This week the City of Montreal enacted a by-law in response to the killing of a woman by a dog in July. Though the media stated empirically that the dog involved in the death of Christiane Vadnais was a pit bull, police and other experts are uncertain of the breed and are awaiting results of DNA (which remains an unreliable method of discerning breed).
The parallels between so-called breed-specific legislation (BSL) and the policies that lead to culls of coyotes, wolves, and other large mammals across North America, are eerily apparent. In most cases of a cull for coyotes or wolves, it is a small segment of the population claiming the need for drastic, immediate policy, without the support of science or public input; and, frequently, against the interpretations of available data.
Recent studies are showing that not only do culls not work in preventing livestock depredation or population control, but can increase depredation, poaching, and overall conflict levels. Similarly, there is no published data that suggest breed-specific legislation decreases the number or severity of dog bites in any jurisdiction. In fact, in some regions that track such data (it isn’t recorded uniformly outside of single cities), dog bites increased following the introduction of BSL.
Community safety will always be a priority for politicians, as it should be. But reacting to fear with more fear, or in some cases, hate, doesn’t solve any problems. And as science has proven, sometimes it can even create new problems. Education, proper consultation with unbiased experts, and due process are essential to prevent this, and in the long-term, save lives.
The Fur-Bearers stand proudly with our friends at the Montreal SPCA (and the hundreds of rescues, shelters, and other individuals across Canada) fighting breed-specific legislation, and urge all supporters to visit their website at SaferKinderCommunities.com to find out how you can help.