Montreal ditches breed ban in favour of dangerous-dog restrictions

The announcement comes months after the Plante administration overturned bylaws put in place by former mayor Denis Coderre.

Plante's opposition to previous administration's pit-bull ban was a centrepiece of her campaign

The announcement comes months after the Plante administration overturned bylaws put in place by former mayor Denis Coderre's administration. (Elysha Enos/CBC)

Montreal's new animal control bylaws, announced today by the Plante administration, will spell the end of the city's calèche industry and force dog owners to alert officials if their pet bites another person. 

The proposed regulations have been in the works since Mayor Valérie Plante won last fall's mayoral election. She campaigned on a promise to reform the previous administration's controversial anti-pit bull measures. 

Under the plans revealed today, a dog that bites or attacks a human in Montreal would be deemed "at risk," and would need to undergo an evaluation by experts trained by the city.

A dog owner would need to alert the authorities of an incident within 72 hours, keep their pet muzzled outdoors, and bring it in for an evaluation to be carried out as soon as possible by specialized animal inspectors.

The dog owners, who must also inform the authorities where the dog resides, would incur the costs of the evaluation.

The measures, which were approved by the city's executive committee this week, will be brought to a vote in city council on Monday. They are expected to come into effect in August.

Determining risk level

After an evaluation, a dog can be deemed normal, potentially dangerous, or dangerous.

Each category comes with its own conditions.

If a dog is deemed normal, it may still need to be:

  • Micro-chipped.
  • Sterilized.
  • Subjected to other conditions, as deemed appropriate by the authorities.

If a dog is deemed potentially dangerous, it will need to be:

  • Vaccinated.
  • Micro-chipped.
  • Sterilized.
  • Kept at least two metres from children under 16, unless they are the kids of the dog's owner.
  • Owned by someone over 18, without any criminal charges related to violence or animal cruelty.

If a dog is deemed dangerous, or if it causes someone's death, it must be:

  • Euthanized within 48 hours.

A dog that is deemed "potentially dangerous" can be reclassified as "normal" after five years if it passes a new evaluation, the city said.

​"The purpose of this bylaw is to ensure the safety of the public while making Montreal an animal-friendly city," Mayor Valérie Plante said on Twitter Wednesday evening.

Educating dog owners critical, councillor says

Educating dog owners and helping them be more responsible is a key plank of the city's policy, said Coun. Sterling Downey, who announced the new measures at a press conference Thursday.

To do it, the city plans to hire new animal inspectors and experts, who will be sent to dog parks and other areas to offer free training and safety tips, Downey said. 

The administration didn't specify what the public awareness campaign, or the implementation of the new regulations, would cost, however.

"The idea is not to scare people into being responsible," Downey told reporters.

"The idea is to accompany them, and provide resources … to help them become aware of the responsibilities of owning an animal."

Phasing out calèches by 2020

Under the proposed bylaws, the city's controversial calèche horse industry would also be banned as of Dec. 31, 2019.

Plante's opposition to the previous administration's animal control policies, especially its controversial ban on pit-bull type dogs, was a centrepiece of her mayoral campaign last fall. 

Within her first month in office, she overturned the bylaws put in place by former mayor Denis Coderre.

During the campaign, Plante's team promised legislation that would promote "responsible dog ownership," as opposed to a ban on certain breeds.

With files from CBC's Sarah Leavitt and Radio-Canada