The Case For Breed Specific Legislation In Montreal

The Case For Breed Specific Legislation In Montreal

In 2016 on the Toronto beaches, a woman and her pit bull/mastiff cross dog were attacked by a pit bull urged on by a man who wanted to see the two dogs fight. Technically both dogs should have been muzzled under the Dog Owners Liability Act in Ontario. The aggressor took off with his dog leaving the woman to deal with her injuries. (Photo Global News)

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In the last two years,  nearly 20 people and animals were injured or killed by pit bull type dogs in the province of Quebec.  Pit bull type dogs have inflicted a disproportionate number of serious bites and maulings to people, pets and livestock.  Multiple sources – independent, retrospective and/or longitudinal studies available on National Institute of Health databases, opinions of reconstructive surgeons, epidemiologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, insurance companies, and trauma units all arrive at the same conclusions.

The debates occurring as a result of the BSL legislation passed in Montreal and Quebec might lead the casual observer to conclude that the ban (but apparently not the maulings) is the greatest social problem in the entirety of the province.  In reality, the requirements of the ban are not unreasonable; the Montreal and Quebec legislation still guarantees rights of current pit bull owners provided they adhere to the licensing, muzzling, neuter/spay, and leash regulations. Opponents to Montreal’s BSL regs usually cite the “Calgary Model” as the ideal success story of responsible dog ownership – a model they believe that Montreal councilors should have implemented instead.  Calgary may not have banned pit bulls outright, but the program is not a sweeping success. Even with a potential $10,000 fine, serious dog bites continued to increase in the city.

Rafah Bakour of Calgary in a family photo. She was attacked by a pit bull while walking. The attack is categorized as a Level 5, just below the most severe type — Level 6 — which results in death. Even if the dog owner receives a maximum fine of $10,000 under the Calgary system, that money will not go towards Bakour’s injuries and will not indemnify her.

Before his retirement, Head of Bylaw Services (which includes animal control) Bill Bruce became well known for Calgary’s pet management “success.”  Indeed, there were many positive aspects of the model and pet registration itself was phenomenally successfully relative to registration rates elsewhere.  Bruce however, maintained that in other jurisdictions breed bans did not reduce “the overall number of bites in the community.” If he were actually expecting to reduce bites, Bruce would have to ban all dogs, since all dogs of all sizes and breeds will bite and this fact is not in dispute.  Breed bans cannot stop all bites and are not designed to – the goal is to reduce the most statistically significant bites – maulings and fatalities, while balancing the rights of other people and animal owners for relative safety.

The late Dr. Sophia Yin is referenced in the Calgary SPCA Report in their 6 level bite system. You may also refer to Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale.

In 2004, the last full year before BSL was implemented in Ontario, there were 984 licensed pit bulls in the city and 168 reported bites. By comparison, in 2013 there were 501 pit bulls registered in Toronto, and just 13 bites. Yet in Calgary, the numbers show the real failure of the system – dog attacks in Calgary went from 58 in 2009 to 201 in 2014, a disproportionate number of them by pit bulls. Most concerning of all is that the severity of bites has increased – in Calgary in 2014, there were 244 dog bites of a Level 3 severity or higher. This is an increase over 2013, when 198 bites were reported at, or exceeding, Level 3.

Bill Bruce also had a serious conflict of interest while at Bylaw Services – he was an advisor to the National Canine Research Council (NCRC), an American lobby group that is funded by the Animal Farm Foundation, who promote the concept of a pit bull in every home, over and above any other breed of dog. The fact that Bruce was aligned with the NCRC means that pit bulls would very likely receive favourable and preferential treatment over people, other pets, and livestock while he was in charge.


Bruce’s successor, Ryan Jeslin, Calgary’s current director of Animal and Bylaw Services had a different view of the animal control model he inherited:

“I’m very concerned about pit bulls and Rottweilers. There’s a history, there’s a reason why places like the city of Toronto have banned them outright,”  After a series of attacks by pit bull type dogs in 2015,  Jeslin went on to say, “The evidence clearly here is about pit bulls. That specific breed has caused real damage over the last five days.”

Except for the focus on pit bull type dogs,  there are actually many commonalities between the Montreal/Quebec legislation and recommendations for safer communities proposed by SPCAs:

Key Points in the Montreal and Quebec  Bylaw/Bill

Montreal: By-Law 16-060

“Pit bull-type dog” is defined as being:

  • a dog belonging to the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or Staffordshire bull terrier race [breed];
  • a dog born of a crossbreeding between one of the races [breeds] mentioned in paragraph (1) and another dog;
  • a dog showing several morphological traits of the races [breeds] and types of crossbreeding listed in paragraphs (1) and (2)

Licenses will be issued for Pit bull-type dogs if the following conditions are met:

No it isn’t “dog racism.” This is a straw man argument. Dogs have historically been bred for different functions desired by man.
Despite the escalation of deaths and maulings, legislators are being bullied by advocacy groups into protecting the “breed” rights as opposed to public safety.
People discriminate against breeds all the time when choosing one type of dog over another.

  • the first application is filed before December 31, 2016
  • the applicant provides proof that the dog has been sterilized or a written opinion from a veterinary surgeon establishing that the animal cannot be sterilized;
  • the applicant provides proof that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies and  proof of follow-ups, as applicable, at the city’s request;
  • the applicant provides proof that the dog has a microchip;
  • the applicant provides a certificate of negative search of a criminal record or, in the case of a certificate of positive search of a criminal record, a certificate issued by the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal confirming that the applicant has not  been declared guilty, in the five years prior to the date of filing or renewal of the licence application, of an offence under a provision listed in schedule 1 of this by-law;
  • the applicant is 18 years of age or older;
  • the applicant provides a document indicating that:
    • at the date of coming into force of this by-law, the applicant was the owner of the dog referred to in this application;
    • the applicant is a resident of a city borough where, under the by-laws applicable up until the date of coming into force of this by-law, it was possible to obtain a licence to keep a Pit bull-type dog

When outside, the dog guardians must ensure that the dogs are:

  • Muzzled at all times
  • Kept on a leash no longer than 1.25m, except in an exercise area or in an area closed off by a fence at least 2 m high
  • Under the supervision of a person 18 years of age or older
  • Displaying the tag issued by the city with the special licence

Charges for offences range from $300 to $4000.

Quebec Bill 128 – An Act to Promote the Protection of Persons by Establishing a Framework with Regard to Dogs. 

The Bill makes it obligatory for veterinarians to report dog related injuries.Veterinary surgeons are also required to report, to the municipality concerned, any dog that they have reasonable cause to believe constitutes a risk for public health or safety. In cases where a dog has inflicted injury on a person, physicians are required to report the fact to the local municipality concerned without delay, and communicate the seriousness of the injury and, if known, the breed or type of dog that inflicted it. The local municipality may also declare a dog that has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal and inflicted injury potentially dangerous

Dangerous dogs:

In the case of a dog that has bitten or attacked a person and caused death or serious injury, the local municipality must order the dog’s owner or custodian to have the dog euthanized.

Dogs that are deemed to be potentially dangerous:

(1) pit bulls, including American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers;

(2) Rottweilers;

(3) a crossbreed of a dog listed in paragraph 1 or 2 and another dog;

(4) hybrid dogs that are a cross between a dog and a canid other than a dog; and

(5) dogs trained to protect, guard, fight or attack


For more detail, please read:


Montreal BSL



Quebec Bill 128



With a few exceptions, BSL in Montreal satisfies these requirements.  The Quebec Bill 128 also makes it mandatory for veterinarians to report dog bites that are a concern for public safety. Doctors must also report appropriately. And if BSL is too expensive, why are these proposals, many of which require a level of government to administer, considered more cost-effective?


The catalyst for the Montreal and Quebec legislation seems to lie with Franklin Junior Frontal’s aptly named dog “Lucifer” – a dog he had owned since puppyhood – a dog who ultimately

Photo and caption from the “Muzzle-Up Project” on Facebook.
“Would you rather kill me than see me like this?
My mum had someone tell her they would rather put a bullet in their dog’s head than put a muzzle on them. That upset my mum a lot. Do I look unhappy? Do I look like I’m lacking anything in life? Wearing a muzzle allows me to experience more of life. It helps me feel more confident, it helps my mum feel less stressed, and allows people to pat and cuddle me without anyone worrying that I might bite them.
Wearing a muzzle doesn’t make a dog a bad dog. It might mean they’ve made a mistake, or they might make a mistake if others don’t listen and push them over their limits. Wearing a muzzle means they have a responsible owner who is committed to preventing accidents and worse case scenarios.
If only people were less ignorant, their dogs could live better lives.”

killed Montreal resident Christiane Vadnais in 2016.  According to his lawyer, Frontal had approached the SPCA in the past  for help in dealing with the dog’s aggression and behavior problems.  Pit bull activists have long questioned whether the dog that killed Vadnais was in fact a pit bull, because it had been registered as a boxer. Despite these claims, a veterinarian confirmed that the dog that attacked and killed the victim was indeed a pit bull and not a boxer.

Public health decisions are not always made on the basis of the number of people negatively impacted.  The population in question can be large as the inhabitants of several continents (as in the case of a pandemic) or as small as a few individuals.   For instance, over 2 million baby cribs were recalled in 2009 after “only” 4 infant deaths.  BSL demands a phase-out of breeding and importation, and the dogs must be on a short leash and muzzled when appearing in public. These are reasonable, logical and ethical measures and not entirely dissimilar from what the Montreal SPCA has proposed as an “alternative” to BSL.

People who care about dogs won’t care that they can’t import or breed more pit bulls.  They can go to the shelter, Petfinder, or many other rescues on Facebook and choose to help a dog that is sitting on death row, which is far more ethical than breeding or importing (and ultimately euthanizing) more prohibited dogs into the province.

Accused of second degree murder, this Hamilton, Ontario resident who is a self-acknowledged former dog fighter, is shown with a pit bull, a banned dog in Ontario. Under Montreal’s BSL by-law, anyone convicted of a criminal offence within the 5 year period preceeding the license application would not be granted a license for a pit bull type dog.
The accused was also quoted about pit bulls in this 2013 article –


About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic plant-based eater, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

8 responses »

  1. I’m going to stick my neck out here. Where’s the data on All other Bites from All breeds? What were the conditions during her artack? Was she yelling, running away, fearful, or as most people do standing and fighting with the owners behavior not paying attention to his dog? Not saying she brought it on, but asking the key questions not outlined. Next, the general propaganda is in accordance with horse slaughter of course the rule breakers enjoy courtship with filmmakers that provide leaneancy yet no one prior tried to remove him from this position to make decisions. Banning the breed means A LOT OF them will be killed or off to another city or location to do more damage in illequipped hands. What needs to occur is a system set up like the Pit Bull Parole Program in the USA. A way to channel issues through the hands of knowledgeable people and find them a much better outcome. Pits restricted to Only a single litter if the litter is to make a gentler dog in the outcome not bred to more aggressive stronger dogs. Restricting the type of owners who can own, house them would reduce issues drastically. After 1 litter is produced a mandatory spay program except on show and exceptional dogs must be enacted. Preservation and breeding for more calm and happy healthy dogs is necessary to overall change their outlook. Stopping breeding does not change the Current issues. Fight dogs are bred and raised to fight then offspring sold so reverse the Issues by specific breeding for the genetically calmer quieter most ascetic personalities then your on to something. As for the bites increase and decrease, instead of financial penalties, do extreme measures, put the bites down instantly, punish the abuser by suspending their drivers license or Banning them from any personal activities for a couple of years, set some real boundries, ban them entirely from animal ownership if their dog bites a d it could be prevented. Quit making it a fine they can walk out on. Especially if they just don’t care. You reduce the number of people ALLOWED to have ownership in any community and make it where they have to apply to own and prepay a 10,000 fine ahead into an account in case of personal injury you’ll reduce ownership drastically. That’s my honest opinion. My exbrotherinlaw bred pits and as far as he was concerned only 3 or 4 people really understand what these dogs are for and what they can do. They were Never meant for fighting it was trained and mongoloid bred into them. They were majestic family dogs used to protect sheep and herds from wolf’s just like Rottties during war times. It’s never the Dog it’s only the people.

    • Another note my brother in law made people pass a mental evaluation to get a dog plus he background screened them for arrest records, then he evaluated their finances and made them show proof of all income, proof of Veterinarian, talked to the local law enforcement before approving them. They had to go through a 90 day dog handler program at least 4 days a week or NO dog. They had to go into dog training classes and if they did not keep their classes at least 10 in 3 months they were unable to own the dog. A notice was mailed to Animal Control transferring ownership andvalerting them to dogs new owner and location. If owner was to move relocate or die he was right there to interrogate what happens next. He quit breeding after 15 yrs and Never had a single dog bite on his record. But every dog had a routine, daily turnout, play time, several caretakers and frequent home checks and Animal Control gave him an award for his dogs perservearance. He bred only for calm, quiet, passive dogs with brilliant colors. Most people Never got to pass the first part of this 6 month evaluation. That made him more proud than anything. One word on an old board is painted over the kennel door….Responsibility. Encompassing the truth. Clyde Jr. Still hugs every human being he sees within eyesight and waffles his tail… ex brother in law worries for the Entire Rest of his beloved breed as he scratches his one remaining pit, Jr. One word he says…..Clyde….Responsibility.

    • She was walking her child to school down a public street when the dog attacked. Some pit bull promoters blamed her also because she might have been wearing a hijab or other religious garb that “fluttered” thereby stimulating the dog. Either way, it’s still victim-blaming. The owner was not responsible, left her on the street with her injuries and ran away.

      The average pit bull breeder is a back-yard hobbyist, like a horse breeding hobbyist. They don’t know anything about genetics but think that because they like their dog, there should be more of them. Locally here, we have some forums and boards where pit bull owners often advertise “my girl needs a boyfriend this weekend.” So clearly, with adverts like that, there is no thought given to screening for gentleness. Some people even seek aggressiveness.

      We don’t need any litters of dogs – over a million pit bulls are euthanized every year in the US. And who would administer programs to control how many times dogs had litters?

      Pit bulls wouldn’t make particularly good livestock guardians – they are a major cause of death for livestock – horses, sheep and goats. My horse was chased by a pit bull and my friend’s horse had his lower lip nearly ripped off in an attack, so no, I would never trust them to guard livestock. Not like these dogs:

      • There is No such thing as backyard breeding in small animals. That’s used incorrectly. The fact is that reference was livestock only. It’s also Not a putdown. Backyard breeders were actually Professionals who bred livestock successfully not loosely. Advocates used proslaughters version of backyard breeding as a put down. As far as what I said it Only restricted breeding and if you read Entirely it also said Only people who Improve the dogs could ever have a litter ie show or upper line breeders restricted to One litter so no more popular breeding. As for getting upset with me. I’m not the enemy. I didn’t and do not own pit bulls. It’s coming to a point where if you read you have to Punish people. As for the woman I just asked questions regarding the attack. Law enforcement has to be party to the correction as well. While I sympathize with your point I also feel that true caretakers of this breed shouldn’t be punished but if they are required to post 10,000 Upfront before Owning one and that’s each dog, less people woyuld be eligible for ownership to begin with. That’s All I’m saying. As for Livestock attacks I had a boxer and a cocker spaniel owned by a neighbor attack my horses. It’s not a breed do a breed trait. Most have been bred to Fight I already agreed however, all dogs including kenneled and professionally raised are essentially back yard breeding by true sense. Again backyard breeding was Only livestock in Reference designated by AQHA in 1981 to Describe All Small Professional farms under 100 acres as Backyard Breeders. This was simply to appease hateful ranchers. They Never said or referenced any as Poor quality breeders. Horse SLAUGHTER leader Dave Duquette In 2007 was quoted as blaming backyard breeding for overpopulation. Then Advocates ran rampant. Backyard breeding as Advocates mean it rudely is actually where Dave Duquette misspoke intentionally….your referencing hoarders. You can be a hoarder or 3 if they are not cared for and breed themselves each year, that is Not backyard breeding. AQHA Officially apologized and Corrected this in 2008 yet Advocates have repeatedly with AT misused it. Hoarders are Not breeders, puppy mills are Not breeders, abusers are not breeders and All Small animals are not eligible to be called back yard breeding That is Hoarding/milling/abusing. As for this woman, I hope they receive justice. As for the offender change the rules so he has to put up 10,000 for each out ahead of being able to have a license. Punish the crime correctly.

      • We really do have such a thing as backyard breeding with dogs which is not that dissimilar from backyard breeding with horses. Usually it’s a puppy mill type of operation. Here’s some references:

        “The back yard breeder is the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation. Back yard breeders usually do not have bad intentions, but the results of back yard breeding are devastating.The majority of homeless or abandoned dogs come from this category in many popular breeds and mixes, they are often destroyed in pounds. Most are sold locally through newspaper ads – the responsibility ends when the purchaser’s taillights disappear from sight. Many back yard breeders do not have the knowledge to properly raise a healthy, socialized litter, or to help the new owner with any problems that might arise.

        Back yard breeders may act on a desire to make extra money, or simply out of ignorance. Sometimes back yard breeders will breed so “their children can experience the miracle of birth”, or they mistakenly believe “every dog should have one litter.” They may think their dog is so cute, he/she would make wonderful puppies, with little or no thought for the homes to which their puppies will go. Other back yard breeders see how much money legitimate breeders charge for pups and figure they could make some “easy money” too. Or, a back yard breeder may have a completely unplanned litter by accident.

        Back yard breeders usually bring two breeding animals together regardless of their quality. They are not interested in scientific breeding. Their aim is to fulfill a personal need or goal, not to improve the breed and bring excellent quality dogs to the world. Since breed excellence is generally unimportant, the breeding dogs generally will not have been tested for genetic and health problems.

        Back yard breeders are not necessarily bad people, they often come from middle to upper income families, and their dogs can be well loved and kept. However, getting a pup from a back yard breeder is a gamble:

        the parents likely have not been screened for health problems
        puppies usually are not sold with contracts and no future support to the buyer
        the breeders are not in it for the long haul
        They will be working on new personal objectives in five years when your pet has a problem and you need help.”

        This article further defines the difference between high volume puppymill operations and “backyard breeders”

  2. I must point out that the actual “Calgary model” for animal care & control was NOT the model that Bill Bruce introduced. The original “Calgary model” was introduced and enforced by Bruce’s predecessor Jerry Aschenbrenner, who directed Calgary Animal Services for 29 years. His major departure from conventional animal care & control was promoting incentive-based licensing, which boosted licensing compliance from the conventional range of less than 25% to an unheard of 80%-plus. This was done by making licensing inexpensive, & instead of trying to raise the animal control budget through license sales (which hardly any jurisdiction ever even approaches doing), trying to cut animal control costs by replacing expensive impoundments with free rides home for licensed dogs found running at large, IF the dogs had no bite history. I visited Calgary, profiled Calgary Animal Services, and made the “Calgary model” well known throughout the animal are & control community internationally just before Aschenbrenner retired in 2000, which happened to be many years before the pit bull population and pit bull attacks exploded as they have post-Michael Vick. Bruce then practically dismantled Aschenbrenner’s whole system, in favor of jacking up licensing fees and reinstituting high impoundment fees, which tend to become disincentives for low-income people to reclaim lost pets. When Nathan Winograd promoted the “Calgary model” in his 2007 book Redemption, it was entirely from paraphrasing my 2000 article, not from any personal direct knowledge of his own. Mindless promotion of the “Calgary model,” which was entirely about licensing, impound procedures, & cost management, and had NOTHING to do with bite response or attack prevention, has proceeded from there.

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