Demonstrators Gather In Opposition To Proposed Montreal Pit Bull Ban
Action Comes Weeks Before the Ban Is Meant to be Implemented
On June 8, 2016, Pointe-aux-Trembles resident Christiane Vadnais died after being mauled by what was described by police to be a pit bull.
Ten days later, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced in a press conference that the city and its 19 boroughs would be seeking the approval of their respective councils in September to ban the controversial pets.
More than 100 protesters—and some dogs—gathered at Montreal’s City Hall on Sunday, where the City Council is set to officialize a ban on pit bulls on Sept. 26. The ban will affect different breeds such as American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, and a few others according to Montreal bylaws.
Pit bull owners such as Maya Rice have been protesting against the proposed ban regularly since June.
“The whole issue is that owners get them not understanding that they can be aggressive like any dog because they’re extremely, extremely loyal,” said Rice, who has attended every protest against the pit bull ban.
The organizers, Protection Pit Bulls and S.O.S. Bull Terrier Canada, called upon owners to gather in front of Montreal’s City Hall, where the group started its walk. Protection Pit Bulls, an organisation made up of 11 volunteers, has already met the provincial government.
“Two volunteers went to meet [Philippe] Couillard’s team. They pointed out that in every place where bans were put into effect such as Ontario and Calgary, the rate of dog biting didn’t diminish and people were not protected,” said Sara Van Houtte, one of Protection Pit Bull’s members.
Shortly after the death of Vadnais, the provincial government created a working group on dangerous dogs led by Public Safety Minister Martin Coiteux. The group released its final report on Aug. 31. It had 10 recommendations but none that called for a ban.
The provincial government is not the only group opposing Coderre’s suggestion. The city’s head veterinarian Dr. Suzanne Lecomte and her committee advised not to ban pit bulls.
Kim Lavoie, along with her husband and Marie Eve Chayer, manage S.O.S Bull Terrier Quebec, an organization that works with dog shelters. The three-member group receives bull terriers to offer them for adoption and also rehabilitates severely handicapped dogs.
Lavoie and her husband work from Valcartier, Quebec, and Chayer from Montreal.
Bull terriers are often confused with pit bulls, Lavoie told The Link. Chayer herself was stopped and asked if the dog was a pit bull while she was out for a walk.
On Aug. 22, Lavoie and her husband planned on attending the Montreal city council meeting but unfortunately arrived late and could not get in. They were still able to relay their questions to Protection Pit Bulls who then passed on their to the council.
Lavoie believes politicians’ lack of knowledge about dogs will have an impact on their decision.
“It’s a law that’s ineffective,” said Van Houtte. “We say pit bull, but what’s a pit bull? Is it every dog with a squared jaw and muscles? Not really. Pit bulls are American Pit bull Terriers, a breed that was created to be super nice to humans.”
“We have to inform dog owners and the population,” added Van Houtte. “The rate of dog biting is due to the fact that people don’t understand dog signals, also because they don’t know how to supervise their dogs, because how do you teach a pit bull? It’s not a shih tzu […] Our mission is to educate people.”