Montreal’s Breed-Specific Ban: Animal Discrimination?
by Stephanielevesque on September 12, 2016 - 9:55pm
Attacked and killed by a dog, back in June, Christiane Vadnais’ death triggered a yet to be settled debate concerning a breed-specific ban in Quebec. In effect, Quebec City Mayor Lebeaume and Montreal mayor Coderre declared pit bulls and similar dog breeds too dangerous to be accepted among citizens. Moreover, Quebec Premier Couillard has declared that the province may soon follow Ontario’s lead: a complete ban on Pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers. The uproar that swept across Quebec in light of recent events has brought many authors to discuss the pros and cons of such regulations. Jonathan Montpetit, author of “Is Banning Pit Bulls Moral?”, is one among many who believe that animals are entitled to the same rights as humans.
First of all, Montpetit explains that those in favour of the ban believe that the loss of pit bulls will greatly diminish the potential for future dog attacks, injuries and innocent deaths. Therefore, one would consider that Quebec’s political leaders are acting for the greater good. In other words, the author states that pit bulls, as well as similar dog types, could be compared to guns and weapons; left unregulated and unsupervised, they can be life threatening. As such, especially when considering Vadnais’ family after the tragedy, many would choose to value human life, family and security above all else. Also, when ‘potential’ danger could be altogether avoided, some think that leashes, harnesses and muzzles are just not enough to prevent harm. In this case, the prevalent moral claim would be to avoid doing any harm. As pit bulls have been deemed more “likely to initiate unprovoked attacks, and […] inflict the most serious wounds”, officials have concluded that some pit bull owners are just no responsible enough to take upon such responsibilities, and that everyone’s security and interests must be considered, not just the owners’.
However, Jonathan Montpetit argues that there is an inherent moral issue behind the breed-specific ban. Most importantly, if Montreal decides to go forth with its decision, will it end up with similar results ad Ontario? In effect, the province has “banned pit bulls more than a decade ago, but statistics show dog bites in Toronto have increased”. Ontario is letting the breed die out, whilst euthanizing many imported puppies every year, making sure no illegal adoptions happen. In other words, Ontario has not found a solution, and they are now putting down perfectly healthy dogs, most of which could be great family pets. As a society, Montpetit states, we have a responsibility towards our animals, as one would have towards their own child. Sanctity of life does not only hold for humans, but for all Life. This is why the Montreal SPCA will back down form some of its ‘canine’ duties if the ban is applied. Morally, why would politicians protect the citizens, but sacrifice harmless puppies? Furthermore, no being can be deemed inherently dangerous and put down, based on the simple fact that it looks like a pit bull. If this principle were applied to a human, it would be called discrimination. Dogs are not evil creatures, they will act on instinct, and its upbringing, its owner and environment affect that. Montpetit compares this to parenting, because children must be brought up to integrate society. By respecting people’s autonomy, the province should allow responsible owners to keep and continue to love the breed, because one should value equality. Should the majority suffer because of one irresponsible owner? As Jonathan Montpetit concludes, altogether banning a loving, beautiful breed would only end up as being the easy way out.
In conclusion, there are no words to say how tragic the attacks that have led to casualties are. However, how is the mass killing of family dogs and the punishment of innocent owners a solution to the problem? Applying drastic laws, discriminating breeds and ignoring these dogs’ right to live are not improving the situation. Ontario’s ‘dog bites and injuries’ statistics prove this. Instead, educate dog owners on their responsibilities and duties. Other measures such as sterilization, vaccines, microchips, steeper fines, muzzles and dog parks could help better control dog populations and regulations. Our pets have the right to healthy, happy lives, without harm. If you value sanctity of life, then why should the greater good apply only to society, while pit bulls are left behind? In a society where acquiring drugs, alcohol and guns could be easier than abortion and dog adoptions, why is discrimination the easy way out? Where do you draw the line? How are ‘dangerous’ individuals determined? Or ‘potentially’ dangerous individuals? The pets we decide to take care of become family members, and are entitled to the same basic rights given to our loved ones.
1. Montpetit, Jonathan. “Is Banning Pit Bulls Moral?” CBC News, 16 Jun. 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-montreal-pit-bull-bans-moral-questions-1.3642590. Accessed 12 September 2016.
2. Hinkson, Kamila. “Montreal to Overhaul Rules on 'Dangerous Dogs'.” CBC News, 20 May 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-dangerous-dog-rules-1.3591208. Accessed 12 September 2016.