Montreal pit bull ban demonizes dogs, violates animal rights

Credit: Gowri Sunder/ Credit: Gowri Sunder/
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This past Wednesday, a judge in Montreal struck down a ban on pit bulls. The ban would have halted the adoption of pit bulls, and required current pit bull owners to obtain a $150 permit and muzzle their dogs outdoors, even in their own back yards, and require them to keep their dogs on a four foot leash in public. The owners themselves would also have to undergo criminal background checks. This ban on pit bulls is a result of the stigmatization of these amazing dogs and a violation of animal rights.

While many today perceive pit bulls as aggressive, uncontrollable dogs, this assumption could not be further from the truth. In fact, from 1900 until the 1980s, there was only one national news story that dealt with a pit bull attacking a human. This “attack” was man setting a pack of 26 dogs on a young woman. Many articles have arose in both the United States and Canada since the 1980s, but this has to do with the rise in dog fighting, and not pit bulls themselves.

In fact, the definition of pit bulls doesn’t define a singular breed. Rather, it refers to the American Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The misinformation on pit bulls doesn’t end here, it only begins. Many believe that pit bull aggression is genetic, but aggression in pit bulls is a product of their environment.

Pit bulls do have a genetic composition to be more aggressive to other dog breeds, though not to humans, but this aggression can be curtailed with responsible dog ownership. Pit bulls prior to the ‘80s were known as a devoted, caring breed.

This exact reasoning is what led to the initial suspension of the ban. While the ban was in response to the tragic death of a 55-year-old woman who was mauled by a dog that first responders described as a pit bull, it was rushed by legislators and clearly aimed specifically at pit bulls as a breed and not as the factors that turn dogs into dangers. The ban violates these animals’ rights, and treats them as monsters instead of the loving animals that they actually are.

Instead of banning pit bulls, legislators can focus their attention of advocating for responsible dog ownership. Pit bulls are far from being the only breed to show aggressive behavior, and awareness for responsible dog ownership will be far more beneficial than furthering the stigmatization of a loving, caring dog breed.