Montreal has just elected its first female Mayor, Valerie Plante, who plans on reversing the breed-specific legislation enacted by the previous Mayor.
The SPCA (Society for the Protection of Animals) is celebrating the win of Mayor-elect Valerie Plante, who promises to be the voice for animals as part of her plans to implement positive change.
Plante just won the election this month to become the first-ever female Mayor of Montreal.
In 2016, this city's government upset animal lovers worldwide by enacting breed-specific legislation. Basically, this was a ban of pit bulls in the city of Montreal.
Plante promises to reverse that damaging law.
Many animal rights advocates are hoping to see this promised reversal occur soon; according to Johanne Tasse, this could be as soon as March 1st. Tasse is a member of the Adoption Centers for Companion Animals of Quebec.
Calgary recently followed the SPCA’s proposed model of requiring that dog be registered and leashed at all times, with punishments including fines up to $1,500 for refusal to comply.
The city is also facilitating the process of reporting dog bites, though they are not keeping track of bites by breed.
SPCA lawyer Sophie Gaillard said her organization is happy to help the new administration in putting these measures in place in order to both reverse BSL and prevent dog bites and other related issues.
History of Breed-Specific Legislation in Montreal
When Montreal banned the ownership of pit bulls in the city, former mayor Denis Coderre (who supported the ban) received a lot of pushback from the Montreal SPCA.
The city had to “return to the drawing board” to even definitively specify what the targeted breeds were, and how to identify them.
The ASPCA has fought for years to tackle the issue of breed-specific legislation (BSL), which arguably causes more harm than good where it takes effect.
While the intention of BSL is to reduce dog bites, there are a lot of issues taken by animal rights advocates.
The Problem with BSL
For one, the bans are often for “pit bull and pit bull-type dogs.” A boxer or lab mix could be mistakenly identified as a pit bull by non-professionals. And pit bulls are actually a mixed breed!
Disturbingly, Montreal defined pit bulls as “Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and any mix with these breeds” as well as “any dog that presents characteristics of one of those breeds.”
Studies went on to show that relying on looks alone was wildly ineffective. It was literally up to the eye of the beholder whether or not a dog looked as if it should be banned from the city of Montreal.
Secondly, there is no correlation between pit bulls and high rates of dog bites. In fact, pit bulls bite less frequently than Chihuahuas. But no city has banned Chihuahuas.
And of utmost importance is the observed trend that BSL actually can make the situations worse. When Toronto enacted BSL in 2005, dog bites actually increased, despite pit bulls being all but eliminated from the city.
The point here is that by focusing on getting rid of dogs who had a certain appearance, with total disregard for their behavior, more effective laws and changes were missed.
Tactics such as enforcing dog licenses, cracking down on dog fighting rings, helping owners and pets stay together during tough times, and strict leash laws are all proven ways of helping decrease an area’s bite rate incidents – because the responsibility is put on the owner to control their dog.
Bottom line: BSL is a short-sighted response to the issues of dogs biting people, and long-term approaches promoting responsible ownership will be much more effective.
It is better to prevent a problem than react to it, and instead to target the people training dogs to attack other people rather than ban entire breeds of dogs.
Though Plante has these ideas in mind, an obstacle she may face is the provincial government; they would like to ban several breeds of dogs province-wide, including pit bulls.
But there are additional animal rights issues Plante can address as well.
The SPCA is hoping she will ban caleches, which are horse drawn carriages in Old Montreal. Recently, this practice has come under fire with disturbing photos of collapsed horses going viral.