Montreal

City ombudsman offers to evaluate files of pit bull owners who received letter from city

The city ombudsman wants pit bull owners to know they can reach out if they think they have been unfairly sent a letter saying they wouldn't be allowed to keep their dog.

Hundreds of pit bull owners received letters saying they had four weeks to rehome their dog

Ombudsman Johanne Savard said that if pit bull owners doubt whether they deserved to get the letter her office will give them a fair evaluation. (Sean Henry/CBC)

The city ombudsman wants pit bull owners to know they can reach out  if they think they have been unfairly sent a letter saying they wouldn't be allowed to keep their dog.

The office put out a special notice on social media Thursday after it was inundated with calls from pit bull owners who had received a letter saying their application for the special permit to keep their dog was incomplete.

Ombudsman Johanne Savard said that if people feel they were treated unjustly, her office will examine their file.

"If there are problems on the city's side then we could say, 'Well, it's not fair in this specific circumstance that they not keep their dog,'" Savard said.

Evaluating just treatment

Hundreds of pit bull owners received letters saying they had four weeks to give their dog to someone who lives in a municipality that allows pit bulls or to a shelter, and to fill out a form attesting that the dog is no longer in the person's possession.

It threatens legal action and the seizure of the dog if they do not do so.

Savard stressed that her office doesn't have the power to change the dangerous dog bylaw, but it can evaluate if they were treated justly.

Under the bylaw, pit bull owners had until March 31 to apply for the permit and until June 1 to provide all the necessary documents to support their application.

"There could be circumstances where errors were made or misinformation was provided, and if that were shown, or demonstrated, then we could possibly intervene," she said.

According to city spokesperson Gonzalo Nunez, the city won't be reviewing the files — that revising them was done before the letters were sent out.

Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater posted to her Facebook page Friday that she would help anyone who received a letter about their dog.

"No one should have to give up his dog for the reasons you've been given," Goldwater states.

The post was shared almost 2,000 times in eight hours. 

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