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Montreal’s municipal election results proved that animal lovers DO have a voice – and that voice was heard loud and clear when Valérie Plante, who promised to repeal the controversial pit bull ban if elected, was voted into office.
Shortly after election results were announced on Sunday, the Montreal SPCA released a statement in support of the city’s newly elected official, saying that they were “pleased that a party whose agenda gives prominence to animal issues has been brought to power.
For the first time in Montreal history, animal welfare issues – and more specifically, the controversial pit bull ban that potentially endangered the lives of thousands of pit bulls – were a prominent subject of debate.
The current bylaw, enacted a year ago, put a ban on any new “pit bull type” dogs entering the city and placed heavy restrictions on those already living there. Under the law, any of the banned breeds – this includes American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and any dog mixed with or sharing certain physical characteristics with a banned breed – could be “grandfathered in,” but owners must have applied for a special permit or risk having their dog seized.
In addition to the ban, any pit bulls legally registered and living in the city are required to be muzzled while outdoors – even in their own backyards – and must be kept on a short leash while off their property.
Despite massive opposition to the ban and a temporary suspension following public outcry, the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the suspension, allowing the ban to be reinstated last December.
So, it was great news for citizens of Montreal when Valérie Plante’s party, Projet Montréal, promised to repeal the controversial year-old pit bull ban if elected.
Now that Plante, the city’s first female mayor, has been voted into office, she plans to take the lead of other Canadian cities, holding public consultations to determine what the new animal control bylaws will look like. But, not all of the current bylaw will be repealed. The current mandatory licensing of all dogs and cats, for example, will remain.
Projet Montréal’s platform plans to educate citizens on responsible dog ownership instead of banning dogs based on breed or appearance, referencing Calgary’s “Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw” as one worth emulating. Calgary opposes breed-specific legislation, instead placing responsibility for a dog’s behavior on the owner instead of the dog.
While it’s too soon to see exactly how Projet Montréal’s animal welfare plans and proposals will pan out, pit bull owners, animal advocates, and citizens are considering the election results a huge victory for all of Montreal’s pets.