Veterinarians Push Back Against Montreal's Anti-Pit Bull Legislation

October 6, 2016
Jared Kaltwasser

As Montreal city officials move to pass aggressive anti-pit bull legislation, the province's veterinary organization is urging members to think carefully before complying with city euthanisia orders.

Veterinarians in Canada are banding together to urge caution as the City of Montreal attempts to enforce a controversial new bylaw designed to greatly reduce pit bull ownership in the city.

The rules would make it illegal for city residents to adopt a pit bull or similar breed. Residents who already own such dogs would be required to muzzle and microchip the pets, and also pay a $150 fee. Animal welfare groups are challenging the law, and this week a judge issued a temporary order halting the newregulations.

In a prepared statement, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said they consider the ruling the first step in what will likely be a longer legal battle.

“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,” said Sophie Gaillard, an SPCA attorney, according to a report from Global News.

In addition to the above, the law would also create new, more aggressive guidelines under which any dog labeled “dangerous” would be euthanized.

In response, Quebec’s Order of Veterinarians sent a letter to its members telling them they have the right to refuse to euthanize a pet if they do not believe there is a compelling animal welfare or public health reason to do so. The letter urged veterinarians to use their best judgment and make decisions based on individual cases and circumstances.

The Montreal legislation came months after a city resident was mauled by a pit bull and later died of her injuries. However, it is representative of a number of breed-specific legislative initiatives in the US and Canada in recent years.

For its part, the American Veterinary Medical Association opposes breed-specific laws.