The Quebec government wants to implement regulations for dangerous dogs, but how do they identify which dogs are dangerous? That was the debate that took place during the second day of Bill 128 public hearings at the National Assembly.
Quebec’s SPCAs say pit bulls are not more dangerous than other large dogs. The Association québécoise des SPA et SPCA (AQSS) and Montreal SPCA testified that veterinarians and dog behaviour experts oppose breed-specific legislation.
“There is nothing about a dog’s breed that makes them any more dangerous than another breed. What is a factor is size, so bigger dogs can do more damage,” said Alanna Devine, the directory of Animal Advocacy for the Montreal SPCA.
“From the Center for Disease Control to the Canadian Veterinary Association to the Obama administration, all oppose breed-specific legislation because it’s unenforceable and doesn’t work,” she added.
The AQSS said a ban would lead to the euthanasia of thousands of dogs. The association would rather see stricter enforcement of animal cruelty laws and the barring of people who’ve been charged with animal cruelty from owning dogs, citing that mistreatment can often lead to dogs becoming more aggressive.
On Tuesday night, the National Assembly heard testimony from a woman whose sister was mauled to death by a pit bull-type dog.
Lise Vadnais presented different studies that say the exact opposite of those of the SPCA.
“Forty-eight per cent of bites declared in Montreal between 2011 and 2015 were from pit bulls,” Vadnais cited, saying it was clear that pit bull breeds are the most dangerous type of dog.
“Mrs. Vadnais’ presentation was powerful,” said Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux after the hearing adjourned for the evening.
On Wednesday, the minister was faced with the dilemma of which facts to believe.
“How is it that there’s no common view on this issue?” he asked the AQSS.
Quebec’s SPCAs said the data is skewed because people misidentify dog breeds: “When you mix a bunch of breeds together, dogs that we see that are really the “everyday mutt,” kind of look like a pit bull,” Devine said.
The city of Montreal — which suspended its municipal pit bull ban in December — is echoing the SPCA’s recommendations — like mandatory sterilization and tighter controls for dog breeders that would shut down operations that intentionally breed dangerous dogs.
“Dogs can be bred by people with bad intentions, they can be bred by people who want to create dangerous dogs, they can be bred by people that don’t have any scientific background or any background with dogs and don’t know what they’re doing and they can create bad conditions for dogs that have psychological issues afterwards,” said city Coun. Craig Sauvé.
Both the City of Montreal and the SPCA are also calling for a provincewide dog bite registry to gather the data necessary to put an end to the fight about which statistics are correct. Each dog bite and the DNA test of that dog would be recorded.