Pit Bull Lovers Gather to Protest City’s Ban

Protesters Gathered Outside BanQ While Denis Coderre Attended a Conference Inside

Shanelle Foucault and Maude Deshaies were among the protesters gathered outside the BanQ to oppose the now-suspended pit bull bylaw.  Photo Claire Loewen
Protesters gathered outside the BanQ to oppose the now-suspended pit bull bylaw. Photo Claire Loewen
Protesters gathered outside the BanQ to oppose the now-suspended pit bull bylaw. Photo Claire Loewen

As Mayor Denis Coderre presented at a conference to discuss the future of Montreal for its 375th year, people dressed as dogs gathered in the streets below.

Brandishing signs that read “Muzzle for Coderre,” dog owners and sympathizers stood at the corner of De Maisonneuve Blvd. and Berri St. on Tuesday evening to protest a bylaw that has now been suspended.

If passed, the legislation would prevent any Montrealer from adopting a pit bull, and those already living here would be forced to wear a muzzle at all times while outside of their homes. They would also need to be kept on a leash no longer than 1.25 meters. Otherwise, the city would have the right to order the seizure and euthanization of the dog.

Protesters stood outside the Grande Bibliothèque on Berri St., some of whom wore muzzles themselves. A woman held a “Pit Bull Lives Matter” sign, and some people were in chains.

Peter McQueen, city councillor for Projet Montreal, addressed the crowd around 6 p.m.

“The courts will delay the implementation until next year, and after the election next year, a new administration will be in power who will certainly stop this madness,” McQueen said in French to the crowd.

The bylaw was created in the wake of a pit bull attack that killed 55-year-old Montrealer Christiane Valdais. The Montreal SPCA has filed legal action against the bylaw, which has now been suspended until a final court ruling is announced.

The judge presiding is Justice Louis Gouin, who called the definition of a “pit bull-type dog” vague and imprecise. Any dog with the physical traits of a pit bull would fall under the current proposed bylaw.

“The bylaw makes no sense,” said Patricia Legries, a Montreal pit bull owner. “Innocent family dogs are going to get taken away under the law, the way it’s written now.”

Legries said the fault should lie with the owner, rather than the dog. She agreed with some other protesters who said Montreal should follow Calgary’s policy surrounding dangerous dogs.

Calgary’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw regulates dogs, and does not differentiate based on breed. The bylaw encourages education, training and socialization, superintendent with community standards for Calgary Doug Frizzell told CBC.

“If this event would have happened in Calgary, the [pit bull’s owner] would have been thrown in jail,” Legries said. “And here we do nothing.”

Andrew Garrity is the owner of two mixed-breed dogs. Holding a sign reading “BSL: Bullshit Legislation,” he agreed that Montreal should follow Calgary’s lead.

“The way we deal with it is what Calgary has done, where with education and encouraging people to register their dogs, not punishing them for not doing it,” Garrity said.

Later, addressing the crowd, Garrity spoke passionately about his will to fight for his dogs.

“I will not give up until my dogs are safe and this man is out of office,” he said. “We need to take responsibility for what humans do.”