Thursday, May 26, 2011

Montreal boroughs are considering a breed ban

The Montreal boroughs of Riviere-des-Prairies/Pointe-aux-Trembles and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve are considering a breed ban. 

I wrote a letter to the Mayor, Real Menard, of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. 

       Dear Mayor Menard

First, I would like to say I want to give you the benefit of the doubt that you have been exposed to some facts. There is plenty of information debunking the age old myths surrounding support for breed bans. I am not going to waste my time or yours going into a long winded tirade. The facts support that;1. "pitbulls" do not exist. It is a slang term for a generic shape of dog. 2. The purebreds American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier are extremely rare in Canada. There are CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) breed registry numbers to support this. There are on average only 4 litters of American Staffordshire Terriers across Canada yearly. In Ontario there are less than 1000 dogs (purebreds) combining the American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terriers together. 3. Breed bans do nothing to prevent dog attacks. This has been proven countless times which has resulted in repealing of breed bans in many countries, cities and jurisdictions globally.Propaganda is the only support for breed bans. Dangerous dogs exist in all breeds and cross breeds of dogs. It is not a breed or dog issue it is an owner issue.Calgary has had much success for 20+ years with its Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw. It targets irresponsible owners, has a 95% plus compliance of dog licensing and state of the art facility that hosts the Pound, Humane Society and Animal Control working simultaneously to protect the community. They reward responsible pet ownership and deal with those who are not. The program is revenue neutral and the best part is the citizens of Calgary are onside and support the bylaw because it allows pet owners and non pet owners to live peacefully. We have been living a nightmare of the dog ban here in Ontario for the past 6 yrs. Family pets have been taken from good homes based on how their dog looks. Innocent people have been stripped of their family pet and life savings trying to save their dog's life. The heartache is vast and the results are grim. People continue to be bitten and sometimes severely injured by all breeds of dogs. Breed bans have nothing to do with behavior and everything to do with how a dog looks. Breed bans are a draconian, barbaric legislation that target innocent people and innocent dogs. Real criminals don't care one bit about whether they are breaking the law much less what breed they own. Are there dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners? Yes of course there are and there are ways to deal with owners who pose a threat to the community. Trying to define a cross bred dog (which is impossible) or target 3 very rare breeds does nothing to deal with that threat. 95% of all dog bites occur at home with the family pet or an adjacent property. Most bites happen because of lack of training and socialization of the family pet. Encouraging people to train/contain and socialize their dog goes a long way. Providing an environment that encourages people to be responsible works wonders.It is possible you just haven't been exposed to the facts but somehow I doubt that. The facts are as easy to find as the myths. Do the right thing. Using common sense and fair and equal treatment under the law gets you many more brownie points as a politician than following the propaganda. Do the right thing for Yarmouth and invite Bill Bruce from Calgary to speak to your council. He speaks globally about the Calgary model and how to implement it in your city. Breed bans are purely based on how your dog looks not the behavior. This is the fatal flaw behind such legislation. Thanks for your consideration,

Here is the response from Mayor Menard;

Montréal, le 25 mai 2011 

Madame, Monsieur, 
J’ai bien reçu votre courriel et je vous remercie de prendre le temps de m’écrire afin de me partager vos commentaires concernant les chiens mordants. 
Nous partageons votre souci d’agir afin de protéger les citoyens, en particulier nos enfants, des morsures que peuvent causer des chiens laissés sans surveillance ou ayant un comportement violent et agressif. Trop souvent, nous voyons dans nos journaux un enfant ou un adulte qui a été mordu, parfois défiguré, par la morsure d’un chien. Cette situation est intolérable. Aujourd’hui ce sont les pitbulls qui sont visé, hier c’étaient les boxers. Il y a de plus des maîtres qui élèvent expressément leurs animaux à devenir violents et agressifs. 
Selon le groupe Citoyens Responsables de leurs Animaux de Compagnie (CRAC), 84% des chiens mordants sont maltraités, négligés ou victimes de cruauté; 82% ne sont pas en laisse, 78% ne sont pas des animaux de compagnie et 2,6 fois plus de chiens non-stérilisés sont susceptibles de mordre. L’Ombudsman de Montréal a d’ailleurs effectué une enquête approfondie à ce sujet en 2008 et conclu que les chiens de toutes races sont susceptibles d’avoir un comportement répréhensible. 
Selon ces enquêtes, je ne suis pas convaincu que notre arrondissement doive interdire une race précise de chiens puisque certains s’empresseront alors de dresser à l’attaque d’autres races de chiens. 
Le Règlement de l’arrondissement qui s’applique dans ce cas est le C-10 sur le contrôle des chiens et autres animaux que vous trouverez sur le site internet de l’arrondissement. Il n'y a pas de dispositions particulières visant les pitbulls. Lorsqu'un chien est considéré comme une nuisance, il y a des recours possibles qui peuvent aller jusqu'à retirer l'animal s'il représente un danger public. Le Règlement spécifie ce qu'on entend par "nuisance" et qui peut intervenir en pareille situation. Les chiens doivent avoir une licence; donc s'il y a un problème avec un animal malfaisant, c’est le propriétaire qui est avisé. Les mêmes droits s'appliquent pour tout le monde. 
Vous pouvez compter sur moi et mes collègues afin de suivre la situation de près. Si notre règlement nécessite des modifications, nous prendrons nos responsabilités pour protéger nos citoyens. 
Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, mes salutations distinguées. 

Réal Ménard
Maire Mercier—Hochelaga-Maisonneuve 

I had a friend translate since I am not fluent in French anymore. 


I received your email and I thank you for taking the time to write to me to share your comments about dogs biting.
Too often we see in our newspapers a child or adult who has been bitten, sometimes disfigured by a dog bite. This situation is intolerable. Today it's the pit bulls that are the concern, yesterday was the boxers. There are many masters who raise their animals specifically to become violent and aggressive. We share your desire to act to protect citizens, especially our children, against bites caused by dogs left unattended or with violent, aggressive behavior. 
(CARC), 84% of dogs who bite are abused, neglected or victims of cruelty, 82% are not leashed, 78% are not pets and non-neutered dogs are 2.6 times more likely to bite. The Montreal Ombudsman moreover carried out a thorough investigation on this subject in 2008 and found dogs of all breeds are likely to have bad behavior. Not just one group. 
According to these investigations, I am not convinced that our district should ban a particular breed of dogs since then others will rush to attack other dog breeds.
The Rules of the district that applies in this case is C-10 Control of dogs and other animals found on the website of the Borough. There are no special provisions for pit bulls. When a dog is considered a nuisance, there are remedies that can go up to remove the animal if it represents a public danger. The regulations specify what is meant by "nuisance" and can intervene in such situations. Dogs must be licensed, so if there is a problem with a mischievous animal, the owner is notified. The same rights apply to everyone.
You can count on me and my colleagues to monitor the situation closely. If our policy requires changes, we take our responsibility to protect our citizens.

Madam, Yours faithfully.

Here's hoping the Boroughs take the high road and do the right thing. Fair and equal treatment under the law is the right way. I think Mayor Menard for his response.

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