CHÂTEAUGUAY – A small, but rowdy crowd gathered outside of Châteauguay’s council meeting to remind Mayor Nathalie Simon that they haven’t forgotten about her promise to retract the city’s ban on pit bulls.
Protest organizer Susan Mackasey, who runs a cat shelter called PetitPawz, said she wants the mayor to put the issue on the front burner again.
“I would hope that the mayor and her council will agree to really put this as a priority and meet with the experts,” Mackasey said.
“[We want] a promise. Another promise. We had one last year, but I am hoping that this one will be a real promise.”
The mayor asked the police to stop enforcing a pit bull ban that has been in place for 30 years, but residents want to know where she stand with a concrete law.
“There was a moratorium in place, these things did not come through. They were promises,” Mackasey said.
“I do think that the public perception, the fear instilled in the public, the hysteria, has made them back down.”
Mackasey collected more than 1,000 signatures last summer to recant the ban.
For a while, she said it seemed like progress was being made.
Mackasey took part in the negations but they later stalled.
“There was a report of a pit bull bite and the mayor’s office said, ‘well, you know what, we’re gonna wait until it dies down a bit,'” said Mackasey.
“All of a sudden more reports of dog bites [came], not just pit bulls, and things started to change.”
Simon acknowledged that the process has slowed down.
“We’ve been invited by the Union des Municipalités du Québec to be part of that technical table to talk about bylaws,” Simon said.
The mayor added that Châteauguay is not aiming to enforce breed-specific legislation.
“We think that we shall [put the onus on] the owners,” she said.
The debate in Châteauguay has attracted the attention of prominent animal rights activist Anne France Goldwater.
“I really want to put an end to this dark part of human nature that always seeks to demonize the other,” Goldwater said.
Prior to the protest, organizer Valerie Samson said she was contacted by the mayor and police inspector, Yannick Dufour.
“I felt like she was pushing herself on me a little bit more, I think she should have stopped it at ‘we’ll see you on Monday.’ Hopefully everything goes as smooth as can be,” Samson said.
“Then, I got contacted by the police force as well trying to dissuade me from having this rally.”
Simon said she reached out to Samson over safety concerns, and police explained it is routine to speak to protest organizers.
“I didn’t want her to be in trouble with other groups that are pro and anti,” Simon said.
“Everybody has good will when they come to such [a] demonstration.”
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