MONTREAL – Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante’s new administration isn’t wasting any time moving ahead with its election promise to repeal the city’s controversial ban on pit bull-type dogs.
City councillor Craig Sauve says there are plans to consult with scientists, veterinarians, the SPCA and dog owners about a new bylaw.
Sauve promised it won’t take two years.
“It’s something that we’re going to do immediately,” he stressed in an interview Tuesday.
But the news comes a bit late for one Montrealer.
Jessica Moore, 26, moved to the suburbs with her two pit bull-type dogs in July because of a bylaw passed in 2016 by then-mayor Denis Coderre forbidding citizens from owning such canines.
“Once the pit bull ban came into effect, it started getting costly as well as stressful,” she said in an interview.
“It all started in December when we had to start paying $150 for each dog and (also) muzzling, and all the extra fees and everything.”
The additional costs included $50 to get each dog microchipped and $75 for a personal background check.
“I had to go the police to get fingerprinted and that made me feel like a criminal,” she added.
Sauve says Coderre’s bylaw was shown again and again to be based on bad science.
He says that while his party Projet Montreal was in opposition, it looked at studies and talked to the SPCA, animal rights activists and scientists.
“We found that breed-specific legislation — anti-pit-bull legislation — was just unscientific,” he said in an interview.
Sauve has promised to repeal Coderre’s bylaw and replace it with one that will be much more humane.
“Instead of banning one particular breed of dogs, we are going to focus on how dogs are brought up,” he said.
“We going to look at dog owners and whether they have been educated about their dogs and whether they’ve been getting any training.”
Sauve said it all comes down to helping them be better owners which will ultimately reduce the number of dog bites.
He added that the Plante administration wants to base any new Montreal bylaw on elements found in a Calgary model.
“It puts the onus very much on the education of dog owners and the upbringing of dogs,” he said.
“It (Calgary) has a good success rate and a safer environment — safe for humans and for dogs.”
Moore, a certified dog trainer, lived in the Montreal borough of Lachine for two years before moving to the nearby town of Beaconsfield to escape Coderre’s ban.
Moore said both her dogs are females aged two and four. They are mixed breeds, but in order to keep them she registered the animals as pit-bull mixes.
Regardless of what the new bylaw contains, she has no plans to move again.
But Moore said she is happy a new bylaw is in the works “that makes more sense.”
SPCA lawyer Sophie Gaillard is also glad to hear there will be swift action.
“I think it’s pretty clear that the majority of the population was not satisfied,” she said in an interview.
“We do know that this is a priority for Projet Montreal.”
Coderre’s bylaw is still in effect but Gaillard said she expects that to change “very, very quickly in terms of the provisions targeting pit bull-type dogs.”