Montreal “must consider the immediate appeal” of Judge Louis Gouin’s decision to suspend the city ban on pit bulls
Animal control in the city of Montreal has suffered many shortcomings, which led to security problems for the citizens and also problems of inappropriate treatment of animals. My administration has therefore decided to attack these two problems head on.
“Very high standards”
We announced in 2014 an investment of $23 million for the construction of a municipal animal services center. Construction is to begin in the spring of 2017, with the opening scheduled for 2018. The Montreal animal services center will collect and shelter stray animals, search for the animals’ owners, provide veterinary care, do public education, and enforce the Montreal city animal bylaws.
Unclaimed animals will be put up for adoption after being examined, groomed, vaccinated, and sterilized.
This approach demonstrates our sensitivity and our respect for the lives of animals. Montrealers have very high standards for animal care and well-being.
First priority is well-being & safety
That said, my first priority is always to ensure the well-being and safety of our human citizens. Therefore we have adopted a regulation aimed generally at dangerous dogs, and more specifically the pit bull, the most problematic type of dog, who is already the subject of prohibition in many cities in Quebec, in the province of Ontario, and elsewhere around in the world.
The reasons why we adopted this new regulation are well known: journalists have lifted the veil on the phenomenon of attacks and bites by dogs, especially pit bulls, and on the sense of impunity which seems to prevail among owners of dangerous dog.
The death of Christiane Vadnais, one of our citizens who was killed by a dog, has intensified feelings of insecurity among our population. Clearly, the authorities are alarmed throughout Quebec, and many cities have chosen to review their regulations.
“Disappointed” at judge’s ruling
Yesterday, October 5, 2016, a Montreal Superior Court judge chose to suspend the provisions of the new Montreal regulation prohibiting pit bull-type dogs, pending a hearing on the merits of the regulation.
We are disappointed at this turn of events. The purpose of this regulation is to ensure the safety of our citizens, among a series of other measures required for owners of pets, especially for those who possess a dangerous dog.
We knew that we were going to confront the pit bull advocacy lobby. The debate quickly took on an emotional tone, that we regret. Our one and only concern is the safety of our citizens.
Prohibiting the acquisition of new pit bull-type dogs, from the date of entry into force of the regulation, we believe is a sensible solution to the problem of attacks and repeated bites. These requirements address a disproportionate number of attacks by this type of dog and the much more serious injuries they can inflict.
Current owners of dogs of pit bull-type dogs have never been told they would have to euthanize their animal. On the contrary, they can keep their pit bull in accordance with certain conditions: to obtain a special permit, for which they will be required to prove of microchip identification, sterilization and vaccination against rabies. They will also have to show that they themselves have no history of criminal violence.
These requirements are issued because of the disproportionate number of attacks committed by pit bull-type dogs, as well as because the injuries caused by pit bull-type dogs tend to be much more serious than ordinary dog bites.
Criticisms are based on misrepresentations
We are criticized for allegedly focusing on pit bull-type dogs, without worrying about other dangerous dogs. This is false. The Montreal regulation stipulates that to keep any dogs who have already bitten and are declared at risk, obtaining a special license will be compulsory and strict conditions for keeping those dogs safely must be respected.
We are accused of having moved too fast to adopt our new regulations. This is also untrue. Our draft regulation passed through all the usual steps of the municipal lawmaking process, and was in progress even as the situation became urgent, after the death of Christiane Vadnais on June 8, 2016, as result of an attack by a pit bull-type dog.
We are criticized for addressing animals, rather than their owners. This is untrue. Our regulation is primarily intended to empower people to keep pets, even those whose behavior is far from being above reproach.
Keeping a dog or cat is a privilege, not a right
Keeping a dog or a cat in Montreal is not a right; it is a privilege that comes with obligations.
With great respect for the opinion of the judge and the judicial institution, we consider the decision to suspend enforcement of our new bylaw to be ill-founded both in fact and in law. The right of cities to ban pit bull-type dogs has been clearly recognized in the past by the Superior court of Quebec.
There is no emergency imperative to have suspended immediately all of the provisions of our bylaw relating to the various recognized breeds of pit bull-type dog, namely the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, and the Staffordshire bull terrier.
“We will not yield to threats or lobbying”
The City of Montreal must consider the immediate appeal of the judge’s decision.
We will yield neither to threats nor to lobbying. We reaffirm our commitment to banish the pit bull-type dogs from the City of Montreal, as was already done in many other Quebec cities, Ontario, in France and in hundreds of jurisdictions around the world.
When we talk about security of our citizens, we will not be compromised.
(Translated by Merritt Clifton, editor, ANIMALS 24-7, for 13 years a working journalist in Quebec, this statement was originally published on Denis Coderre’s personal Facebook page and web site. Because robotic translations tend to render idioms literally, thereby losing their meaning, this text will differ somewhat from those of Google Translate, Facebook, et al.)