The city council of Montreal, Canada, has passed a controversial pit bull ban with a 37-23 vote in favor of changes to the city’s animal control bylaw, which will ban the new ownership of pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs.
According to CBC, the bill, which was original supposed to come to a vote in 2018, was moved up after a woman was fatally attacked by a dog in Montreal. The attacking dog was identified as a pit bull, but police are still waiting on DNA tests to come back to support these claims.
The new measure will go into effect starting on Oct. 3 in all of the city’s 19 boroughs. This ban applies to Staffordshire bull terriers, American bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, mixes of these breeds and any dog who presents characteristics of these breeds.
Those in Montreal who already own one of the banned dogs will have to obtain a special permit for their pet by Dec. 31. This permit can be passed on to a family member or spouse, in case the owner of the dog dies before their pet.
The bylaw also created the categories of “at-risk” and “dangerous,” which can be applied to all dogs in the city. “At risk” is for canines who have bitten someone or exhibited other aggressive behaviors, and “dangerous” is meant for dogs who have killed a human or have been dubbed dangerous by an expert.
“No matter what, if your dog is dangerous, we will be able to act accordingly,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre told CBC.
The ability to ban dog breeds and euthanize those deemed as dangerous is considered an important step by supporters, who see the new bylaw as a way of putting the lives and safety of humans before dogs.
Many others are outraged by the vote and believe the ban will only cause larger issues down the line, while also endangering countless dogs and diminishing the owner’s responsibility for incidents. Numerous animal rights advocates and legal experts in Canada and across the globe are speaking out on the dangerous flaws in the ban and how similar legislation in other cities has been repealed.
“We all want safe and humane communities for people and pets. Breed discriminatory ordinances fail to enhance public safety, are expensive to enforce and violate the rights of responsible dog owners,” Ledy VanKavage, the Sr. Legislative Attorney for Best Friends Animal Society, an American animal welfare organization, told PEOPLE in a statement. “The Montreal ban focuses on the wrong thing — the focus should be on the behavior of the dog and the behavior of the owner. Innocent pets shouldn’t be killed for being born the wrong breed. Responsible pet owners who follow the right safety rules should be able to own whatever of breed of dog they choose — it’s that simple.”
In response to the ban, the Montreal SPCA has threatened to end its dog control services. A Montreal-based coalition of lawyers and animal behavior experts, who openly oppose the ban, plan to move forward with a court challenge they had prepared in case the new discriminatory legislation was voted through.