I am a veterinarian and have been practicing in the Plateau, Montreal for 13 years. I am also a mother of a four-year-old boy.
It was only 5 years ago that Montrealers were horrified to learn of the heinous and unethical treatment of animals at the Berger Blanc – the for profit pound that still currently serves boroughs in the city. An undercover investigation showed animals suffering euthanasia by lay people, performing acts that only veterinarians are legally allowed to perform. Worse was shown: abuse, living animals dumped into bins with dead animals. It also documented the lack of oversight by municipalities as they allowed the Berger Blanc to work, unmonitored, unsupervised and illegally. As a veterinarian, I advised the producers and directors on the investigative report of the Berger Blanc Mauvais Berger, 2011. (Enquête, Radio Canada). �
Throughout the past 5 years, there has been no great advance in the way the city of Montreal handles animal control. There is a planned municipally funded facility to be opened far beyond the date originally projected. Licensing of all animals remains poorly understood by owners (they often ask me what are they getting in return for the license and I explain the theory behind licensing and the way in which it will eventually support a better funded municipal animal care system – or so one should hope). It has been hard to explain to pet owners what they receive in exchange for this fee, since there has been little offered in return by the city. Not to mention that, licensing, along with all other components of animal control by-laws, has been poorly enforced by the city.
Simply, if licensing were enforced, there would be a centralized record of pets, addresses and owner identity.
Every complaint could be added to the database with clarity. Each license would pay into the system. A centralized bank of information would go a long way to following up on any dog on human incidence of aggression. At the moment, few dogs come into my clinic come in wearing a municipal dog tag. The system isn’t being funded by the users. And, why should citizens have any interest in licensing their dog – especially if they think that this licensing will then be used by the city to potentially target their dog? What are people getting from the city in return other than punitive legislation that will punish responsible dog owners and do little to prevent dog bites and the underlying behaviours that cause dogs to be aggressive in the first place?
We do not need more back yard breeders or puppy mills producing more animals for an already overloaded care system that is operating on the benevolence of the (human) population.
Seeing in the Journal de Montreal this weekend that Pierre Couture of the Berger Blanc is happy to offer his services gives me great pause. Since different municipalities are still contracting with the Berger Blanc, I certainly expect that proper investigations are being made to ensure Montrealers that all measures for animal welfare are respected.
Clearly, Montreal needs a constructive approach to public safety as it concerns canines; that has been researched and thought out. Mayor Coderre, I call upon you to please delay the date on which imminent legislation comes into effect. Legislation which unfairly targets dogs that happen to look a specific way. There is an opportunity to positively impact public safety, let’s sit down and review the science, the facts and speak to the actual experts and do it right.
Public safety is paramount. I recently heard on the news that Dr Barry Pless, a Montreal paediatric surgeon’s experience has been that “pit bull type dogs” represent the majority of the dog traumas he sees.
First, any dog bite of any human is unacceptable. I hope every one of those dogs was followed by the municipality to see that appropriate action was taken (assessment, veterinary visit, euthanasia, etc). Second, with all due respect to Dr. Pless, he has no expertise or ability to make determinations about dog breeds. I am a veterinarian, with far more experience and expertise on this issue and I recently participated in the simple experiment of looking at a poster of 12 dogs and was asked to identify the 3 of the 12 that were pitt bull/pitt pull mixes. I failed 100%. In my clinic, about 20-30% of the dogs we see could potentially be considered “pitt bull type dogs” – but really any dog with a large head, short hair and muscular body could be subject to the punitive measures in the proposed by-law – and who exactly will be making this determination? Certainly not by me, a professional with 13 years of veterinary practice behind me and 5 years of professional training – I nor no one else can visually identify a dog’s breed simply by looking at them.
Take the test now? pick the pit?…. Pick the pit bull
I know that the Montreal SPCA have tried to offer their expertise to you and council. Your government is in partnership with them, and they take over 15,000 animals a year from our city.
I wish your government had sought their council because they deal with dogs day in and day out and have been doing so for over 150 years . It has been proposed that Quebec could divert dogs to other provinces, as Ontario has apparently done. I don’t follow the logic. Will we be shipping out Quebec dogs that are considered potentially dangerous for other provinces to deal with, or are the dogs not really potentially dangerous at all? If dogs identified as ‘pit-bulls’ cannot be adopted at shelters, then you and your government will be condemning them to death –
please be clear on this.
I suggest the entire issue requires a better plan, than what is being proposed. This legislation snuck in quietly during lazy summer vacations, a fact that doesn’t sit right with me. The OMVQ and provincial task force presented to the Minister of Public Security, evidence and contributions with a resounding response that BSL is not recommended. Human safety is central here, so why not respect professional research and scientific data, and enforce meaningful bylaws that will truly reduce harm? If I can be of any service please don’t hesitate to contact me, and please let us stop with the fear and panic – and actually do something to better protect the people and animals of Montreal.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Judith Weissmann, DVM 3237