Pit bull controversy reignites after boy is mauled by two dogs

RIGAUD, QUE. — Jennifer Picaizen is extra careful when she takes her three-year-old son out for a walk.

She said the reason is the number of pit bull-type dogs in her neighbourhood.

According to the Montreal SPCA, pit bulls are not a breed of dog and should properly be called “pit bull-type” or “pit bull-like” dogs, not just “pit bulls.”

This refers to their physical attributes – a large head and a boxy body.

“I generally keep pretty high guard when I’m around those types of dogs,” Picaizen said.

Picaizen said her son has already been attacked by one.

“He was maybe 10 feet away and I guess the pit bull might have thought he was going close to him,” she told Global News.

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This isn’t the only incident in this area.

On Tuesday, a 13-year-old boy was playing tennis during an after-school gym class when the ball rolled onto the street. He ran after it and two pit bull dogs jumped on him.

The boy suffered injuries to his head and face. He’s undergone one surgery already, but it’s expected he’ll need more in the coming months.

He was able to go home on Thursday.

Police are investigating to find out how the pit bulls were out on the street without their owner. The dogs were not on leashes and the owner was no where to be seen.

“Where did they come from? Were they already outside? This is what we’re trying to find out,” said Ingrid Asselin, with the Sûreté du Québec.

But the SPCA points out there’s no evidence linking a specific breed – or the way a dog looks – to violent behaviour.

“Pit bull is not a type of dog, it’s a dog that has a specific look,” explained SPCA Montreal spokesperson Alanna Devine.

“There’s zero scientific evidence to show that these dogs are any more dangerous than any other type of dog.”

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In fact, any dog can have an aggressive trait. It all depends on how they’re raised, she explained.

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“It’s dogs that are subjected to neglect or generally are living in conditions where they’re not socialized,” said Devine.

“We see a lot of dogs who are living tethered or not with people but rather being used as a guard dog or who are living outside.”

In spite of her son’s experience, Picaizen agreed.

“I find in general all animals are animals and you have to be cautious around them, whether it’s a bird or a pit bull,” she said.

The dogs have both been taken into custody. It’s possible they will be euthanized.

The dog owner may also face criminal charges, including negligence.

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