Pit Bull Restrictions Lifted in Montreal as New Mayor Makes Good on Pledge

The measure banned new adoptions of pit-bull-type dogs and imposed new restrictions and higher fees on existing owners.

The bylaw was immediately challenged, including in a lawsuit filed by the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The suit resulted in injunctions on some key provisions, including one that said dogs could be taken from noncompliant owners and euthanized. And in November, Valérie Plante, who had promised to drop the parts of the bylaw targeting specific breeds, won the mayoral election.

The regulations targeting pit bulls were suspended on Wednesday.

“It was unfair,” Alanna Devine, the director of animal advocacy for the Montreal S.P.C.A., said of the old bylaw in a phone interview. “It punished responsible dog owners and well-behaved dogs simply because of the way the dogs look.”


Several breeds of dogs are commonly referred to as pit bulls, based on their appearance.

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

She pointed out that “pit bull” is a hazy term that could include a range of mixes and does not refer to any particular breed. (American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers are often considered pit bulls.)

People tend to characterize pit bulls by how they look — muscular, with blocky heads and square jaws — and associate them with personality traits including dominance and aggression.

Pit bulls are also associated with dog fighting; historically, many were bred for that purpose. And pit bulls have attacked humans. Just this month, there were reports of a toddler being mauled at a pet adoption event in Texas and a woman who was apparently killed by her own two pit bulls in Virginia.

After Ms. Vadnais was killed in Montreal in 2016, Denis Coderre, the mayor at the time, said in a statement that the new bylaw provisions were about “the safety and sense of…

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