Montreal Dog Bylaw -Mtl Should Take Heed of Laval’s Animal Bylaw
Montreal Dog Bylaw – On February 8th the city of Laval’s Mayor Marc Demers announced a new animal control bylaw, which will be voted on during the municipal council meeting on March 14th and could come in effect as early April 1st 2017. Although there are similarities to Montreal Dog bylaw, such as the mandatory registering, vaccination, microchipping and sterilizing of cats and dogs – they are choosing not to introduce breed-specific legislation.
As a matter of fact, Laval’s bylaw puts the full responsibility on the owners to keep their dogs under control and does not assume every dog is dangerous. The new regulations will not focus on any specific breed and unless recommended by an expert – no dog is required to wear a muzzle.
“For owners that don’t follow their responsibilities, they can face charges of criminal negligence,” said Laval Mayor Marc Demers.
Sandra Desmeules, the city councilor in charge of the file said the city took a ‘humane and ethical’ approach when it came to changing the bylaw and they believe in ‘the responsibility of dog owners’.
The Laval bylaw states that owners will face larger fines and the city will also have more power when it comes to animals deemed dangerous by a professional, meaning it can force owners to send them for treatment, seize a dangerous dog or order it to be euthanized – in severe cases.
On the other hand, Montreal’s bylaw that was introduced last year targeted ‘pit bull-type’ dogs with ‘Breed-Specific Legislation’ (BSL), forcing owners to put muzzles on their animals and keep them on a short leash at all times when in public – regardless of whether or not the dog had any history of being dangerous.
It had dog owners outraged and in tears when they had to place muzzles on their beloved pets for the first time. Despite the protests and the expert advice from the SPCA and veterinarians, despite the majority of those polled who were against it and the cry from lawyers and legal experts, Mayor Coderre still maintained his ‘one muzzle for all’ approach. Montreal’s bylaw has been in and out of the courts, first being suspended and then being reinstated – and soon to be challenged again. The appeals court reinstated the bylaw in the interim while the Montreal SPCA, who has taken on the battle, continues to fight it in the courts.
The SPCA maintains that ‘there are proven ways to reduce the incidence and severity of dog bites and create safer and kinder communities for all. If the city of Montreal truly wanted to ensure public safety, it would not have forced a rushed adoption of controversial legislation which is unfair, unenforceable and most importantly, ineffective’ – but it fell upon deaf ears at city hall. Whereas Laval’s city council took the time to hear advice from specialists and decided against Breed Specific Legislation when drafting their bylaw. Mayor Marc Demers wants the ‘crime of criminal negligence to include language that specifically targets dog owners who do not control their animals’.
“We don’t believe that is a solution. And we don’t believe it’s the cause of the problem. We think that part of the solution is to make sure that animals are being properly treated, and the owners of animals are responsible for what their animals do,” he said.
Animals in general have inherent instincts and become defensive when they feel threatened – and can go on the attack. So do humans. Pit Bulls of today are descendants of the English Bull-Baiting dog, who were bred to be fighting dogs – powerful enough to attack and lock on to the faces and heads of large animals like bulls and bears in the ‘Pit’. When Bull-Baiting dogs were finally outlawed in 1835, people started cross breeding them with smaller terriers in order to create a faster and more agile dog. They were trained to fight from the start – a horrible practice that unfortunately still goes on today in some areas. Today’s ‘Pit’ Bulls, while genetically predisposed to those behaviors, are not automatically dangerous dogs. The development of their behavior very much depends on their environment and how they were treated and nurtured, which brings us back to the human factor.
With the exception of unhealthy dogs, the problem really seems to be people here, not the animals. The city of Laval seems to understand that clearly. Montreal should take heed – and a really close look at putting the onus on the owner, not the dog. What is your opinion?