Breed Specific Legislation: what it means and why it is ineffective in creating safer communities
WHAT IS BSL?
Breed specific legislation (BSL), also known as breed discriminatory legislation (BDL), is any legislation which restricts or prohibits ownership of certain types of dogs based on their breed or physical appearance. This legislations does not take into consideration owners' and dogs' behaviours. It is solely based on a dog's appearance.
BSL that bans certain types of dogs may include a ‘grandfather clause’ which allows people who currently possess the dogs subject to the ban to keep them under certain strict conditions (such as mandatory muzzling). Even with a ‘grandfather clause’ dogs subject to the ban cannot be adopted or brought onto the territory (making them at a high risk for being put-down in shelters). Responsible owners often face harassment and discrimination in their community which results in a higher likelihood of these dogs being surrendered to a shelter and killed.
WHAT BREEDS HAVE BEEN TARGETED?
Many different breeds of dogs have been targeted by BSL, including:
American Bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cane Corso, Chihuahua, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, Dogo Argentina, German Shepherd, Miniature Bull Terrier, “pit bull" (note: "pit bull" is not a breed), Presa Canario, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, and wolf-hybrids are just some of the breeds.
BSL also targets mixed-breed dogs that share physical characteristics with targeted breeds of dogs
Actual breed composition might not include targeted breeds
All based on subjective interpretations of physical characteristics
WHAT BSL IS BEING PROPOSED IN MONTREAL?
On the morning of August 17, 2016 it was announced that the City of Montreal had drafted proposed amendments and new bylaws to existing Animal Control Regulations which included the introduction of breed specific legislation (BSL). In “DOCUMENTS RELATING TO PROPOSED MONTREAL BSL” you will find the proposed bylaws and video of bylaws presented during the August 17, executive committee meeting.
The new proposed by-laws were posted to the City Of Montreal's website the morning of August 17. That evening the executive committee convened for a scheduled meeting; during that meeting the Animal Control Draft Regulation was presented to the full executive committee and to all of those present. The presentation summarized some of the new by-law being proposed for the City of Montreal's 19 agglomerated boroughs. To-date boroughs have had the jurisdiction to adopt and apply their own Animal Control bylaws to their respective boroughs (previously some had adopted the proposed harmonized by-law from the City of Montreal, some adopted it with some modifications and others kept the old RCMV c-10 without ever making amendments). The new proposed by-law also included an amendment, removing power from the boroughs and providing the City of Montreal with the power to adopt legislation related to animal control for all 19 boroughs.
The video and presentation* was posted to the City of Montreal's website and a full draft of the proposed bylaws were accessed on August 18, 2016.
* Please note this is not an official translation, the presentation was only presented and made available in French.
DOCUMENTS RELATING TO PROPOSED MONTREAL BSL
BSL has historically proven to be both ineffective at creating safer communities and costly for taxpayers.
WHY DOES BSL CONSISTENTLY FAIL TO INCREASE PUBLIC SAFETY?
Based on breeds/appearances, not the individual dog’s behaviour
Focuses on dogs, not owner accountability
Over and under inclusive: victimizes responsible dog owners, fails to capture reckless dog owners
Difficult to identify breeds/mixes of targeted dogs
Extensive resources required to enforce
Alienates dog owners from each other as well as from the community
Placebo effect, with no increase in public safety