The court orders the killing of pit bulls without expert recommendation

The municipality can demand it when it considers an animal to be potentially dangerous, the court maintains

Posted at 19.00

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The press

Although an owner does everything in his power to keep his dog, the municipality can kill it if it deems it dangerous, without having to provide an analysis of the animal’s behavior. This was confirmed by a recent judgment of the Superior Court, which ordered the euthanasia of a pit bull, not without recalling the many debates that took place in the metropolis on the subject.

“A dog can be declared potentially dangerous as soon as there is a bite with injury to a person or animal without the need for any behavioral expertise,” ruled Judge Pierre Nollet, who ordered the killing of the dog. pitbull a few weeks ago. The law stipulates that a city “must order” euthanasia in the event of death or serious injury.

You must go back to October 2020 to fully understand this story. At the time, Montrealer Danielle Bastien was walking with her two dogs: Mira, a pit bull dog, and Rover, an American dingo. At one point, the two suddenly and “for no apparent reason” attacked Watson, a smaller dog who was also walking his owner.

The court papers read that Watson suffered “bites in the back and head” and that his owner also “kept superficial injuries to his hands while trying to protect Watson”. The attacked dog was hospitalized for two days.

A complaint to SPVM

In the following days, a complaint was lodged with the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), which led to the city shortly after declaring Mira “dangerous to public safety” and ordering her euthanasia. Rover, meanwhile, was considered “potentially dangerous” and subject to restrictions.

Mme Bastien then challenged the city’s decision before the Supreme Court, claiming that the municipality “did not do so[avait] disregard the evidence “and that the consulted expert in animal behavior” does not [suggérait pas] active euthanasia “. Two fashion experts produced by Montrealer did not recommend it either, as they assessed the animal’s danger level lower.

The municipality then replied that “it [n’était] not required that she receive a recommendation for euthanasia from a veterinarian “and that” Mira’s level of danger [justifiait] decision to kill him.

In his analysis, the judge ruled that the city of Montreal “did not err in its assessment or finding of facts”, in part because of Mira’s background. In 2016, she had actually already bitten another dog, named Sherlock, who had entered her yard. Sherlock belonged to the same owner as Watson, and also suffered some serious injuries. Earlier, Mira had also on two occasions attacked another of the dogs belonging to Danielle Bastien, as well as one of her cats. In all, the owner says she witnessed five assaults from her pit bull.

In 2018-2019, 24 dogs were killed by order of the municipality. However, this number has dropped sharply since, with 9 in 2020, 6 in 2021 and only one so far in 2022. A spokeswoman for the municipality, Camille Bégin, explains that “various elements” can lead to an evacuation, including bites, attacks on other animals or aggressive behavior of a dog nearby. Montreal says it focuses on “creating awareness” first by offering dog training workshops.

A long debate

The debates over the ban (or not) of pit bulls do not originate from yesterday in Montreal. In 2017, Denis Coderre had campaigned to ban this breed of dog in the wake of Christiane Vadnais’ death, who had been killed by a pit bull dog a year before, in 2016. However, he admitted last fall when he tried to be re-elected , that it was a “mistake”.

As soon as she came to power in 2017, Mayor Valérie Plante overturned that decision, and her party reaffirmed that “we must not legislate on race”.

In the provincial government, Philippe Couillard’s Liberals had promised to “ban pit bull-type dogs” before changing their minds. In 2019, the Legault government presented its draft rules on dangerous dogs, which impose certain guidelines, such as wearing a harness for dogs weighing 20 kg or more in public. Without targeting breeds, the regulation imposes mandatory registration of each animal and fines of up to $ 20,000 for defaulters.

With Louis-Samuel Perron, The press

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