September 29th, 2016
This week’s decision to ban pit bull-type dogs in the city of Montréal has garnered heavy criticism from dog advocates. The new law was prompted by a fatal dog attack, and police have acknowledged that they aren’t even sure whether the dog in question was a pit bull.
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) recognizes that dog bites pose a risk to public safety. However, multiple studies have identified many factors that contribute to a dog’s propensity to bite, including — but not limited to — intact status of the dog, socialization, and community education.
Aside from that, the pit bull-type is particularly ambiguous as a “breed.” It encompasses a range of pedigree breeds, informal types and appearances that cannot be reliably identified, so breed identification mistakes are common.
Many communities — and some countries — have attempted to address this issue by enacting breed-specific legislation that targets certain types of dogs believed by some to be disproportionately responsible for dog bites and bite-related fatalities. However, it has not been demonstrated that breed-specific bans reduce the rate or severity of bite injuries occurring in the community, and some places that implemented such bans have since rescinded them.
It is in the opinion of the CCPDT that the solution to preventing dog bites is education of owners, breeders, and the general public about aggression prevention and responsible dog ownership, not legislation directed at certain breeds.
Further, the CCPDT believes singling out and publicly banning specific breeds is unwarranted. It does a tremendous disservice to those types of dogs and the people who love them, while encouraging the inaccurate perception that other breeds are inherently safe. This can give a false sense of security, and may lead individuals to engage in unsafe conduct with other breeds that can result in injury or death by individual representatives of those breeds mistakenly assumed to be safe.