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Breed discrimination does more harm than good

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Illustration by: Alyssa Curry | Staff Illustrator

Breed discrimination is inhumane, tears apart families and ultimately does not solve any real issues.

Recently, Montreal, Canada issued a breed-specific law banning the adoption of pit bulls and similar dogs. Although many cities across the United States and Canada already have restrictions like this in place, Montreal’s ban has garnered a lot of resistance—as it should.

According to Rene Bruemmer of the Montreal Gazette, the ban was issued in response to an incident where a 55-year-old woman was killed by her neighbor’s dog. Allowing a murderous dog to run loose in a neighborhood is unacceptable, but we cannot condemn all dogs for the actions of one.

Dog expert, journalist and author, Bronwen Dickey, says the ban will prevent the adoption or purchase of pit bulls and pit bull mixes within Montreal. Additionally, citizens who already own a pit bull must pay to have their pets registered and sterilized by a certain date. All qualifying dogs, no matter their behavior, must remain muzzled when out of their home.

The breed-specific ban was issued to begin in Montreal on October 3, but was promptly suspended by an appeal filed by the SPCA. Unfortunately, the appeal failed, and the city of Montreal is now no longer a home for pit bulls and similar breeds.

Many residents of Montreal are unsure of what constitutes as a “similar breed,” because the legislation itself fails to specify. This is unfair to many large dog owners in the city, as they cannot be certain whether their beloved pet is at risk of being banned. Concerned citizens were instructed to consult veterinarians in order to determine if their dog was part of the ban, however, according to the SPCA, veterinarians are unable to identify dogs as pit bulls simply by looking.

Laws like this are irresponsible and ineffective. “All the data that purport to say certain types of breeds attack more than other types of breeds are just completely suspect and unscientific,” said Dickey.

There are various reasons why pit bulls have been given a bad reputation, but Dickey attributes the general negative connotation of the breed’s affiliation in illegal dog fighting and the drug war in the U.S. since the 1980s.

While the reputation the pit bull inherited is unfortunate, it can be changed. The solution is in the hands of pit bull owners. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, training and socializing a dog will help it react appropriately in public—meaning less bites and aggression.

Photos taken by dog owners in Montreal which show pets in muzzles looking sad and defeated have gone viral. The issue has since started a large petition with nearly 40,000 signatures—including mine.

The sweet, furry dog citizens of Canada and the U.S. should not be euthanized, shunned or feared because of the mistakes of a few irresponsible owners. As in most cases of violence and injustice, education is the answer.

– Katie is a mass communications sophomore