The City of Châteauguay has taken steps toward reversing its decades-old pit bull ban. If a proposed bylaw passes next month, the city will instead bring in regulations for all dangerous animals without targeting a specific breed.
“We’re trying to focus more on the dangerosity of every animal. It can be cats, it can be dogs, it can be any exotic animal,” Châteauguay Mayor Nathalie Simon told Global News.
Since the 1980s, Châteauguay has had a very strict anti-pit bull law. Police officers were even permitted to shoot them on sight, though the mayor says that never happened. Now, she says their breed-specific legislation was a failure.
“We saw the bylaw we had didn’t work. We couldn’t apply it, it was hard, and it brings all kinds of misunderstanding,” she said.
Under the new law, if someone complains that an animal has been violent or aggressive, the animal in question will be evaluated by a veterinarian. There are three different levels of danger. The higher the danger, the stricter the sanction against the owner.
If a dog attacks someone, the owner will be fined up to $2,000. If the animal is deemed very dangerous by the city’s evaluator, it can be seized and euthanized. That doesn’t bother pro-pit bull activist Hugh Patrick McGurnaghan, who runs the Pitbull Association Châteauguay.
“We are very for that. Any dog that is dangerous for society needs to be dealt with properly,” he told Global News.
Dogs won’t be required to wear muzzles outdoors, but will need to be on a leash at all times and be registered with the city.
Activists have rejoiced about the new bylaw, but their celebrations could soon be quelled by the new provincial legislation working its way through the National Assembly.
Quebec tabled Bill 128 in the spring. If passed, it would ban pit bulls and other dog breeds they have deemed dangerous province-wide.
“Quebec is evaluating either they will ban the pit bull or not. So every municipality will follow the law. We can’t go against the law,” said Simon.
McGurnaghan hopes Châteauguay’s new way of thinking puts pressure on Quebec.
“We’re really hoping that this decision that we’ve pushed for in Châteauguay will change the trajectory that the province is headed down with animal control laws,” he said.
Mayor Simon is confident the bylaw will pass at the next Châteauguay council meeting, Aug. 21.