(BSL) Breed Specific Legislation VS (RPOB) Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw
In a classic campaign of misinformation, a hurried and archaic BSL by-law has caused yet another uproar within our city of Montreal. This article is for the people looking for truth, hard facts, and a better understanding of what the hell “BSL” stands for, and what we COULD stand for. How WE, as pet owners, can prevent this terribly false representation of our furry little friends, and get rid of the BSL bullshit surrounding Coderre’s solution for poorly-raised dogs.
June 9th, 2016, 55-year old Christiane Vadnais was found dead in her own backyard. Her neighbour saw the dog playing with the lifeless body. The following Wednesday it was announced that the SPVM officers weren’t sure of the breed, until a DNA confirmation that the dog was registered under the name “Lucifer”, and after that, pronounced a Pit Bull. Few imagined how this would end a few months later, but here we are…
What does BSL really stand for?
Breed Specific Legislation, which is basically dog discrimination, is based solely on the physical characteristics of whichever breed is being targeted. In this newest case, it’s the Pit Bull breed: dogs with large, square heads, and muscular bodies.
Historical context: By no means the first example, breed-banning has mainly focused on the trendiest and most powerful dogs of the day: First it was German Shepherds in the 1960’s, then Dobermans in the 1970’s, Rottweilers came after, and now we face the same fear surrounding Pit Bulls
We have, in fact, gained crucial information from past enforcements of BSL laws; It is costly, ineffective, and advances little in communities where people and their pets have been minding their own.
On the morning of October 5th, The SPCA released an article stating “A First Victory!” for the anti-BSL community. Quebec Superior Court Justice Louis Gouin took the SPCA’s side on the BSL. This is definitely a milestone seeing as the honourable Judge realized and considered that the premise of Coderre’s argument for the BSL Pit Bull ban was hastily drafted and quite vague, pertaining to the identification of the breed. Considering the ban was on “Pit Bull TYPE” breeds, which includes mixed-breeds and similar-looking breeds to the Pit Bull, the consequences of a lazily-written draft could have impacted hundreds of households.
Now the important part to realize is that Coderre and his army of associates will be back with a more in-depth rebuttal.
If we take a look at what other, more productive communities have done with BSL laws, Calgary finishes the race with a gold medal and chipped tooth.
We heard Coderre’s, “People First!” Tweet attached with a letter pursuing the ban. Calgary has a different meaning for “People First!”, it’s focus on the people owning the pets rather than the man-made breeds at stake for man’s mistakes. If there is hope, it is that we can show the other end of the leash as holding more political power than Coderre realizes.
“We have to get to the root of the problem, and that is that people must maintain control of their animals”
-Bill Bruce, past Director of Animal Services for Calgary, stated in an article with the Montreal Gazette
The issue here, states Bruce, is not the breed, but the owner. The lack of education surrounding canine aggression myths and the spread of misinformation and non-factual statements do us no favours.
Proper resolving of this case could lead to the extermination of the BSL law completely.
Calgary started enforcing compassionate and educative laws to combat BSL laws, and in 2006, enacted a Bylaw under the name of Responsible Pet Ownership. The results, since then, have been astounding and prove that there is a better alternative than flat-out banning a breed.
Calgary’s Compromise to BSL
Turning to their experts for advice, Calgarian lawmakers found out that, through proper education and law enforcement, these laws can be (and proved to be) effective.
We could also learn from this, a stricter policy on dog owners which includes proper screening and background checks for aggressive and/or criminal behaviour within dog owners. Proper education on dog ownership is a close second. But above all, understanding (our own) canine(‘s) behaviour, needs, limitations and fears remains the best form of doing your own self-regulation.
Educational campaigns on proper training, affordable sterilization, early-life socialization, as well as enforcement of canine registries are all proven to be much more effective than any BSL law enforced.
We don’t need a ban on a breed, we need responsible and educated dog-owners!
Words by Grace M Karam