Jack is one of the dogs that was brought from Montreal to a rescue group in Saskatchewan in advance of the pit bull ban. (Photo: One Last Chance/Facebook)
By the end of the year, there's a good chance it will be illegal to own pit bull-type dogs and those with “similar physical characteristics” in Montreal unless people have applied for a special ownership provision. Exceptions will be granted to people who don't have a criminal record, and the dog must be neutered/spayed with a microchip and a rabies shot.
Some animal shelters are worried that abandoned or roaming healthy pit bulls will show up at their doors and, because of the new legislation, will end up without homes.
"For the dogs who are already on the Island and are surrendered to local pounds and shelters, there may be a possibility to adopt these discarded dogs, but this will heavily depend of the shelters' or pounds' willingness to allow these dogs into their adoption programs," Annie Lortie of Montreal's One Last Chance - Animal Rescue Team told MNN. "Sadly, we suspect that many of these poor dogs might never make it out of these facilities alive."
On Sept. 26, the local city council is scheduled to vote on the legislation, which was prompted in part by the death of a woman in Pointe-aux-Trembles who was attacked in her yard on June 8 by a neighbor’s dog. Police believe the dog was a pit bull.
Before the proposed ban goes into effect, volunteers at One Last Chance have stepped up to proactively find placement for the pups. They have reached out to rescue groups across Canada, finding foster homes for puppies and adult dogs in places that don't enforce breed bans, commonly known in the animal world as breed-specific legislation (BSL).
Specifically two organizations in Saskatchewan (1,900 miles away) have volunteered to help with pit bull-type dogs. So far, Prairie Sky Dog Rescue and Prairie Pooches Rescue have taken in nine adult dogs and six puppies.
Because of the long trek, the dogs have to travel via air to find their foster families (and in some cases permanent homes).
"Typically, we fly them," says Lortie. "Although, this is the most efficient way of getting dogs out of province quickly and safely, the cost can be staggeringly expensive."
For the average size dog, she says, airfare costs between $350-$450, plus the cost of an airline-approved crate and basic vaccinations, rabies and a heartworm test. If someone is already flying to the area, taking the dog as baggage is much less expensive, which some people have offered to do, and others have donated crates. The Saskatchewan rescue groups are paying for the expenses, sometimes with the help of donations. So far, only one airline (WestJet) has agreed to fly pitbull-type dogs, Lortie says.
Of course, the rescue groups are gladly accepting donations, but they are also hoping residents will speak out against the proposal by contacting lawmakers.
"Education and public opinion speak volumes to politicians and decision makers," Lortie says. "Let our lawmakers know that the unilateral discrimination of certain breed looking dogs is never going to prevent dog bites or attacks. Responsible ownership is the only permanent solution."