Projet Montréal plans to act quickly to repeal 'wrong-headed' pit bull ban

Craig Sauvé, the associate executive committee member for citizens' services, says Valérie Plante's administration "heard loud and clear that citizens wanted a better bylaw."

Craig Sauvé says Valérie Plante's administration 'heard loud and clear that citizens wanted a better bylaw'

The new government says it will start working on repealing and replacing the breed specific ban immediately. (Ginette Heppelle/Stephanie Volpi)

The Projet Montréal administration plans to repeal the city's breed-specific animal control bylaw, commonly known as the pit-bull ban, in favour of more effective and more "humane" legislation, according to councillor Craig Sauvé.

Sauvé was appointed Monday by Mayor Valérie Plante to serve as an associate member of her new executive committee, responsible for citizens' services.

He told CBC that the administration plans to replace the "wrong-headed" bylaw with a "data-driven" solution.

"We heard loud and clear that citizens wanted a better bylaw," said Sauvé.

The bylaw passed in September 2016 prohibits Montrealers from adopting new pit bull-type dogs, and people who already owned one before the bylaw went into effect had to get a special permit to keep their dog. Such dogs must wear a muzzle in public, and large dogs of all breeds must also wear a harness.

Sauvé said the new administration will consult pet owners and animal advocates such as the SPCA, which has been a vocal critic of the Coderre administration's ban.

"We look forward to working with them," said Alanna Devine, director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA. "But we're going to hold them to their commitments."

Devine says that while coming up with a new bylaw is a priority, the SPCA wants to see the breed-specific language within the existing bylaw repealed immediately.

"We do believe that part of why Projet Montréal was elected is their commitment to important animal welfare issues," said Devine.

Calgary model

Sauvé said the city plans to look at the Calgary model — one that focuses on owner education.

Calgary has some of the strictest animal regulations in North America, and some 90 per cent of dogs in the metro area are licensed.

In Calgary, there are hefty fines for owners who don't control their dogs and strict rules about licensing and harnessing.

Money raised through licensing is dedicated to education campaigns for pet owners.

Judith Weissmann, a veterinarian in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, told CBC that "education is key."

She's all for repealing the bylaw and says the Calgary model is "gold standard" among experts.

"The most important part is the education campaign," she said. "In Calgary, compliance is very high. Owners of pets in Calgary have been incentivized to participate."

The municipal legislation doesn't include any breed-specific elements.

​"Pit bulls, they might have a marketing problem, but there are other dogs that can potentially be dangerous," said Sauvé.

With files from Jay Turnbull