The Hammer Comes Down
on Dog Breeds and Permits

The Knee “Jerk” Political Decisions We All Suffer

By Linda Hammerschmid

The most aggressive breed, one study found, was the Dachshund. The researchers discovered that one in five have bit or attempted to bite a stranger, and one in twelve have lashed out at their owners. Chihuahuas were in second place, and Jack Russells were the third most aggressive breed. Up to 30 percent of these smaller breeds have bit or attempted to bite unfamiliar dogs.

Surprised? One of the study’s researchers thinks that bigger dogs were thought to be more aggressive because past research looked at bite statistics – but most bites are not reported. Bigger dogs have bigger bites, which makes it more likely that those, not Dachshund bites, are the ones being medically treated and therefore reported. This study, however, surveyed 6,000 dog owners instead.

The least aggressive breeds included Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Siberian Huskies and Greyhounds. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers scored about average to below average in the study.

Of course in Quebec we have sadly become anesthetised to the whittling down of our rights and freedoms. When did we give up? When did we decide it was okay?

Instead of treating the issues at the root, politicians more often than not legislate only the end results.

Be it our language laws, burkas or niqabs, or dog breeds, the central theme is the same, we are no longer permitted to do something that for decades, if not centuries, we did until that next law forbade us from doing so.

Instead of treating the issues at the root, politicians more often than not legislate only the end results.

Such is the case in this latest loss of a right by banning the “Pit Bull” or Pit Bull mix, and this notwithstanding that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) does not solve the actual problem and does not really work.

When did you ever know Quebec to be a follower of Ontario? Yet our elected officials have chosen their legislation to copy – and this albeit the Ontario experience is a proved failure – not too bright. To prove my point, the banned breeds of Ontario are:

– American Pit Bull Terriers
– Staffordshire Bull Terriers
– American Bulldogs
– Any dog whose sire or dam is one of the above breeds.

In Montreal, Pit Bulls will be defined as any of the above same breeds (although for the moment the American Bulldog is safe) and to this pack Mayor Denis Coderre has added:

any dog that presents characteristics of one of those banned breeds.

dead pit bull dogs westmountmag.ca

The result of a breed ban – the rounding up and killing of family dogs in Denver, CO.
Image: Beverly & Pack via StockPholio.net

So basically, any dog can effectively be your dog, or as Mayor Coderre has slid in, a type of dog!

The result according to the SPCA will be that “adoptable, healthy and behaviourally sound puppies and dogs that come through the SPCA will be condemned to death,” as stated by Alana Devine Director of Animal Advocacy at the SPCA.

Now I don’t know about you, but being the recipient of daily petitions to save dogs from euthanasia in China, Taiwan, India, Mexico and the like, these now must take a back seat to those dogs who will potentially be under death orders here thanks to Mayor Coderre.

MPP Cheri DiNovo in Ontario has pointed out that stats since the 2004 Ontario ban indicate that the ban “is a predictable failure” as any (large) dog could be dangerous, if mistreated or trained to be violent. I would add and so can smaller dogs, a topic addressed above already.

In fact, the top 4 breed biters in Toronto have been Labradors, Shitzus, Golden Retrievers (don’t even dream Mayor Coderre of coming after mine) and German Shepherds between 2004 and 2014. Oh yes, Pit Bulls too, but they fall behind the German Shepherds.

If we had to copy any system, it should be the one employed in Calgary where BSL was avoided while promoting education of dog owners and their children, combined with enforcement. Bites and dogs related issues have dropped dramatically there since the mid-80s.

But what about fatal dog attacks you ask? Interestingly enough, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) tracks such stats, in the US at least, and there are studies based on media reports since 1887 (Google search, “fatal dog attacks in the U.S.” Wikipedia). The CDC study in 2000 reported of the 227 fatal dog attacks studied for which data was available, between 1979 & 1998, less than 1%, or 2 people, died when the dog involved was restrained. Ergo, it’s not the breed, it’s the owners ultimately who need training. And this is not to mention that “reliable” verification of the “breed” of dog is only possible in 18% of incidents.

This may be but one of the legal loopholes by which owners can save their pets from being euthanized. If you are against this ban write to the Minister of Public Security, Martin Coiteux, since racism and pit bulls are apparently priorities for the Quebec Liberal Government this fall. After all, why bother with the important issues of finances and infrastructure when race and pit topics grab the headlines.

If it really was about public security, as Minister Coiteux hints, then address the issue of dog ownership which is where the responsibilities, negligence and blame actually lie.

Read also: Open Letter from the CPSPC

permit sign westmountmag.caMisinformation Regarding Dog Licensing

Since a CTV News story aired Sunday night (August 21) the internet here has been abuzz with dog owners somehow being under the impression that they have to purchase numerous dog licenses for every Town and/or Borough walked through with their dogs, or that they cannot walk their dogs in Montreal proper, or that if their Vet/Dog Trainer is in Montreal they need a City of Montreal dog license as well as the one from their own place of residence.

This is not true. Here are the facts:

Go online at ville.montreal.qc.ca/animals and you will be able to verify the rules and costs of dogs licenses (and cats) in your Borough.

The heading is about Obtaining Your Permit From Your Borough. Once you have obtained a valid permit, be it for Westmount (go to their Website for their rules) or elsewhere, you are good to go dog walking. The key is valid (you will need to provide proof of up-to-date vaccinations and to pay the fee applicable) and that the tag is on the dog collar. Simple.

If you do somehow get a ticket, contest it as you do not need a Montreal license if you have one already (unless maybe you own a Pit Bull but that is another story).


Feature image: Audrey via StockPholio.net

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of WestmountMag.ca, its publishers or editors.

Read also: The Hammer Comes Down: Is Reimbursement Due?

linda hammerschmid
Me Linda Hammerschmid is an attorney and has been practicing Family Law since 1982. She is the Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates at 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290. She is a founding and current member, and past Secretary (28 years) of The Family Law Association of Quebec. She is a frequent guest on CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD, providing commentary on Family Law. You can also hear her regularly on the CJAD show “Passion” with Dr. Laurie Betito, the last Thursday of each month. She and her dog Mac are members of Caring Paws Animal Therapy (CPAT) giving joy to the less fortunate. Me Hammerschmid can be reached at (514) 846-1013 or by e-mail at hammerschmid@vif.com. All inquiries will be treated confidentially.

There are 24 comments

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  1. Brian Johnston

    Mayor Coderre, the mayor of Montréal being the quasi Dictator and he appears to be messing around with our pets which is something he knows absolutely nothing about. While at the same time may abandon priorities in finance and never ending gridlock due his incompetence.

  2. Dietlinde Miesen

    Great, great article Linda. The mayor of Montreal and other bureaucrats deciding what kind of dog we are “allowed”, to have is beyond outrageous. These people are elected to administer/manage our cities and towns efficiently. They are NOT elected to dictate what we are to do with our lives – our personal lives and certainly are/were NOT elected to create new oppressive laws/loi’s of any kind! Notwithstanding their record of achievements — that have been a profound, mind numbing failure to date! They are also (by law) obligated to account for their actions and expenditures – that again none of them have done!

    Our city is mess, roads falling apart, sewer lines bursting, industry fleeing the city – taxes raised to the point where residents and businesses are fleeing the city by the thousands every year; and the list of ‘abuse and violations of their limited and temporary powers’ is beyond belief. So here we go again with Coderre – behaving like his too often quoted, “Montreal is MY City”, note the ..”MY”, (have yet to hear him say ..”Our”…. ) city – making it crystal clear with his ridiculous actions that this is what he actually believes!

    How dare this little group of politicians – waste our time and our money – creating havoc – pain and countless tears of grief by tearing our animals – (our pets are FAMILY) away from us! Who do these numbnuts think they are? These yahoos were elected to ENHANCE our lives – and NOT to DESTROY our lives and OUR CITY; and yet I repeat this is exactly what they have done and continue to do and unless and until the citizenry stands up and lets them know – they work for us – and are fully accountable to us, nothing will change.

  3. David Ledden

    Thank you for taking the time to bring some lucidity and wisdom to an issue that is overwhelmed by hysteria and ignorance.

  4. RUGER

    excellent comments from BRIAN and DIETLINDE regarding LINDA aricle There is no common sense and we all feel so helpless and frustrated. It is a tragic destiny for those dogs completely unjustified

  5. Mireille Goulet

    Please re-read the definition and its third paragraph: The definition does not only include dogs that possess several (undefined) morphological characteristcs of any of the 3 breeds, but also Dogs that possess characteristics of any MIX with any of the 3 breeds (scratch your head on this one): This encompasses, at this point, over 90% of the dog population, since it would exclude only pedigreed dogs and chihuahuas.

    • Linda Hammerschmid

      Not even, if the pedigrees and chihuahuas display “characteristics of the other named banned breeds.
      Thanks for reading & commenting.

  6. Dianne Singer

    Excellent article. Montreal and the Province of Quebec are planning to pass laws that have failed in every jurisdiction, including Ontario.
    Passing so-called “breed” specific legislation (“BSL”) is the legal equivalent of using Enron’s accounting techniques.
    Many jurisdictions are repealing their BSL and many places have prohibited BSL. Why? It simply does not work.
    BSL is unfounded, unjust, inhumane, ineffective and fiscally irresponsible. It makes law-abiding dog owners into second-class citizens and kills unoffending dogs.
    If the politicians are truly concerned about public safety, they must pass clear, enforceable breed-neutral dog law AND enforce it. That is the only sane, rational and effective solution to public safety vis-a-vis dogs.

  7. Dianne Singer

    The definition in the proposed Montreal by-law also includes “dogs having characteristics of any mix of the three breeds” – basically, anything with four legs and a tail.

    The first dog seized under Ontario’s sick “breed” specific legislation was a registered, papered Labrador Retriever, and the owners had to go to court to get the seizure and killing order withdrawn.

    Owners of ANY type of dog in Montreal should be very, very angry about this by-law and let their city councillor and the mayor know. In writing.

  8. Selma Mulvey

    You are correct in that breed, which is really shape, based legislation has failed wherever it has been implemented.

    A couple of points. American Bulldogs are not banned in Ontario, American Staffordshire terriers are.

    Also, according to Toronto Animal Services, the lead biters in that city by “breed” are the ‘german shepherd dog’, ‘parson russell terrier’, ‘labrador retriever’ and ‘rottweiler’. I show the breed names this way because there is nobody anywhere who is determining that dogs identified as members of a breed actually ARE members of that breed – as we well know. It is more likely that dogs with upright ears and bushy tails, or black-and-tan markings, etc, etc, etc are being labeled inaccurately.

    The ‘pit bull’ bites recorded in the same database refer to mixed breed dogs identified with the generic term.

    Mixed breed dogs make up roughly 85% of all dogs in Canada.

    Breed-based bite data are useless, and it really doesn’t matter which perceived breed bites more or less because that whole angle is based on guesswork, not actual fact.

    • Linda Hammerschmid

      Following your comment I went back to verify my research and when I type in on Google “list of banned dogs in Ontario” I still got the list I wrote which includes the American Bulldog.

  9. Patricia Legris

    Thank you so much for putting to the forefront all the flaws of this BSL. It ahs been greatly lacking form the media especially in the French media. Thank you!

  10. Amy Webb

    Coderre and the Québec government have clearly been talking and aspiring to unify these absurd regulations. The recommendations that came out yesterday make an effort to APPEAR objective, but are clearly slanted. Confusion, contradiction, and lots of pain and suffering awaits easily 50% the families with dogs in Québec – most of whom are mutts -if we don’t stop this now. The report ADMITS that the regulations proposed will probably do no good, but will assuage the people asking for a pitbull ban. Absolute lunacy! How many families will leave Québec with these new regulations in place? I’ve come across 5 already. https://www.scribd.com/document/322691082/Rapport-final-du-Groupe-de-travail-sur-l-encadrement-des-chiens-dangereux#from_embed

  11. Cindy Moynan

    It is the same old thing, wait until something awful happens and then implement PPM, Panic Policy Making. And Mayor Régis Labeaume, Mayor Coderre and the Quebec Government are guilty of exactly this. The SPCA has been trying to get the city to clean up back yard breeding, to implement spay and neuter, I presented a petition to ban the retail selling of animals in pet stores (which somehow got lost in the office). Now, I imagine, the city must be in a situation that they could possible be sued over the death of the woman by an aggressive dog? The dog was supposed to have been aggressive in 2 other incidents. So I assume the city is at fault for not following through? This is ridiculous, Mayor Codderre refuses to listen to an advisory group, to see the stats BSL presented to him from Ontario, refuses to listen to the SPCA all people who know far more than he ever will. This will cost many innocent dogs their lives.

  12. Brian

    I truly hope that sound bites (no pun intended) being put in place by the CSPCA, as well as other associations will alter the vote to be held on 26 September.
    A great deal of this garbage set in place by Mayor Coddere and company is no doubt fully responsible for actions taken in Ville Brossard.
    I hope that Julius Grey’s noteriety and press conferences will force our dictator Caddere to re-think hs stand on this bylaw with grave consequences.
    Mayor Coddere, short a couple of billion neurons, probably would do well stop listening to Trump & Company.

  13. Georges Dupras

    Mayor Coderre is a typical old-time, cigar chewing, baby kissing politician. Decisons are made, not on research, but on which way the political wind might be blowing. It’s much easier to deal with the symptoms (dog breeds) rather than the problems (Man and puppy mills), so that is exactly what Mr. Coderre is doing.

    Personal pride is another problem that seems to cripple many of our decision makers. Admittedly, when we lack the fundamentals of an issue, and in the heat of a discussion, any one of us can paint ourselves into a corner. With the years, one would hope that such events would be fewer and fewer. The real trick is to learn how to avoid shooting from the hip in the first place, followed by knowing how to extricate yourself from a bad decision with some finesse. Mr. Coderre has yet to grasp this concept.

    Georges R. Dupras

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