Quebec's new legislation that aims to crack down on dangerous dogs is being condemned by animal rights groups, front-line rescue workers and dog owners.
The bill would have "catastrophic consequences," according to the Montreal SPCA, which has been a vocal and legal opponent of Montreal's own contentious pit bull ban.
"Should Bill 128 pass, the result will therefore be the systematic, large-scale putting to death of dogs in shelters across the province," the animal-welfare organization said Friday in a statement.
The proposed law, Bill 128, would allow the provincial government to eventually prohibit any kind of dog it considers dangerous — among them including pit bulls, certain crossbreeds, and dogs that are trained to protect or attack.
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux described it as a "gradual" approach to legislating dangerous dogs and said the government is taking steps to eventually ban all pit bulls across the province.
The long-awaited legislation was tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday and comes nearly a year after Christiane Vadnais was mauled in her Montreal backyard by a dog that had been described as a pit bull.
Humane Society International echoed the concerns of the Montreal SPCA and accused Quebec of unfairly targeting certain breeds.
"It's typical breed-specific legislation that targets certain breeds and falsely deems certain breeds dangerous because it assumes that a breed dictates behaviour of a dog, which is false," said HSI campaign manager Ewa Demianowicz.
'It's not based on any research or data'
For Tanya Das Neves, who owns a pit bull mix named Mavis, the bill completely misses the mark.
"It's completely wrong-headed," she said. "An animal [behaving] in a particular way, [is] not based on its physical appearance, but based on its history, based on the way that it is treated, based on its education."
Das Neves took the steps to be in compliance with Montreal's own dog bylaw, including getting a criminal background check done and registering five-year-old Mavis.
But she says Quebec's bill is confusing, and that the province should have instead focused financial resources to enforce the rules already in place.
"It should actually be spent on educating people and on enforcing the laws that already existed, which means keep your animal on a leash and have your animal in control at all times," said Das Neves.
Mina Carbone, an animal health technician who also rescues pit bulls, said that the new legislation was baseless.
"It's not based on any research or data," she said. "It's sad for dog owners."
She argues it would only further put pressure on rescue groups and said Quebec failed to reach out to front-line workers such as veterinarians.
"I don't think that the government — that has no knowledge of dog behaviour, dog care, dog housing — should be categorizing animals," said Carbone. "They don't have the experience, they don't have the knowledge."