Exploring Both Sides: The Montreal Pit Bull Ban

exploring-both-sidesI just spent the last six days with Bruno while Justin was out of town. He (Bruno) was recovering from bronchitis/kennel cough and had to stay home instead of spending time with his dog friends. I worked from home for two days, and spent my weekend in the house to monitor him and keep him company. At some point during our extended weekend together, I began reading about the pit bull ban in Montreal. The Montreal city council had passed legislation banning the adoption and breeding of “pit bull type” dogs. Those that already have the dogs would be able to keep them, after completing a registration process, sterilization, increased fees, and muzzling the dogs while they are out in public.

The legislation has now been suspended after an outpouring of concern and outrage from several organizations and citizens. Currently, under the suspension, pit bulls can continue to be adopted, and current owners do not have to abide by the added requirements.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am cuddled up with my 16 month old pit bull puppy as I write this. We are on the couch, he has his head resting on my thigh as he snores himself to sleep. He is part of my family, I worry about him when he’s by himself at home or looks like he might be sad or anxious, I get excited when he’s excited, and I plan my life around taking care of him. As hard as I might try, I cannot be completely unbiased on this topic. I love a pit bull, I recognize his facial features and personality in every picture I see of dogs of a similar breed. I even wrote an entire post about my relationship with this pooch. I can’t imagine my sweet, energetic, happy puppy being forced to be muzzled when out in public or, heaven forbid, being euthanized because it would have been illegal for him to be adopted in the first place. Never the less, I am struggling with defining my position as I empathize and understand several aspects of the issue.

The Montreal legislation was initiated after a woman was attacked by a pit bull, ultimately dying from injuries sustained in the incident. At this point it is unclear as to whether or not the dog was actually a pit bull, the claim has been disputed, not that it changes the fact that someone has died due to an attack.

If you read any of the hundreds of articles on the internet regarding the Montreal legislation, and look through the comment threads, you will find the majority of people blaming the owners of dogs. Not in the most respectful way, and most certainly not in the most grammatically correct way. Ever since adopting Bruno I have understood this logic, it has been my gut reaction – to not blame the dog, but the human that did not take the responsibility of owning the dog seriously. From the moment Justin and I decided to adopt Bruno, we were researching his breeds, strategizing on how we could best support his training, and manage his aggressive nature. I was scared. I had never had a dog before and quite frankly, was nervous about living with one. I automatically, before even meeting him, knew it was my responsibility to make sure Bruno could be a contributing member of dog-society. After a year of working with him and learning more about how dogs function, I am certain that any dog, if treated properly and trained to understand his place in the world, can function without falling into the aggressive stigma.

The human aspect of this issue is impossible to ignore though, you can’t deny that whether or not this dog was trained, it attacked someone. I’ve driven down streets that have dogs roaming aimlessly, seen dogs chained up for hours outside, effectively being ignored by their world. I understand that any dog can become aggressive and potentially dangerous given the right circumstances, and what is there for law makers to do to comfort communities of people that have been affected by such a horrific incident?

I’m not sure what the right or wrong answer is. I am not sure of anything other than I love my American Staffordshire Terrier and take full responsibility to make sure that his sweet demeanor stays that way.

 

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