Open Letter from the CPSPC

The “Pit Bulls” File: A Sensible Response to a Hasty Decision

Open Letter

The Coalition to Promote the Safety of People and Canines (CPSPC)

21 September 2016

In a few days, the municipal council of the city of Montreal will meet to vote on the adoption of a by-law that could redefine the humane and tolerant reputation that the city currently holds. After the tragic death of a citizen in June, many Quebec elected officials are pushing for the adoption of a law banning all “Pit Bull” type” dogs, under the pretense of improving public safety. But the reality that has been proven around the world, is that this type of approach to animal management is expensive, ineffective, and doomed to fail.

These elected officials in order to support their position, including Denis Coderre, are rallying behind so-called experts who have claimed that the only possible solution is to ban “pit bull” type dogs. However, until this very day we have never heard these experts speak in public. Why hide them? Why not cite the studies on which their claims are based? Why is it that our elected officials are unable to support their claims with tangible facts? In fact, according to most experts, banning a specific breed of dog does not attack the root of the problem.

The Coalition to Promote the Safety of People and Canines is coming forward with a direct response to the claims by the city’s municipal administration. Having been founded on the support of numerous credible experts with diverse backgrounds (veterinary medicine, animal behaviour specialists, sociologists, scientists, lawyers, criminologists, etc.), as well as responsible dog guardians, our Coalition firmly believes that the implementation of a breed-specific ban will not lead to a decrease in serious dog bites incidents. On the contrary, it would result in a false sense of security.

Our arguments are based on concrete facts and figures, all of which the municipal administration is unwilling to bring to the public’s attention. However, one does not have to look too far to find this information.

• In 2005, the province of Ontario banned all “Pit Bull” type dogs. According to a study conducted by the Toronto Humane Society in 2010, in the five years following this ban, there was no significant decrease in the number of dog bites recorded. Furthermore, in the 7 years following the legislation’s adoption, the number of hospitalizations resulting from serious bites increased by 45 %.

• In Manitoba, the number of hospitalizations linked to dog bites remains unchanged since the adoption of a “pit bull” ban in 1990.

• Meanwhile Quebec, has recorded 6 deaths due to serious dog bites in the past 30 years, only one of which was caused by a dog identified as a “pit-bull” type, albeit with no official confirmation of the breed by scientific or veterinary experts.

There is no question that any death caused by a dog, regardless of its breed, is a tragedy. If we wish to diminish, and eventually altogether eliminate these unfortunate events, pure and simple, breed-specific legislation is not the solution. An initiative to educate dog guardians, as well as society in general, must be undertaken in order to favour the development of safer habits and behaviours. Achieving a greater level of public awareness, by all possible means (visits to elementary and high schools, information kiosks in CEGEPs and universities, posters, advertisements, etc.), is an absolute priority in order to ensure that a maximum amount of dogs are sterilized, vaccinated, walked on leash; all measures that have been proven, time and time again, to increase public security, rather than to arbitrarily ban a specific dog breed.

Here is what does work: more education, a better understanding of canine behavior, better management of adoptions as well as the introduction of stricter legislation with more severe penalties for offenders. And here it is what does not work: a law based on fear and intolerance, appearing to reassure the public without truly offering any protection.

Our elected officials have the chance to make Montreal a pioneer in animal management and from the bottom of our hearts, this is what the members of the Coalition want.

Me Geneviève Grey
Lawyer, Grey Casgrain s.e.n.c.
Co-Founder, The Coalition to Promote the Safety of People and Canines (CPSPC)

Me Julius H. Grey
Lawyer Grey Casgrain s.e.n.c.
Co-Founder, The Coalition to Promote the Safety of People and Canines (CPSPC)

Sabrina Sabbah
Founder Association Velvet Hearts
Co-Founder, The Coalition to Promote the Safety of People and Canines (CPSPC)

Read also: The Hammer Comes Down on Dog Breeds and Permits

Dr Lissa Altschuler
Veterinary Medicine, Vetspress

Liliana Benitez

Mégane Bigot de La Touanne
PPB Team

Sophie Bienvenu
Laureate and Author

Marie-Josée Carrière

Ewa Demianowicz
Campaign Manager, Humane Society International – Canada

Sterling Downey
City Councillor, Verdun

Ariane Duplessis
Biologist, Animex

Dr. Florence Erdmann
DVM, IPSAV, Pierrefonds Animal Hospital

Jennifer Gailis
MSc, CTC, Animal Trainer and Well-being Consultant

Andrée Gibeault
Animal Health Technician, Animex

Dr Amanda Glew
Veterinary Medicine, Timberlea Veterinary Clinic

Me Anne-France Goldwater
Goldwater, Dubé

Me Geneviève Grey
Grey Casgrain s.e.n.c.

Me Julius Grey
Grey Casgrain s.e.n.c.

Me Linda Hammerschmid
Hammerschmid & Associés, Author and Member of CPAT

Zina Hussein
MSc Biology, Co-Founder Association Velvet Hearts

Dr Sébastien Kfoury
DMV, IPSAV, President of Groupe Vétéri-médic and Director of Veterinary Services for Centre vétérinaire Rive-Sud, Centre vétérinaire Laval, St-Eustache/Deux-Montagnes Veterinary Hospital and Blainville Veterinary Hospital

Zuzanna Kubica
Canine Trainer and Behaviour Consultant CoeurCanin, V.P. of Regroupement Québécois des Intervenants en Éducation Canin

Sébastien Larabée
Canine Trainer

Anouk Laurent
Lawyer, Founder of the Vanilla Refuge to set-up a shelter for the homeless and their pets in Montreal

Caroline Leblanc
Founder Solidarité dans la Rue, Candidate M.A Social Work

Jean Lessard
Canine Trainer, MCP (CDT) affiliated with Centre vétérinaire Rive-Sud and Cofounder of Regroupement québécois des intervenants en éducation canine (RQIEC)

Dr Isabelle Pinard
Veterinary Medicine

Erika-May Poulin-Pasmore

Jessica Pilon
Law student and V.P Events, FEDJA

Dr James Rassi
Veterinary Medicine

Sabrina Sabbah
Founder Association Velvet Hearts

Ève Surprenant
Bio-ecology Technician, Animex

Johanne Tassé
Founder CaacQ

Visit the Velvet Hearts Facebook Page

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

Feature image: Carly Jane Casper via

There are 6 comments

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  1. Frances

    Since this is an open letter and not an article, I will comment on it as such.
    Some dogs’ “bites” (more like mauling) can be deadly.

    A sidebar to this, as regards Westmount:
    The off-leash times allowed at Summit Woods (always a public place, not just a dog run) should be ended entirely (a complete ban).
    The Executive Director of the Montreal SPCA agrees with this position, that dogs should be on-leash whenever in public.
    He stated, on Sept. 21, 2016, in a letter to the editor (Mtl. Gazette), “… Those rules – including mandatory use of a leash in public places and registration and identification of dogs – would significantly reduce the risk of dog bites.”

  2. Marilynn Gillies

    I agree that dogs should be on a leash whenever in public and that applies to Summit Woods. In fact, there should probably be a ban on dogs in Summit Woods for at least a year or two to help the woods regenerate. Once the ban was lifted an on-leash at all times policy would prevent the woods from becoming so damaged again. Dogs can run freely in dog runs which in Westmount will supposedly be first class when renovations are done.

  3. Jill Dolon

    Open letter to Legislators and the Public

    To Whom It May Concern:

    When I began my involvement in animal welfare issues 18 years ago, I too was fearful of Pit Bulls. I had watched or read the stories in the media, with the mind set that if something is on TV or in print, it must be true. The truth is that emotions and half- truths sell papers and get ratings. The media has created an appalling image of a dog that was once considered a war hero, childhood icon, and a loyal, loving companion.
    I understand part of your job is to protect the citizens of your community. When I was an Animal Control Officer I too had to protect the citizens in my community. Unfortunately, I all too often had to protect a number of animals from a number of citizens. And yes, there were a number of pit bulls that needed to be protected. However, Breed Specific Legislation is ineffective. Behind every animal issue is a people issue, and part of the solution is public education, prevention, and awareness.
    I do believe that stronger laws need to be enacted, but the problem has never been and will never be any particular breed of dog. The problem is people. It is people who let their dogs run loose and it is people who do not spay or neuter their pets. This often leads to accidental litters adding to the pet overpopulation problem. People do horrible things to animals. People treat pets as disposable commodities. People surrender or abandon their animals instead of taking responsibility for them for their lifetime. People treat dogs cruelly and train them to attack. People can turn any dog into a dangerous dog. It is the dog’s owner who is responsible for the dog’s behavior, not the dog, and certainly not the breed. What’s needed is people control, not dog control. You cannot look at a single dog, identify its breed, and then decide whether or not it is going to attack. Enact and enforce dangerous dog laws that cover any dog because of its actions, not its breed. Judging a dog by its breed is like judging a person based on their religion, color of their skin, ethnicity, or even who they love.
    Typically, all these dogs want to do is please you and love you. I have been there when a fighting dog has continued to lick my face and wag its tail, even while taking its final breath.
    Animals cannot help themselves – they have to depend on us to be their voice. I sincerely hope you and the citizens of your community will oppose any and all attempts to criminalize owning a certain breed of dog that is for the most part misunderstood, and instead, punish the people who commit horrendous acts toward these and all animals.

    Jill Dolon
    President & Founder Unconditional Love Foundation

  4. Linda Hammerschmid

    Someone please tell me why in North America humans are so dog restrictive, when in Europe the dogs can go almost everywhere and are appreciated, not denigrated?!

  5. Georges Dupras

    It is truly regrettable when decisions are made for political reasons rather than on scientific ones. It is equally maddening when many of these decisions are made during the heat of an incident, even before the semblance of “facts” have been tabled.

    Mr. Coderre is well known for shooting from the hip and, on this issue anyway, the mayor has painted himself into a corner from which he cannot extricate himself. Whether it’s breed specific legislation, which has never worked, rodeos or carriage horses, perhaps it is time Montrealer’s cast their votes towards another mindset, one less prone to a showdown mentality.

    Georges R. Dupras

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