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?”[1], 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”[2], 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.

 

Work Cited

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.

 



 

 

 

Comments

At first I was attracted by your text because the subject is a very interesting subject. It is part of our actuality and also part of a very important discussion that society should have. We live in a society were equality is prone and discrimination is trying to disappear. I strongly believe what you said by saying that discriminating will not solve any further problems. I believe that it would create more problems because there will probably still be dog attacks and it will create a situation where we will have to ban almost every ban. A dog that bites it often only protecting himself or his owner, after all dogs are men's best friends. The owners are the ones that did the wrong thing here because they are not able to control their animals. I know it will sound extreme but I believe that banning pit bulls would be the same thing as if we started to ban an ethnicity just because they tend to have people amongst them that do more terrorist attacks than other ethnicity. This would be unfair to the hole ethnicity just because a couple of them did the wrong thing we would blame all of them and keep them out of our province. Would that be right and approved? Probably not and this is why I believe that we should see animals as equal to humans. Should we treat pit bulls in a way that we would not like to be treated?

Your text does well to adjust on both sides, and to question the present situation. The ban on pitbulls was caused by the massive uproar, which put pressure on the mayor to act rapidly. However, unless there is clear evidence, we should not ban specific breeds. I think we should emphasize the owner's role in the accident that happened, rather than the dog itself. In that fatal case that led to the ban, the owner had already known that his dog was overly aggressive, but never acted upon it. (http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/pitbull-that-killed-montreal-woman-had-atta...) So I think the new ban is unjustified and immoral at its base. Now, how much is the owner of the dog that killed the 55 year-old woman responsible for the incident?

Your text provides the reader with a clear understanding of both sides of the debate. I believe banning a specific dog breed and proceeding to euthanasia is some form of genocide. Genocide is defined as the systematic and planned annihilation of a certain group by authority as the aimed group is defined by its perpetrator. Authorities are defining what dogs are ''dangerous'' based on a few events. Some might agree that comparing the mass euthanasia of dogs with genocide is radically exaggerated, however as a vegan, I do not feel like human beings deserve life more than other species. Any dog can be dangerous. However if well trained and taken care of, pitbulls don't necessarily represent that much of a danger. If attacks keep being reported, measures should be taken (i.e.: muzzles). I believe that there is no valuable reason to support mass euthanasia of an animal species. Like I said, dogs' behaviour reflect how their owner raised them. Does this make owner's partly responsible for these attacks?

Your text is very interesting since it's a subject that seriously touched Quebec this summer. You presented really well both sides of the debate. I also think that it is not the solution to discriminate Pit Bulls. I was raised in a family where dogs are part of the family. I believe that to ban Pit Bulls is a lazy solution. The real problem is not the breed of the dog but the owner's behaviour. The government should not generalize the situation and should pay attention to dog owners. Are dog owners not enough skilled to train dogs?