Montreal, July 26, 2012 – This past Monday, Wicca, a dog deemed dangerous by the City of Montreal, was removed from her owner and brought to the Berger Blanc pending a euthanasia ordered by the City on June 11th. This case highlights the inherent flaws in the current animal control by-law, in particular that a dog can be put to death at the City’s discretion, and also raises serious red flags regarding the new proposed by-law to be put forward by the City.
Under the current by-law, a dog can be sentenced to death at the discretion of a City or borough official if the official deems the dog to be a danger to public safety or if the dog has bitten and caused a skin laceration requiring stitches. The by-law does not require the official to consult a qualified dog behavior expert, nor to assess the context of the incident, nor to consider other viable alternatives that would satisfy public safety concerns (such as mandatory muzzling) before ordering a dog’s death.
In Wicca’s case, the City refused to consider expert evidence from a certified veterinary behaviorist who had assessed Wicca and had written a report regarding her behavior and temperament.
The new by-law that the city is proposing would be even more draconian, as it would provide for automatic and mandatory euthanasia in cases where a dog causes a skin laceration regardless of the context or the severity of the injury. Dog owners wishing to fight a euthanasia order from the city will also only have 24 hours to obtain a behavior analysis from their own chosen expert in order to contest. The 24 hour delay will not permit a dog’s owner sufficient time to obtain their own expert evidence as the wait list for dog behavior specialists in the city of Montreal is generally greater than a week “What is so scary about what Mayor Tremblay’s office is proposing is that it means that if, for example, a dog was to bite another dog or a person while defending themselves the dog would be automatically sentenced to death by the City” said Alanna Devine, Director of Animal Advocacy at the Montreal SPCA, “and it will be impossible for dog owners to even contest this death sentence because the delay of 24 hours is not nearly enough time to find, hire and consult with an expert in canine behavior”.
The City of Montreal had announced that they are working on a harmonized animal control by-law project but until now had yet to release any information about its contents. “We are shocked that the city would choose to move in this direction and introduce a new by-law that not only doesn’t redress the issues with the current legislation but that raises even bigger concerns” said Nicholas Gilman, Executive Director at the Montreal SPCA.
The Montreal SPCA is asking citizens to contact the Mayor’s office (email@example.com) to express their concern over the current by-law and proposed new by-law and to ask that the by-laws be amended to appropriately ensure for public safety without imposing undue consequences on the animals and citizens of Montreal. Please visit the SPCA website in the upcoming days at www.spca.com where we will be posting a model letter to the City of Montreal.
Media contact: Alanna Devine 514.735.271, extension 2245, or firstname.lastname@example.org