• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion will maintain dog by-law until fall


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

More than 50 dog owners crammed into the Vaudreuil-Dorion council chamber on Monday evening, June 20, to voice their concerns about a possible by-law amendment that could prohibit certain breeds within the municipality.

Vaudreuil-Dorion said it will keep the status quo regarding its dog by-law until at least the fall as the city plans to set up a committee to study whether it will introduce revisions that could ban certain breeds of dogs that are considered dangerous, it was announced during the Monday evening council meeting on June 20.

About 50 people crowded into the council chamber with at least another 10 standing outside the doorway entrance, mostly dog owners who argued that any changes to the by-law that would prohibit ownership of dogs such as pit bulls, Dobermans, and Rottweilers would unfairly target residents who take full responsibility for their pets.

Pro-Mayor and District 1 councillor Claude Beaudoin reassured residents that no changes will be made to the current by-law but a committee will be established in the fall to study the issue and determine whether any modifications are necessary.

It’s possible that the committee may not even get off the ground considering the provincial government is presently studying whether it will adopt Ontario’s lead and impose a province-wide ban on certain breeds, Beaudoin added. If that happens, the city will have no option but to adhere to the provincial legislation if it’s adopted.

“We’re not anxious to go ahead,” said Beaudoin. “We have to be careful. If the government comes up with something, we’ll have to adjust but how do we adjust? This is why we’ll sit together with specialists this fall but we’ll have to wait. In the meantime, we have the perfect by-law.”

By-law 1510 stipulates that dog owners are forbidden from bringing their pets into any of the city’s public parks except for four designated dog exercise areas, excluding ‘dangerous, aggressive, attack or protection dogs.’ All dogs must also be leashed and under control at all times when being walked on sidewalks.

Some municipalities in Quebec have already modified their dog by-laws to prohibit breeds considered dangerous in response to an incident two weeks ago in north-end Montreal after a 55-year-old woman was killed in her yard by a neighbour’s pit bull. Other recent attacks have also resulted in calls for stricter municipal regulations governing certain breeds.

One resident who has four Rottweilers told council that in the past 20 years none of his dogs ever attacked or displayed aggressive tendencies towards anyone. He said it isn’t the dogs that are bad – it’s the owners who don’t take proper care of their dogs who are.

Elizabeth Morales, a spokesperson for Wicca’s K-9 Justice Foundation based in Vaudreuil-Dorion, said banning certain breeds is not the way to go. The foundation was created after Wicca, a five-year-old pit bull was put down by the City of Montreal in 2012 following a lengthy court battle because of a reportedly minor incident.

Morales said that in addition to pit bulls, the foundation is now advocating for other large-breed dogs as well. “We want to ensure that we have a large network of people working with us and make sure their voices are heard,” said Morales.

“Ontario has had a ban for almost 10 years now and it’s been proven it doesn’t work,” said Morales. “It’s really about the responsibility of the owners and the city to hold people accountable. It’s not about breeds. Every dog and every owner should be held accountable. Fines are a great way to go along with classes and mandatory training.”

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