, bites, or threatens any person, property; a domestic animal that has been trained for dog fighting or to attack upon a command . In the event that the owner and/or custodian of a dangerous dog fails to comply with the obligation to muzzle the animal when on any public property throughout the city of Côte Saint-Luc, he shall be liable to a fine.
Is this strong enough? I do not think so, given recent events. This is why we really need the government to step in. As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I know how it must feel for someone who has a pet they love, only to be threatened to have it taken away via legislation. Several municipalities do have laws on the books banning pit bulls. However, they are not the only breeds that pose a threat. We will wait to see what the Quebec government decides for that will impact on our future actions. An advisory group, though, does not appear to pushing for a pit bull ban according to this report. In the meantime, I wish to urge the owners of dogs considered to be dangerous to please use a muzzle.
Again, Alanna commented: "Responsible dog owners who happen to have a dog that looks a certain way end up being harassed and discriminated against – and forcing dogs to have muzzles reinforces the false notion that these dogs are somehow ‘dangerous’ – which is scientifically untrue."
The City of Laval wants Ottawa to make changes to the Criminal Code of Canada to create uniform rules across the country to deal with the problem of dangerous dogs. Right now, it's possible to charge owners of dogs who attack people with criminal negligence, but it rarely happens. Laval Mayor Marc Demers said that the article in the Criminal Code dealing with criminal negligence should be amended to make specific reference to the responsibilities of dog owners."We would like the federal government to do its homework, so it would be all across Canada the same thing, it won't change from city to city," Demers told CBC News."That way, across the country, if you bring up your dog to be vicious so he may attack somebody, you are responsible for that."
In recent weeks we have had some disturbing incidents in our own community. At one park, three people with large dogs (a pit bull, a rottweiler and another breed ) were approached by a Public Security agent and asked to leave the premises with the dogs. The owner responded that her dogs were trained to attack on command and loosened her grip on the leash. Fearing for his safety, the agent called immediately for police back-up who arrived, handcuffed the woman in the back of the police car and pointed a Taser at one of the men. Police declarations were filled out and we believe charges were filed against one or all of the individuals involved.
Meanwhile, we had a pit bull attack when the dog escaped from a ground floor apartment and attacked a pug. The dog in question already had a muzzle order in place. Public Security and police were on scene. We issued tickets and the police pressed criminal negligence charges against the owner.
As of January 1, 2017, any dog on a list of banned breeds in Quebec City will be prohibited. Anyone caught with a banned dog will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offence. The City of Montreal is working to come up with a uniform set of rules regarding "dangerous dogs" across its 19 boroughs, but won't say if it's leaning toward an all-out ban on any particular breed. Here is a recent TV report.
In Ontario a pit bull ban was proposed in 2004 after a number of cases in which people were badly injured in pit bull attacks. It was passed in 2005. "The legislation bans pit bulls in Ontario, places restrictions on existing pit bulls, and toughens the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public," Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General says on its website.
The legislation, called the Dog Owners' Liability Act, defines a pit bull as a pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or any dog "that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar.