Recently, the City of Montreal enacted a ban on all dogs that are identified as looking like pit bulls. Of course, there is no real way for anyone to identify a “pit bull” since it is nothing but a vague set of physical characteristics which are highly subject to personal interpretation. But nonetheless Montreal adopted this ban. It is the worst sort of example of bigotry. Because a woman there was tragically mauled by a dog whose identification as a pit bull is still in question, the city has adopted wildly unreasonable legislation that presumes that all dogs that have the same look will behave the same way. When this sort of analysis is applied to humans, all people of decency recognize it as bigotry.
The Montreal ban is extreme. Once it goes into effect in October (assuming no stay results from the lawsuit brought against the city by the Montreal SPCA), no pit bull may be adopted in Montreal. The obvious result will be that all of them that are in or that enter a shelter will have to be killed. No, I will not use that “euthanize” word since their lives will be taken because of the way they look not because they are suffering from any sort of untreatable ailment or because of their actual behavior as individuals. Any owned dog identified as a pit bull will have to be the subject of a special permit for which the owner will be charged a significant fee, will have to be muzzled and kept on a short leash whenever he or she goes outside, and will have to be spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. Only the latter element is something we would see as appropriate.
If you have been paying attention lately, it won’t surprise you that PETA got on Montreal’s bandwagon immediately with a large dose of unethical propaganda.
No animal welfare advocate of any integrity would ever view this ruthless and bigoted action by Montreal as acceptable. But PETA does and has announced so proudly on its blog. They lost no time in getting up a blog piece congratulating Montreal on its brutality. It actually begins with “Good for Montreal!” I am not making this up. Good for Montreal? Good that they have put in place legislation that will result in the deaths of untold numbers of innocent animals?
The PETA blog piece is a remarkably perfect example of propaganda – reliant on the omission of essential facts so as to mislead and thereby achieve the desired emotional reaction of the reader. In fact, it would serve well as an example of propaganda in a college course on the topic.
If you were to read nothing but the PETA blog, you would think that the Montreal ban only requires that pit bulls be sterilized, microchipped and vaccinated. That is all that is mentioned about the law by PETA in their post. They then launch into their usual diatribe about the miserable conditions that some pit bulls live in as if this is the only possible outcome for these dogs. What they conveniently fail to mention to their readers is the crucial information that the Montreal ban prohibits the adoption of pit bulls, so they will necessarily die in shelters, and that it places very expensive and burdensome requirements on owners that likely will not be affordable for many of them resulting in pit bulls being relinquished at shelters. It is a prescription for massive loss of innocent lives, and this is what people who care about animals should be working to prevent. Not to congratulate.
There is nothing new about the fact that PETA has lost all moral authority in the field of animal welfare. Only the uninformed anymore think that PETA is a reliable advocate for voiceless animals. This is just the latest horrifying example.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.
The photos of bully-type dogs featured in today's blog are of dogs adopted from the Richmond SPCA. All photos were provided by the dogs' adoptive families.