What you need to know about Montreal's proposed dog bylaw

Montreal has unveiled its proposed new animal control bylaw to address the issue of dangerous dogs. If you own a dog and live in Montreal, here’s what you should know.

Everyone who owns a dog and lives in the city will be affected in some way

A proposed bylaw in Montreal will place strict rules on pit bull owners in the city's 19 boroughs. (Elysha Enos/CBC)

Montreal has unveiled its proposed new animal control bylaw to address the issue of dangerous dogs.

Not all boroughs in the City of Montreal had adopted the existing bylaw, passed in 2012. Some had adopted a modified version.

The new bylaw will apply to all 19 boroughs and is expected to come into effect Sept. 26.

If you own a dog and live in Montreal, here's what you should know:

Who is affected by this bylaw?

The bylaw affects everyone who owns a dog and lives in one of Montreal's 19 boroughs.

It targets pit bulls but also creates two categories of dogs of any breed:

  • At risk. 
  • Dangerous.

It also creates new rules for dog owners regarding licences and leash length.

What qualifies as a pit bull?

The city will define pit-bull type dogs as:

  • Staffordshire bull terriers.
  • American pit bull terriers.
  • American Staffordshire terriers.
  • Any mix with these breeds.
  • Any dog that presents characteristics of any of the above.

What is an at-risk dog?

  • A dog that tries to bite or attack.
  • A dog that has bitten or attacked.
  • A dog that exhibits behaviour that could compromise a person or another animal's safety.

What happens if a dog is deemed at risk?

The owner of a dog that bites someone has 72 hours to advise the city. The dog will have to be muzzled in public until further notice.

What is a dangerous dog?

  • A dog that kills a person or animal.
  • An at-risk dog deemed to be dangerous by a "competent authority."

What happens to dangerous dogs?

A euthanasia order will be issued for any dog deemed to be dangerous.

  • Proposed new rules for dangerous dogs leaves victim's family 'sad and very angry'
    'If you conform to the conditions, if you do what you have to and respect the procedure, you can keep your dog,' Mayor Denis Coderre said of the proposed new rules. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)
  • Are only 'dangerous dogs' susceptible to euthanasia orders?

    No. Dogs that have bitten someone may be forced to undergo an evaluation. If the evaluator deems the dog to be dangerous, they may issue a euthanasia order.

    Also, pit bulls protected by special permits but whose owners don't adhere to the conditions may also euthanized.

    Wait. What are these special permits?

    Those who already live in Montreal and own pit bulls will have to get a special permit in order to keep their dog.

    Here's how to get one:

    • Be 18 years old or older and make a request before Dec. 31, 2016.
    • Present a document proving you do not have a criminal record.
    • Prove you have spayed or neutered the dog and that it has its rabies shots.
    • Present proof you live in Montreal and that you owned the dog before the bylaw came into effect.

    Here's what you must do once you have one:

    • Keep your dog muzzled when it's outside your house.
    • Keep it on a leash that is a maximum of a 1.25 metres long, unless you're in a dog park or an enclosure surrounded by a fence at least two metres in height.
    • Make sure it's watched at all times by someone 18 or older.
    • Make sure it wears the medallion issued by the city to prove proving it's duly registered.

    If you don't have a permit, or if you have the permit but fail to follow the rules, a euthanasia order could be issued for your pit bull. 

    What else is there in this bylaw?

    The city is trying to encourage responsible pet ownership, including ensuring that pet owners register their cats and dogs.

    In that vein, the bylaw include some more general provisions:

    • Permits for cats and dogs are obligatory and are valid in all 19 boroughs.
    • Limiting the number of cats and dogs that can be owned per home: two dogs, four animals in total. (A special permit will be available for those who want to have three dogs.)
    • All dogs must be on leashes a maximum of 1.85 metres long in public.
    • Dogs that weigh 20 kilograms or more must wear halters or harnesses in public.
    • All dogs must be microchipped and spayed or neutered by Dec. 31, 2019.

    Are there exemptions?

    When it comes to spaying and neutering dogs, the bylaw allows exemptions for:

    • Dogs that can't be spayed or neutered (must provide written note from a veterinarian).
    • Dogs that have breeder permits.

    What about the punishment?

    The proposed bylaw is vague, but it says the minimum fines will be increased to $300 and the maximum will be increased to between $500 and $750 for a first offence, when the infraction is related to public safety (such as bites or leash length) or if the owner provides the city with false information.