This past week Montreal passed a breed specific law (BSL) concerning pit bulls. Thankfully, the judge suspended the bill just two days after in went into effect. This law consisted of the ban and treatment of any dog falling into the category of pit bull. There are many ethical and legal dilemmas surrounding this legislation.
This ban uses the umbrella of the term pit bull. What many people do not understand is that “pit bull” is not a breed of dog, but a way to categorize a group of dogs. Purebred dogs that fall into this category include American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bulldog. Any mutt with noticeable “pit” features are also lumped in with pit bulls. Because of the vague way pit bulls is defined in the bill, it has become a legal issue.
The legalities of the BSL are constraining and are tied with multiple ethical dilemmas. This BSL requires owners to register their dogs, pay a registration fee of $150, muzzle the dogs in public, keep them on a short leash, and have them sterilized. It also banned the purchase of them and requires owners to complete a background check. Owners can be fined at least $300 and have their dog taken away for not complying.
Because of this BSL, many animal shelters were going to be forced to euthanize hundreds of happy, healthy dogs that were waiting for their forever home. This broke millions of hearts, including mine. No innocent animal should be killed. This suspension has saved many lives and the SPCA hopes to halt the BSL permanently.
This law was drafted because a woman was supposedly attacked by a pit bull. The dog that mauled her was a “boxer mix with a history of aggression,” yet because of their reputation pit bulls were once again to blame. Pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive and trained to fight. They are also some of the most abused dogs. The abuse causes aggression, which adds to the stereotype. They have been known to attack, but so are Boxers, Mastiffs, and Rottweilers. The dog that attacked was a boxer descendent, yet the dogs that were banned were pit bulls. Shockingly enough, the most aggressive dog is the Dachshund, not the any of the dogs under the blanket of “pit bull.”
This BSL in Montreal violates privacy and animal rights. This isn’t a scenario of some extremists picketing McDonalds’s because they serve beef and chicken. These are potential pets and life-mates that are being targeted. These are members of the family. A few bad apples are ruining the whole bushel.
The best way to discourage laws like the BSL in Montreal is through education. It is important to educate the public on pit bulls: their history, their abuse, and yes even some of their aggressive tendencies. Being aware that pit bulls are animals, and even the most well trained animal can act out. Education can prevent attacks by preventing unnecessary risks. By properly educating the public and by making sure pit bulls are properly trained, we can prevent the mistreatment of these precious dogs.