Outrage, threats in response to Quebec City pit bull ban

Quebec City's pit bull ban has sparked so much anger that police are concerned for the mayor's safety.

Dog owners, residents react to Régis Labeaume's Facebook announcement on banning pit bulls

Many are denouncing the ban, saying it leaves owners with a choice to put down or abandon their dogs, or to leave the city. (CBC)

Quebec City's pit bull ban has sparked so much anger that police are concerned for the mayor's safety.

There are more than 13,000 comments in reaction to a video posted to Facebook on Thursday by Régis Labeaume in which he announces a widespread pit bull ban in the province's capital. The comments include thinly veiled threats against the mayor.

The Quebec City ban will force current pit bull owners to get rid of their dogs by the end of the year, or face escalating fines. 

Six months to comply

Explaining his decision in the video, Labeaume said that as a father he wouldn't feel safe if his neighbour owned a pit bull.

"Even if a pit bull has never bitten, even if he appears to be friendly, the owner has six months to get rid of it," Labeaume said.

The ban applies to all pit bulls — including those already in Quebec City. Many dog owners decried the ban, saying it leaves them with a choice to put down or abandon their dogs, or to leave the area. 

Some have gone so far as to threaten the mayor. One person referred to Labeaume as a dictator and another wrote "it will take an army of pigs to protect you."

"It's fortunate that the mayor is protected by police," wrote Nicolas Paquet.

But other pit bull owners simply expressed concern about possibly losing the companionship of their dogs. 

Long-term Quebec City resident and dog owner Dave Dupont, pleaded with Labeaume to reconsider the decision. 

"Pit bulls are not mean dogs," Dupont said. "It is their owners who make all the difference." 

Dupont said his six-month-old pit bull is the "most affectionate" dog and that while he could understand imposing stricter rules for dog owners, an outright ban was unnecessary.

"I love Quebec City but I won't have any other choice but to move."

'We have to check each comment'

Given the intensity of the Facebook comments, Quebec City police officers are on the lookout for criminal threats against Labeaume.

"It's very tough for us so we have to check each comment," police spokesperson Pierre Poirier said.

He added that if anyone files a complaint with the police about threats against the mayor then police will investigate.

Ban starts next year

Starting Jan. 1, 2017 any dog on the list of banned breeds will be prohibited.

Anyone caught with a banned dog is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offence.

The list of banned breeds in Quebec City includes:

  • Bull terriers.

  • Staffordshire bull terriers.

  • American pit bull terriers.

  • American Staffordshire terriers.

  • Any mix with these breeds.

Montreal not in the same 'frame of mind'

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and municipal councillor Anie Samson, who is in charge of the city's animal file, will make an announcement regarding pit bulls Saturday morning.

In an interview on Radio-Canada's Gravel le matin Friday morning, Coderre said he is not in the same "frame of mind" as Labeaume when asked about Montreal's plans.