Dog lovers (particularly pit bull owners) can breath a quick sigh of relief this morning. After yesterday’s ruling by the Montreal Superior Court Judge, the discriminatory law targeting pit bulls is stopped in it’s tracks.
But there’s a major problem, and dog lovers/owners should not relax and celebrate.
The pit bulls, and dogs, of Montreal are not yet safe…granted they may not be moving forward with the law at this moment, but it’s not put to rest. Not even close.
Sure, we’re all glad and rejoicing in the fact that Montreal’s Pit Bulls are safe and (for now) and will be allowed to stay in the city…despite the controversial bylaw (proposed by aggrandizing Mayor Denis Coderre) that would have banned new pits from entering the province (required those in shelters be murdered) and forced all current pit owners to muzzle their babies whenever in public. That is a win, and we’re celebrating too. For a second.
But while we’re happy to praise the judge’s ruling (especially considering he could have let it pass), yesterday’s ruling is not the end of the bylaw. It is merely a suspension that will last until more in-depth hearings are able to be held.
Don’t be fooled, we won a battle in Montreal…but not yet the war.
Sophie Gillard, the lawyer for the Montreal SPCA who brought on the case against the province, said (after hearing the decision announced yesterday) that “the fight is far from being over…” even if she was “pleased with this first victory.”
The judge’s decision is not reason to sit back thinking we’ve won…it only means that this war (between Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre and pit bull lovers everywhere) will go on longer, and that pits still have a chance. Yet, we still don’t know the fate of Montreal’s pit bulls…all we know is that we haven’t lost the war. Yesterday’s decision was a crucial win, but we can’t loose sight of the big picture.
While we are thankful Superior Court Judge Louis Gouin considered the Montreal SPCA’s arguments against the bylaw and asked for a few days to fully review the proposed law and the SPCA’s arguments against it, the outcome of his thinking is not a reason to forget this ever happened and raise our hands in victory.
We won a battle, but the war is far from over.
The ruling means that, for now, pit bulls will not be victimized and targeted…because the leadership wants more time to study and define the terms of the bylaw and make sure it’s as specific and clear as possible.
Judge Gouin did not suspend the ban on pit bulls because he believes that breed discrimination is an ineffective (and unfair) way to address the issue of dog attacks. He may actually think that pit bulls shouldn’t be allowed in Montreal, that they should be euthanized and muzzled…we can’t know. All we know is he took issue with the broad language and lack of specificity that could make this a very difficult law to enforce…and that required he sanction more time for reviewal before implementation.
What could still happen now that this has been suspended? Well, Montreal could decide to define the term “pit bull” more definitively, rewrite the bill and still pass a breed discrimination law against pit bulls…just one that isn’t vague and doesn’t leave loop holes.
That isn’t good, and it would make winning this battle irrelevant in the big picture.
We could still end up seeing Montreal head down the same path as some of Canada’s other breed discriminatory provinces.
To be clear, we’re grateful that Judge Gouin asked for proper time to consider (and that yesterday he suspended the bylaw indefinitely so more in-depth hearings can be held to address the pit bull issue). That is not something we can emphasize enough, particularly seeing as Ontario has had a law like this in effect for 11 years it seemed likely that this could go forward without resistance…following in Ontario’s footsteps. It wouldn’t have been hard to defend pushing this through with haste (something Mayor Coderre would have loved, as it would have given him the media attention he craves while offering his citizens a false sense of security after the fatal dog attack in June that left a Montreal woman dead)
We don’t want to rain on everybody’s parade, but this issue is just too important. We need to stay focused, and emphatic, if we truly want to ensure that Montreal does not pass a law discriminating against pit bulls (or any other breed of dog).
One citizen in Montreal, whose rescue dog may potentially be a pit bull mix (to the best of her knowledge) described how she felt persecuted and punished, and was living in fear of even letting her dog go out to pee in her own yard. Despite the fact that this dog never had a history of aggressive behavior, and was a giant love.
If they’re able to rephrase this law, and make it more digestible to the court leadership, then the woman we just mentioned will have her worst fears realized. Along with hundreds of other pit bulls owners (and those that will never get to adopt the dogs that will be murdered in the shelters).
That’s where we come in, and you…and everyone else who cares enough to continue to put pressure on leaders in Montreal demanding that breed discrimination (an easy excuse for why dogs attack that completely neglects to consider behavioral conditioning and other cutting edge understandings we have of dog training/psychology) cease for good.
The leadership that will be deciding if pit bulls are allowed to stay in Montreal, or whether they will be persecuted, needs to hear our voices…on social media, through sharing articles like this one, through writing pieces of your own.
We are advocating for more though, than just a victory in Montreal. We are calling for legislators to ask themselves the question, “is what we’re doing with breed discrimination working toward the purpose we originally created it for?” Our hope is that this issue in Montreal and all the international media coverage it’s getting will help spur law makers to address the bigger issue here (bigger than how a “pit bull” is definite in the bill, or how it will be enforced). That being, the evidence that breed discrimination actually doesn’t work.
Drawing from experiences of US states, and particularly (for Montreal) Canada’s other massive province Ontario, it’s questionable whether these laws are effective. The evidence seems to point to the fact that they are not.
Maybe if legislators took on this deeper question, and started looking to the ‘real feedback’ 11 years after initiating the pit bull ban in Ontario, they’d have way better reasons to oppose (question) the current Montreal ban.
Or…they can stay ignorant, and not pursue this question. They can fix the language, and get this bylaw passed in Montreal – only to look back years later and realize that while the attacks by pit bulls went down (unsurprisingly) the overall number of dog attacks went up. Just like in Ontario.
Come on guys…let’s stop getting fixated on the irrelevant details and take on the bigger question.
Does Breed Discrimination actually work in protecting citizens from dog attacks?