Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dear Montreal: Breed bans don't work

Sinead the Boston terrier

When I see Sinead the Boston terrier looking up at me, all I can see is her cuteness. Her block head, her undershot jaw, her deep chest and her powerful little muzzle are a constant source of amazement to me. Every time I see her, I am reminded of the wonderful nature of her breed as a whole.

But if we were living in Montreal right now, I might look at her differently.


Because stupid misinformed legislators in Montreal just passed legislation that bans pit bulls--and here's another little wrinkle--as well as dogs that fit a pit bull type. So that means dogs like Sinead would fall under this legislation.

Boston terriers are, as I have pointed out in a similar piece awhile back, technically pit dogs. They were raised for fighting purposes, and they have a body type that conforms to a pit bull standard. They're big through the chest, powerful through the jaws and strong in the hind legs.

If I lived in Montreal right now, I would be required to:
  • Muzzle Sinead whenever she left the house
  • Pay a hefty fee, every single year, in order to keep her
  • Report any aggressive behavior on her part
  • Euthanize her if I am instructed to do so, based on her behavior
Look at this face.

Sinead the Boston terrier looking sad

And think about what quality of life I'd be able to give this dog if I lived in Montreal. And think about all of the dogs like Sinead who are waiting for homes in shelters in Montreal right now. All of those dogs will be euthanized on October 3, when this law goes into effect.

All of them.

The legislators claim that this law is vital for public safety, as pit bulls are inherently more dangerous than other dogs. I would guess (based on some of the asinine misinformed posts I've seen on social media) that at least some of these legislators were using a site run by a Seattle woman in order to make their decisions. (Forgive me for not linking to her site directly, but I simply cannot bear the thought of giving her any link juice.)

This woman has a personal vendetta against pit bulls, and her so-called "research" on bite prevalence and pit bull dangers has been widely debunked. Check out this post from the owner of a dog maimed by Michael Vick for proof. These numbers really do lie, and dogs are going to die because of it.

Sinead the Boston terrier giving the stink eye

There are plenty of reasons to give breed-specific legislation (BSL) the stink eye, as Sinead has done here. First and foremost, the bans simply do not work. Let me quote an ASPCA piece:

"For example, Prince George's County, MD, spends more than $250,000 annually to enforce its ban on pit bulls. In 2003, a study conducted by the county on the ban's effectiveness noted that 'public safety is not improved as a result of [the ban],' and that 'there is no transgression committed by owner or animal that is not covered by another, non-breed specific portion of the Animal Control Code (i.e., vicious animal, nuisance animal, leash laws).' "

In essence, these bills do little more than cost a great deal of money and dog life, without making anyone any safer. And yet, these bills keep cropping up, often with tragic consequences.  
So what can you do? If you're a Canadian resident, write to your legislators and tell them that you cannot and do not support BSL. Protest. Make some noise. Get your voice heard.

And the rest of us? We have work to do too. If we see posts on social about how BSL is somehow "sad but necessary," and your readers are pointing to the Seattle woman's website, use the links I've shared here to educate them. We have to stop the spread of these crap numbers. They do not tell the truth.

And then, spread the right information. This page from the AVMA is a wonderful and trusted resource for BSL. This organization does more than say these laws are wrong. This organization has done research, and there are plenty of links in here to share. If you don't feel comfortable sharing a whole link (or you don't think someone will read a whole page), pull out a tidbit. Here's one I like: "Based on behavioral assessments and owner surveys the breeds that were more aggressive towards people were small to medium-sized dogs such as the collies, toy breeds and spaniels." Nice, right?

The point I'm trying to make here is that we need to counteract misinformation with real information. We need to speak up for the pit bulls and the other dogs that fit the type. Because if we stay silent, these bans may come to our communities. These people may come for our dogs. And we cannot. We will not. Let them do that.

Let's get to work!


  1. That is awful when bans are put on breeds. Every dog is unique and only a few are dangerous.

  2. Great post. I hate BSL, it is so unfair to certain dogs.

  3. This is so sad. When will people understand it's the people, not the dogs, who are the problem? Here in NM, our German shepherd mix is considered a dangerous-breed dog. He couldn't be more sweet and kind. I feel heartbroken for these pups.