Why Montreal should think twice before banning pit bulls
The city’s recent decision to ban pit bulls has created quite a stir amongst Montrealers. The newly proposed bylaw is expected to come into effect at the end of next month, according to CBC. This is a serious subject, considering a woman near Drummondville was mauled to death in her own backyard back in June. This event sparked a frenzied debate in Quebec society.
This is also not the first time a pit bull has been the aggressor in an attack. However, a complete ban on a specific type of dog should make us ask ourselves if this is really the correct path to take.
I admit that I have never owned a pit bull, nor have I had many encounters with them. After spending time researching the topic and speaking with dog owners, I have begun to realize the issue is even more complex than I had originally assumed.
On one side, some organizations, like dogsbite.org, present compelling statistics that classify pit bulls as a more dangerous breed, stating that the breed accounts for the highest number of attacks. Proponents of the ban contend that this breed poses a high risk, and should be illegal to own just like any other wild animal.
A pit bull is essentially the product of a bulldog and a terrier, and they were bred in the nineteenth century as a fighting dog, according to the United Kennel Club. Advocates—the most prominent group being banpitbulls.org—stress the pit bull’s dark history, its aggressive capability and insist it is unfit for society.
On the other hand, banning an entire breed of dogs appears to be rather draconian and quite irrational. A common argument heard against the ban is that it is the owners who are to blame for their dog’s being violent. The majority of pit bulls are non-violent, and they are not the only breed that has ever attacked someone.
Since Ontario banned pit bulls a little over ten years ago, there has been no evidence that dog attacks have decreased in the province, according to reports from both the Toronto Sun and Global News. Meanwhile, municipalities in Alberta (mainly around the city of Calgary) have taken a more mature approach with respect to responsible pet ownership. If a dog is considered to be ‘vicious,’ more regulations are put into place, such as additional licensing fees and increased liability insurance.
I think Montreal should first implement measures similar to those in Calgary, instead of making a quick, reactionary and emotional decision to outlaw an entire breed of animal. I would even go a step further and propose compulsory training courses for certain breeds or dogs that have a history of violence. Education, training, and socialization should be the focus with regards to this issue.