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A First Victory! The Superior Court Orders a Stay of the Montreal By-Law’s Provisions Targeting “Pit Bull Type Dogs”

spca-lawyers_cbc2Montreal, October 5th 2016 – Today, the honourable Judge Louis Gouin of the Quebec Superior Court rendered his decision in the lawsuit opposing the Montreal SPCA and the City of Montreal concerning the new animal control by-law. Agreeing with the Montreal SPCA, he ordered the suspension of the sections of the by-law targeting certain breeds, namely those prohibiting the adoption of “pit bull type dogs” and requiring these dogs to be muzzled.

Following Monday’s hearing at the Montreal courthouse, Judge Gouin ruled that the contested provisions of the by-law raise serious legal questions which the Court will need to consider in greater depth, but in the meantime, the urgency of the situation is such that a stay is required. The Judge namely invoked the elasticity of the definition of the term “pit bull type dogs”, which, by including mixes of the targeted breeds as well as dogs who physically resemble these, is so vague and imprecise that neither the Montreal SPCA, nor dog owners are able to determine exactly which dogs are covered. The Court also raised the possibility that the City of Montreal had exceeded its powers by providing for the seizure and euthanasia of “pit bull type dogs”, without consideration of whether the targeted animals are, in fact, actually dangerous.

The suspension of the by-law’s problematic sections is temporary, until a hearing can be held on the merits, at which time the Superior Court will consider the legality of these very sections. The dates for this hearing have not yet been determined, but it could take several months for the case to be heard.

“The fight is far from being over, but we are very pleased with this first victory” states Sophie Gaillard, lawyer for the Animal Advocacy Department of the Montreal SPCA. “We are particularly delighted to be able to continue finding adoptive homes for all of our healthy and behaviorally sound dogs, regardless of their physical appearance.”

The Montreal SPCA is represented in this case by Me Marie-Claude St-Amant et Me Sibel Ataogul, two partners at Melançon, Marceau, Grenier et Sciortino, senc. who also sit on the board of directors of the Association des juristes progressistes.

For more information on breed-specific legislation, visit www.saferkindercommunities.com

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Media contact: Anita Kapuscinska, Communications Manager, Montreal SPCA, 514 359-5198, or anitak@spca.com.

About the Montreal SPCA
Founded in Montreal in 1869, we were the first animal welfare society in Canada and our mission is to:

  • protect animals against negligence, abuse, and exploitation;
  • represent their interests and ensure their well-being;
  • raise public awareness and help develop compassion for all living beings.

For more information about the Montreal SPCA, please visit our website at www.spca.com.

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