*I’ve shared my home with a pit bull for seven years. If she’s at all indicative of the breed, they are the most misunderstood, maligned, lovable, loyal dogs in the world. Because of that loyalty, she will do whatever I tell her to do — even drop squirrels and feral cats from her jaws. In the hands of the wrong owner, she could have easily been trained to fight.
That said, a wholesale ban on pit bulls — which is exactly what had been proposed in Montreal, Canada — seems like a canine witch hunt to me.
Luckily, a judge in Quebec agrees. Shortly after the ban was instituted, it was indefinitely suspended pending a legal battle with the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They’re challenging the city in court over the draconian law, arguing that it defines pit bull breeds far too broadly; often, a variety of breeds are mistaken for pit bulls.
“The fight is far from being over, but we are very pleased with this first victory,” Sophie Gaillard, a lawyer for the Montreal SPCA, said in a press release. “We are particularly delighted to be able to continue finding adoptive homes for all of our healthy and behaviorally sound dogs, regardless of their physical appearance.”
The decision is also great news for owners of pit bull-type dogs, as they would have been ordered to pass criminal background checks and have their dogs licensed, spayed or neutered, and microchipped. Even worse, dogs currently in city shelters would have been deemed unadaptable under the ban, and therefore euthanized.
Supporters of the ban — including Montreal mayor Denis Coderre — insist that pit bulls are dangerous and cite studies detailing the frequency and severity of pit bull attacks.
“A city has the right to decide on its territory how to best protect its citizens,” Mayor Coderre told reporters.
The push for a ban was the aftermath of a fatal dog mauling last June by a dog that was identified as a pit, and the subsequent pressure from the victim’s family to clamp down on the breed. In the attack, a 55-year-old woman was mauled to death in her backyard by a neighbor’s dog.
Farid Benzenati witnessed the mauling, and said he first thought the dog was playing with a toy.
“As I got closer I saw, I distinguished a body, the body of a woman, because I saw her hair. It was horrible,” he said.
Police had to shoot and kill the dog before paramedics could approach the woman’s body. She was declared dead at the scene.
But get this: eyewitnesses say the dog who killed the woman was a boxer, not a pit bull. It was registered with local authorities as a bulldog. Montreal police are still waiting for the results of a DNA test to determine its breed.
All of the legal wrangling could take months, so for now, the pit bulls in Montreal are safe. Let’s hope that justice prevails. If anyone should be held accountable for the behavior of dogs of ALL breeds, it’s their owners.
What do YOU think? Are pit bulls inherently dangerous, or are they the victims of irresponsible owners and in need of a good publicist? Let us know what you think in the comments.