In Montreal, Canada, law officials have passed a bill that bans all pit bulls and any dog that looks like a Pit Bull. What caused this law to be passed? A dog registered as a boxer but said by police to be a Pit Bull had attacked and killed a woman four months earlier. The law is called BSL law, meaning “breed-specific legislation”. The law is in effect for the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and any dog with any percentage of those breeds in its DNA. It states that any dog in a shelter or picked up off the street with short hair, medium sized, and a big head is considered a Pit Bull and should be euthanized.
If citizens already own one of these dogs, they have to adhere to strict rules. These rules include the owner getting a permit; the dog having to be sterilized, vaccinated, microchipped, and muzzled in public; and a fee paid by the owner. The owners also have to make sure the enclosure at home is a six foot chain link kennel with concrete floors, a lid, and a “vicious dog” sign in front of the kennel. If the owners cannot obey these rules, the dog will be seized and euthanized.
Out of two thousand dogs a local SPCA in Montreal receives every day, it is estimated that over seven hundred will have to be put down because of this law. Certain parts of states in the U.S. have laws against pit bulls including Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. Alanna Devine, the director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA states, “We are talking a very large number of completely unnecessary deaths of adoptable dogs in a very short time.”
On Oct. 3, 2016 the Montreal SPCA challenged the ruling against the pit bulls. Their key points were that the requirements were not specific enough, and therefore dogs who were not pit bulls would be euthanized. Alanna Devine, who is the head activist for the SPCA, thinks they have a shot at getting this ruling overturned. She believes that the laws that target pit bulls are discriminatory and violate a provincial law that designates animals as sentient beings. An online petition to overturn the law has received more than 60,000 signatures. The SPCA has many supporters hoping they get the law overturned.
The city has not started euthanizing dogs quite yet. They have shipped many to cities away from Montreal. The city will not euthanize dogs in shelters until after the SPCA hearing. Whatever dogs owned by citizens not registered by the end of the year will then begin being seized and euthanized.