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Montreal Bans Pit Bulls After Heated Debate

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Montreal adopted its controversial pit bull ban Tuesday after a heated debate among local politicians.

City council voted 37-23 in favour of the bylaw, which includes a ban on new pit bull-type dogs as of next month and restrictions on those currently in the city.

Mayor Denis Coderre said the law is balanced and was drafted with safety in mind following several attacks, including one last June that resulted in the death of a 55-year-old woman in her backyard.

Coderre suggested the vast majority of those opposed to the regulation were against it because it banned a specific type of dog.

pit bull
The pit bull ban has been debated in Montreal for months. (Photo: Getty)

"We're balanced enough to say that those who already have a dog will be able to keep them under conditions," he told council.

Coun. Anie Samson said bans exist in some 900 cities in 40 countries around the world. Some Quebec communities have recently adopted similar bans, while laws are on the books in large Canadian cities.

The Quebec government is also considering provincial legislation regarding the dogs.

But detractors say breed-specific legislation has been proven to be ineffective in reducing dog bites and that there is generally a trend away from such bans.

"We're balanced enough to say that those who already have a dog will be able to keep them under conditions."

"We have an administration that's moving away from evidence-based policy-making and entering the fray of politics-led evidence-making, which is extremely problematic," Coun. Guillaume Lavoie said prior to the vote.

The emotional debate has raged for months and isn't likely to end with Tuesday's vote.

Opponents of the breed-specific ban have promised legal challenges to the bylaw, which comes into effect Oct. 3.

Limits on already owned pit bulls

After that it will be illegal to own any new pit bull-type dog — a list that includes American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers — or any mixed breed dogs including those or bearing similar physical characteristics.

Grandfathered dogs must be registered by the end of the year and owners will have to be screened for a criminal record. They must also provide proof the dog has been sterilized, micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies.

Pit bulls will have to be muzzled outdoors and kept on a short leash with few exceptions.

If owners don't follow the rules, their dog can be euthanized.

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