06/06/2018 18:52 EDT | Updated 06/06/2018 18:52 EDT

Quebec's Proposed Dangerous Dog Law Ditches Breed-Specific Ban

Pit bull-type dogs will no longer be specifically targeted.

MONTREAL — Quebec legislation on dangerous dogs will not include a controversial breed-specific ban that would have prohibited new pit bull-type dogs.

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said Wednesday he will amend Bill 128 to remove references to specific types of dogs, telling reporters there isn't enough scientific consensus to warrant targeting pit bull-type dogs, Rottweilers and crosses between the two.

"If I had at least some support in the scientific community, I'd feel much more comfortable to continue with that portion of the bill," Coiteux said. "But we had absolutely no one who said this was a practical way of managing potentially dangerous dogs."

The bill was tabled in 2017 following a handful of dog attacks, including the mauling death of a Montreal woman in her own backyard and an attack against a young girl just south of the city.

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Some Quebec municipalities, including Montreal, have moved to adopt their own local legislation, although the province's largest city has since backed off on its plan.

The governing Projet Montreal overturned a controversial ban on pit bull-type dogs earlier this year brought in by former mayor Denis Coderre's administration.

Montreal has held public consultations and will present a revamped animal control bylaw next week it says will be based on best practices while taking into consideration the well-being of animals and public safety.

"After meeting the experts and numerous actors, the government came to the same conclusion as us that targeting a specific race is not applicable," said Coun. Craig Sauve, who is shepherding the city file.

Coiteux said many municipal officials who testified at hearings, and who would be responsible for enforcing the provincial law, said breed-specific rules would be problematic from an identification standpoint.

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He noted the City of Ottawa doesn't apply a provincial pit bull ban in Ontario because it's difficult to enforce.

"We want to have rules that will be applied, that will be observed," Coiteux said.

The Montreal branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it is relieved breed-specific legislation is no longer on the agenda.

"We are happy the government is moving forward nonetheless with provincial legislation that will address the issue of dangerous dogs without the problematic part of targeting dogs because of their breed or what they look like," said Alanna Devine, the SPCA's director for animal advocacy.

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Coiteux said the government is still committed to passing the vast majority of measures in Bill 128 ahead of the summer recess and the Oct. 1 provincial election.

He said all three major parties agree it's important to legislate and what's left of the bill will put stricter rules on dog breeders and the control of dogs deemed aggressive or dangerous.

"We want to make sure there will be a minimal level of severe rules applying everywhere," Coiteux said.

"I don't want to leave the situation as it is right now where every city has the right to have one rule or another."

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