What to do about pit bulls and dangerous dogs in our community

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By Councillor Mike Cohen:


While the Quebec government studies the issues of dangerous dogs and consults with municipalities, many of which have already implemented bans on pit bulls in particular, the City of Côte Saint-Luc is reinforcing an existing bylaw.

Our most recent bylaw regarding dangerous dogs was adopted in 2009. In the wake of a series of high-profile dog attacks, Public Safety Department has sent letters to current owners of pit bulls in our community that we have on record, asking that they be muzzled.
According to our bylaw, a dangerous dog” means: a dog which has a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, bite, threaten, or injure, with or without provocation, any persons, property or other animals; with or without provocation or physical injury, attacks, bites, or threatens any person, property; a domestic animal that has been trained for dog fighting or to attack upon a command . In the event that the owner and/or custodian of a dangerous dog fails to comply with the obligation to muzzle the animal when on any public property throughout the city of Côte Saint-Luc, he shall be liable to a fine.

Pit Bull

Is this strong enough? As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I know how it must feel for someone who has a pet they love, only to be threatened to have it taken away via legislation. Several municipalities do have laws on the books banning pit bulls. However, they are not the only breeds that pose a threat. We will wait to see what the Quebec government decides for that will impact on our future actions. In the meantime, I wish to urge the owners of dogs considered to be dangerous to please use a muzzle.

The City of Laval wants Ottawa to make changes to the Criminal Code of Canada to create uniform rules across the country to deal with the problem of dangerous dogs.Right now, it’s possible to charge owners of dogs who attack people with criminal negligence, but it rarely happens. Laval Mayor Marc Demers said that the article in the Criminal Code dealing with criminal negligence should be amended to make specific reference to the responsibilities of dog owners.”We would like the federal government to do its homework, so it would be all across Canada the same thing, it won’t change from city to city,” Demers told CBC News.”That way, across the country, if you bring up your dog to be vicious so he may attack somebody, you are responsible for that.”
In recent weeks we have had some disturbing incidents in our own community. At one park, three people with large dogs (a pit bull, a rottweiler and another breed ) were approached by a Public Security agent and asked to leave the premises with the dogs. The owner responded that her dogs were trained to attack on command and loosened her grip on the leash. Fearing for his safety, the agent called immediately for police back-up who arrived, handcuffed the woman in the back of the police car and pointed a Taser at one of the men. Police declarations were filled out and we believe charges were filed against one or all of the individuals involved.
Meanwhile, we had a pit bull attack when the dog escaped from a ground floor apartment and attacked a pug. The dog in question already had a muzzle order in place. Public Security and police were on scene. We issued tickets and the police pressed criminal negligence charges against the owner.
As of January 1, 2017, any dog on a list of banned breeds will be prohibited. Anyone caught with a banned dog will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offence. The City of Montreal is working to come up with a uniform set of rules regarding “dangerous dogs” across its 19 boroughs, but won’t say if it’s leaning toward an all-out ban on any particular breed. Here is a recent TV report.
In Ontario a pit bull ban was proposed in 2004 after a number of cases in which people were badly injured in pit bull attacks. It was passed in 2005. “The legislation bans pit bulls in Ontario, places restrictions on existing pit bulls, and toughens the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public,” Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General says on its website.
The legislation, called the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, defines a pit bull as a pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or any dog “that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar.

Pit Bulls to be muzzled in CSL

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While a much anticipated province wide ban on Pit Bull type dogs may be months away the City of Cote Saint-Luc is taking immediate steps to require Pit Bulls on its territory to be muzzled in public.

CSL has had a dangerous dog bylaw for several years. In light of the recent tragic and fatal mauling by a Pit Bull in Laval and substantial national media attention on attacks elsewhere and on the severity of such attacks by dogs in this class the City decided to reassure its residents by requiring the immediate muzzling until the province pronounces on this issue.

Several cities have moved to ban the breed outright in recent days.

While there are few dogs of this genre in CSL this action should reassure residents who are deeply concerned for their own safety as well as for their family members.

Owners of Pit Bulls in CSL will receive a notice in the coming days.

Pit Bull is the common name for a type of dog. Formal breeds often considered in North America to be of the Pit Bull type include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

New city bylaw will protect residents from dangerous, exotic “animals”

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The deaths of two New Brunswick boys who were strangled by a large python highlighted the need for strict regulations concerning exotic pets. When this tragic incident occurred last August I immediately called Jonathan Shecter, City Clerk and Director of Legal Services asking him to investigate what responsibility the municipality has.

“What we have in Canada is a patchwork of different municipal bylaws and provincial regulations,” Melissa Mallow, a spokesperson for the World Society for Protection of Animals, told CTV News.

She said her organization has been calling on Canadian provinces to take on the responsibility of regulating the sale and ownership of exotic animals especially those that may pose a danger to people and the environment.

“Municipal bylaws are usually passed in response to a particular incident that happened in a community but they may not restrict all the animals that are potentially dangerous and difficult to care for,” Matlow said.

Shecter confirmed that the municipality had jurisdiction in this matter and consulted with other cities on the Island of Montreal to learn what bylaws they had in place. Cote Saint-Luc subsequently borrowed heavily from a Beaconsfield bylaw.

At this week’s public council meeting I gave notice of motion on the adoption of a new bylaw that will protect our residents from  potentially dangerous animals that are not usually domesticated.

Once adopted it will be prohibited and considered an offence to keep:

(1) all marsupiala (kangaroos, opossum, etc.);

(2) all non-human primates (monkey, chimpanzee, etc.);

(3) all felines, except the domestic cat;

(4) all canines, except the domestic dog;

(5) all viverridea (civet, mongoose, etc.);

(6) all mustelidea (weasel, otter, ermine, etc.) except the domestic ferret;

(7) all ursidea (bear, panda, etc.);

(8) all ungulate artiodactyla (camel, boar, etc.);

(9) all hyenas;

(10) all ungulate perissodactyla (rhinoceros, tapir etc.);

(11) all elephants;

(12) all pinnipedia (seal, walrus, sea lion, etc.);

(13) all snakes of the python and boa family;

(14) all poisonous reptiles;

(15) all diurnal and nocturnal raptors (eagle, owl, etc.);

(16) all edentate (anteater, armadillo, etc.);

(17) all bats;

(18) all crocodilians;

(19) all ratie birds (ostrich, emu, etc.);

(20) all gallinaceous (rooster, pheasant, etc.);

(21) all pigeons, gulls, sea gulls and little wild animals such as squirrels, skunks, racoons and others.

The Montreal Police Department will have control to insure the respect of this by-law and will be authorized to visit and examine inside and outside any property.

Anyone contravening the bylaw could face a fine ranging from $100 to $2000.

This bylaw will close the loop often left open by cities across Canada and will ensure the safety and security of our residents against otherwise dangerous animals. So while your pet cat, dog or even turtle needn’t fear because of this municipal bylaw it is unlikely you’ll see a neighbour walking their pet emu, crocodile or python down the block anytime soon.

Update: City Council adopted this bylaw on April 9, 2014.