Montreal’s Pit Bull Ban Suspended: An Update for Pet Owners
Just last week, the City of Montreal passed a new bylaw, the Règlement sur le contrôle des animaux, intended to go into effect October 3, 2016. Within days, the SPCA launched a lawsuit, contesting the bylaw on the grounds that its use of the term “pit bull” and “pit bull-type dog” was vague and imprecise. The bylaw failed to indicate what documentation owners would be able to use to prove the breed of their dog, nor did it list which specific characteristics the dog must have to be considered a “pit bull type”. Moreover the organization took exception to the fact that the law provided no way for dog-owners to challenge a mis-classification of their dog and prevent a possible euthanization of their pet.
On the day the new rules were scheduled to come into force, Superior Court Justice Louis Gouin ordered a two-day suspension of the bylaw pending his decision. On Wednesday, the judge extended his suspension of Montreal’s ban on pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs until a final court ruling is delivered on the SPCA’s legal challenge of the bylaw.
New Rules for Pit BullsIn his ruling, Justice Gouin stated that the bylaw lacked clarity. In support of the continued suspension of the bylaw, the judge characterized the definition of pit bulls in the bylaw as “vague and ambiguous”. He pointed out that targeting dogs that are a mixed breed, or that “present several morphological characteristics of pit bulls” without more details could lead to quite the quandary for dog owners, making it difficult for many owners to know if the bylaw even applied to their pets.
Until the final court ruling, certain parts of the bylaw – those pertaining to pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs – that forbade the acquisition of new pit bulls, made it mandatory to obtain a special permit to possess a pit bull, and gave city officials the power euthanize any pit bull deemed dangerous, have been suspended. Muzzling of pit bull or pit bull-type dogs when out in public will also not be required.
The judge also questioned whether this bylaw conflicts with provincial laws on the well-being and security of animals. If such is the case, the city may well have stepped outside its jurisdiction.
In the end, there’s a lesson here for lawmakers. In announcing his decision, the judge said that he felt that certain parts of the bylaw were drawn-up in a hurry and that the city would need to go back to the drawing board if it wanted to find additional ways to protect citizens against dog bites and maulings. When it comes making law, sometimes haste is waste.
Pit Bull Rules Struck DownThe following rules contained in the bylaw will not apply as a result of the ruling by the Superior Court:
- Ban on pit bulls
- Requirement for special permit for owners of pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs
- Mandatory muzzling of pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs
- Requirement that owners of pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs submit to a criminal background check
Rules All Dog Owners Must FollowFrom now on, the following rules will continue to apply to all dogs. Dog owners must:
- Have their dog spayed/neutered and microchipped by December 31, 2019
- Obtain an annual permit
- Ensure their dog wears the tag delivered by city at all times
- Keep their dog on a leash of not more than 1.85 m when on public property
- Have their dog wear a halter or harness to which a leash is attached if weighing over 20kg
The full bylaw can be consulted here:
To find out how to obtain a permit and how much it will cost to register your pet, check out this link: