Another city in the world displays ignorance regarding dogs’ aggression based on the way they look. Well, another city’s politicians because the people are outraged by the decision and are willing to fight. And I hope they can win this fight.
Quebec’s city mayor Régis Labeaume announced last week that all pit bull type dogs must be gone by January 1, 2017 or else. This includes Bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers or any mix with these breeds. Whoever is caught with any of these dogs will receive a fine of up to $1,000 for the first offence.
READ MORE: THE DOG THAT CONQUERED THE INTERNET WITH HIS SMILE IS AT RISK OF BEING RETURNED BECAUSE OF “BREED DISCRIMINATION”
The ban has sparked so much anger that now the police showed concerned for the mayor’s safety. His Facebook post gained more than 17,500 comments, most of which are against the ban.
Quebec is following Ontario’s ban to pit bulls which has been active since 2005, although the statistics show it actually doesn’t work. There have been less bites from those breeds but the dog bites in general are on the rise since 2012, so the pit bulls were not really the problem. However, Ontario’s ban is not as radical as Quebec’s. In Ontario all pit bulls have to be muzzled or leashed in public and all them should be sterilized, but at least people got to keep their dogs.
Another city that at the moment is also considering the ban is Montreal, but the SPCA already announced they are willing to fight it:
“If we are trying to find a way to reduce the number of animal bites in a community by starting with how the animal may look, we are starting down the wrong path (…) It is a rabbit hole that doesn’t lead to effective results. Instead, let’s focus on how animals become aggressive in the first place and take it from there”
Dog aggression is definitely a serious threat to the public’s safety and must be dealt with, however banning a breed is NOT the solution. It removes responsibility for dog biting incidents to the owner, it has proven to be inefficient in making communities safer and it supports the false idea that dogs being dangerous is related to the way they look and that IS discrimination.
Breed specific legislations focus on the looks and not on the behavior and it’s not the looks that cause harm but the behavior. If dogs become agressive it is in a huge part because of irresponsible owners that have no idea how to raise their dogs. Not only the ones that train them to fight, but also the ones that chain them, that don’t give them enough exercise, that keep them outside all the time, that don’t show them love and that don’t make an effort in making them a part of their family.
So how come are the dogs being punished for the owners’ actions?
A great example of a city whose system actually reduced the number of dog bites is Calgary. They changed their policy of banning the breed, which they had in the 80’s to one which focuses on “improving responsible pet ownership through education, licensing and the tougher enforcement of punishments (…) a system that created a generational change in attitudes was more effective at reducing dog bites”.
This system was created by a former Canadian ranger and director of animal bylaw services in Calgary, Bill Bruce. He is credited for reducing dramatically dog bite incidents since the mid-80’s. He understood that the most effective changes take time but when they happen, they are more solid. Sadly, most politicians don’t get this.
So, what are the choices for the people in Quebec? For a start, you can write a letter to mayor Régis Labeaume expressing why the ban is not the solution. It actually doesn’t matter if your are a pit bull owner or not, once pit bulls are gone and the dog bite incidents continue, they will blame another breed so this concerns every dog owner out there.
You can also attend the worldwide protest against breed-specific legislation, which will take place on July 16. Check it out here.
Let’s stop this madness!