Hearing set for November 25, 2016
MONTREAL––Quebec Court of Appeal Judge Manon Savard on October 20, 2016 allowed the City of Montreal to appeal the October 5, 2016 suspension of the city pit bull ordinance by Superior Court Judge Louis Gouin.
Having already temporarily suspended enforcement of the ordinance on October 3, 2016, the day it was to take effect, Gouin two days later extended the suspension until such time as all litigation against the ordinance is heard and the ban is held to be legal under Quebec and Canadian law.
“Character required” to justify appeal
This could mean a delay of years while lower courts review the multiple cases filed against the Montreal ban by the Montreal SPCA and other pit bull advocates, and the verdicts, whichever way they go, proceed through appeals.
Wrote Judge Savard, “I think the situation has the character required to justify permission to appeal the order.”
But stay remains in effect until hearing on appeal
However, Judge Savard allowed the suspension of the ordinance to remain in effect pending a hearing of the appeal scheduled for November 25, 2016.
Immediately lifting the suspension, Judge Savard said, “is not necessary considering the early date of hearing.”
At the November 25, 2016 hearing, a City of Montreal representative will be given half an hour to make a case as to why the suspension should be lifted, after which the Montreal SPCA will be allowed to give a half an hour rebuttal.
Lower court judge wanted definition of “pit bull” weakened
Judge Gouin on October 3, 2016 all but ordered the Montreal city council to amend the definition of “pit bull” in the ordinance, interpreting the term “pit bull” to be a “breed,” the traits of which might be extinguished after a specific number of crosses with other breeds, rather than a morphological type, the dangerous characteristics of which might be intensified by out-crosses to enhance size, strength, and speed.
Mayor pursues appeal
Instead of yielding to Gouin, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre on October 6, 2016 announced that his administration would pursue an immediate appeal.
“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,” Coderre wrote, in a statement published by ANIMALS 24-7 (in translation) as well as by other media.
“These requirements address a disproportionate number of attacks by this type of dog,” Coderre said, “and the much more serious injuries they can inflict.”
“Elements remain suspended”
Explained Montreal Gazette reporter Rene Bruemmer, “For now, elements of the bylaw pertaining to pit bull-type dogs remain suspended. That means the dogs can still be acquired and adopted, and current owners do not have to buy a special $150 permit or muzzle them when outdoors.
“If the city wins its appeal,” Bruemmer said, “the suspension will be lifted and the pit bull ban will come into effect. If the city does not win, the suspension will stay in place pending a court case on the legality of the new bylaw, to be heard months from now.”
Pit bulls still up for adoption
Montreal SPCA representative Sophie Gaillard told Marie Christine Trottier of the Journal de Montreal that she was pleased the suspension would remain in effect at least until November 25, 2016, as “It will allow us to continue to put pit bulls up for adoption.”
Voting trends favor the ban
Judge Savard authorized the appeal by the City of Montreal to proceed one day after a Forum Research poll commissioned by the Montreal Gazette, which editorially opposes the pit bull ban, reported that support for the ban “has weakened significantly.”
The actual numbers suggest the appearance of weakened support would vanish if adjusted to reflect voting trends.
Summarized Gazette writer Bruemmer, “The city is now divided over the question, according to a survey of 808 people over the weekend of October 15-16, 2016. Forty-nine per cent of respondents said they approve of Montreal’s ban on pit bull-type dogs, while 44% are against it, with 6% saying they have no opinion on the issue.
La Presse survey found 70% support for ban
“That is a marked drop in support for the idea of banning pit bulls,” Bruemmer said, “compared to a CROP-La Presse survey taken in June 2016, two weeks after 55-year-old Christiane Vadnais was fatally mauled by a neighbor’s dog in her backyard in Pointe-aux-Trembles,” a Montreal borough.
The dog who killed Vadnais was a pit bull, who had been registered as a boxer, La Presse investigative reporter Marie-Claude Malboef discovered, to avoid a borough-wide pit bull ban already in effect.
The June poll, recalled Bruemmer, found 70% support for the pit bull ban.
“Striking is the large disparity,” acknowledged Bruemmer, “that has emerged between the anglophone (English-speaking) and francophone (French-speaking response: Only 36% of polled anglophones favor the ban, while 50% of francophones are in favor.
“Those who classified their mother tongue as neither English nor French are 64% in favor of the ban,” Bruemmer wrote.
French-speaking people currently constitute 65% of the total population of Greater Montreal, and about 80% of the total population of Quebec province. English-speaking people are 12.6% of Greater Montreal, but less than 10% of the total population of Quebec province. People whose first language is neither French nor English are 20.4% of Greater Montreal, but about 12% of the total population of Quebec province.
The raw data projects approximately the 49%-44% split in public opinion that Forum Research reported (actually 50%-44%).
Parents favor the ban
However, Bruemmer added, “Older residents, parents of children, the wealthy, and the more highly educated are also more likely to favor the ban,” as contrasted to those in the 18-to-34-year-old category, only 27% of whom favored it.
Conversely, Bruemmer acknowledged, “Among those 35 and older, approval rates hovered around 58%.”
The youngest age group polled are the Montreal residents least likely to vote or be registered to vote, and include the student populations of the several Montreal universities, many of whom are only transiently part of the community. The median age of greater Montreal residents is about age 40, but the median age of voters is 45+.