Montreal

Brossard to ban pit bulls following string of attacks

The City of Brossard on Montreal's South Shore has announced it will ban pit bulls and other similar breeds of dogs. It presented the motion at a city council meeting Tuesday evening.

'Put humans before dogs,' says father of girl attacked in a park by a pit bull last year

Pit bull advocates have countered a growing call for a ban on the breed by arguing owners should be punished instead. (istock)

The City of Brossard on Montreal's South Shore is moving to ban pit bulls and other similar breeds of dogs. It presented the motion at a city council meeting Tuesday evening.

The motion will be voted on next month.

The ban would be phased in, and current owners of pit bulls would be allowed to keep them, subject to strict conditions.

During a yet-to-be-determined transition period, owners of banned breeds would have to have $250,000 liability insurance coverage, prove that their dog has passed an obedience course and have their dogs fitted with a microchip.

Those dogs will have to be muzzled in public at all times and will not be permitted in city dog parks.

The list of banned breeds includes:

  • Bull terrier.
  • Staffordshire bull terrier.
  • American pit bull terrier.
  • American Staffordshire terrier.
  • Any mix with these breeds.

Brossard Mayor Paul Leduc says the city created a working group to suggest changes after eight-year-old Vanessa Biron was bitten in the face by a pit bull last summer.

Leduc said he hopes these rules will serve as a model for other municipalities.

Attack on girl spurred action

The city has been debating whether to implement breed-specific bans on dogs since Biron was seriously injured after she was mauled in a Brossard park last September.

Bernard Biron, Vanessa's father,  thanked the city for its reaction to the attack on his daughter, which has left her paralyzed on the left side of her face.

Bernard Biron's young daughter was mauled by a pit bull in a Brossard park last September. He wants Quebec to follow Brossard's lead and ban pit bulls. (CBC)

He called on Premier Philippe Couillard and Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux to follow Brossard's lead and ban the dogs right across the province, as Ontario has done.

"I hope you will also put humans before dogs, because I think kids have the right to play in a playground without being afraid that a wild beast will jump on their throats, not just in Brossard but across Quebec," he said.

Growing calls for breed-specific legislation

In the wake of the mauling death of Christiane Vadnais last week, the province announced the creation of a working group to review all regulations currently in place targeting pit bulls and isn't ruling out a ban.

Vadnais, 55, was attacked by a neighbour's pit bull in her Pointe-aux-Trembles backyard. 

Biron commended the decision but said he thought it should have come sooner, calling Vadnais's death "unacceptable."

"I think announcing the working group was the right approach. It's a shame it took someone's death to get there, but I think we're going in the right direction," he said.

​The Montreal SPCA and others against breed-specific bans say the root cause of violent dog attacks is the animal's owner.

Opponents to bans that target breeds and not dangerous dogs say the bans doesn't work and promote discrimination against dogs.

Opposite directions?

Brossard's proposed ban comes weeks after five neighbouring towns lifted their pit bull bans.

Starting in August, Saint-Constant, Sainte-Catherine, Candiac, Saint-Philippe and Saint-Mathieu will allow pit bulls and instead go after dangerous dogs, defined as a dog that:

  • Bites, tries to bite, attacks or tries to attack a person or another animal.
  • While off its owner's property, manifests aggression towards a person or an animal by snarling, growling, showing its teeth, barking ferociously or acting in any way that suggests the dog may bite or attack.

When asked about the discrepancy between the direction Brossard is going in versus its neighbouring municipalities, Leduc defended his city's proposal.

"I think the measures we're taking are very concrete, and we're confident in what we're doing," he said.

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