Quebec Order of Veterinarians apologizes for using suspect studies in pit bull proposals
Data cited in report submitted to government commissioned by American pit bull lobbyists
The Quebec Order of Veterinarians has admitted it made a mistake including questionable studies in the report it submitted to a government advisory group looking into what to do about dangerous dogs.
The order recommended against implementing a ban on pit bulls or any breed of dog specifically, favouring instead measures dealing with dangerous dogs in general.
A weekend report in La Presse revealed five of the roughly 50 studies cited in the report were financed by American pit bull lobbyists and that the data they used was problematic.
Dr. Joel Bergeron, president of the order, said the order has no interest in defending pit bulls.
"It's a mistake we made, I would say in good faith, because our sole [motivation] is public safety and certainly public health," he said on CBC Montreal's Daybreak.
Known problems with studies ignored
The order knew there were particular interests at play in the studies but included them anyway, Bergeron said, adding the issues with those five studies should have been clearly stated at the very least, and excluded from the report.
However, despite the blunder, the order has espoused the same position on breed-specific legislation for almost 30 years and it remains unchanged, he said. In its view, it's insufficient and inefficient to go after one breed of dog.
"We want to make sure all dogs that can cause any threat to people, to kids, will be controlled as well as they can," he said.
In an interview on Radio-Canada's Gravel le matin, Bergeron pointed out the dogs involved in the fatal attack on Christiane Vadnais and the attack on then 8-year-old Brossard girl Vanessa Biron had already displayed dangerous behaviours but nothing was done.
The order is a member of the advisory panel and Bergeron said he will follow up with the other members to clarify what happened.
The task force was convened in the wake of the death Vadnais, who was mauled by a dog in her backyard.
The dog was originally believed to be a pit bull, but documents obtained by the Humane Society International have called that into question. The investigation into the dog's breed is with the borough's dog inspector.
The task force has recommended the government not implement a breed ban, but Premier Philippe Couillard said the final decision rests with legislators.
Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said on the weekend he still believes pit bulls should be banned.
Mistake shouldn't influence government's decision
Eva Demianowicz, a campaign manager at the Humane Society International Canada, says the order's mistake shouldn't influence what the province decides to do.
Despite the dubious science in the work cited by the veterinarians, she said there are a number of peer-reviewed studies that show breed-specific legislation doesn't work.
"It's been an issue that has been studied for decades. What the scientific community agrees on is that there is no breed of dog that is more likely to bite than another, or attack," she said.