For pit bull owners in Montreal, this is a stressful weekend.
The city’s municipal council is set to vote Monday on legislation that would ban residents from acquiring pit bulls and place severe restrictions on people who already have pit bulls as pets, CBC reports.
By the end of 2019, all dog owners in the city will be required to have their pets embedded with a microchip and get them spayed or neutered. But owners of dogs considered “pit bulls” under the new guidelines would additionally be required to undergo a criminal background check, keep their dog muzzled and on a leash less than four feet long in public and pay a $150 permit fee.
Mayor Denis Coderre has repeatedly championed the legislation as being in the interest of public safety, but the ban’s numerous opponents point out it will result in huge numbers of innocent, friendly dogs being put to death.
“There are a lot of low-income and homeless people in Montreal who simply won’t be able to afford all of the criteria they need in order to get the special permit,” Alanna Devine, animal advocacy director of the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told The Dodo. “Those dogs will have to be seized and have to be euthanized.”
Pit bulls without a home would suffer a similar fate, as the provisions would allow no new pit bull adoptions. The group’s shelters typically take in about 700 pit bull-type dogs each year, Devine said.
“And those animals can’t be adopted out, which means adoptable, behaviourally sound dogs and puppies would have to be put to death,” Devine told the CBC earlier this month. The Montreal SPCA said they would no longer provide dog-control services for the city if the ban goes through.
The proposed legislation defines a “pit bull” as an American pit bull terrier, a bull terrier, an American Staffordshire terrier, a Staffordshire bull terrier or a cross involving one of those breeds, according to CTV News. It also includes dogs that share physical characteristics with those breeds and crosses — a vague provision that opponents of the law worry could effectively cover any large dog with short hair and a big head.
Officials announced the proposed ban in June, 10 days after a loose dog mauled 55-year-old Christiane Vadnais to death in her own backyard. Police at the time characterized the dog as a “pit bull,” and the incident was widely publicized in the media as a pit bull attack. But it’s unclear if the dog in question was actually a pit bull — the dog was registered with the city as a boxer, and a police spokesperson told Radio-Canada this week that officers “have no expertise whatsoever” that would allow them to identify the breed of the dog.
“I think they should come out of their house and come see our dogs and see how they are,” pit bull owner Lynn Groulx told Global News during a September protest against the ban.