The lawyer of the man whose pitbull killed a 55-year-old female neighbour in Montreal says her client had tried to address the dog’s aggressive behaviour, after more than one previous attack.

Audrey Amzallag said her client, Franklin Junior Frontal, told her the dog had “attacked a gentleman on his jacket” outside a convenience store, and that in a separate incident the dog attacked Frontal’s cousin, leaving him with bites on his arms and legs.

The cousin had come “out of nowhere to deposit a bag” and the dog “thought that it was a robber,” Amzallag added.

Frontal sought help from the SPCA and in online forums to “avoid the dog being alone and more aggressive,” Amzallag said.

Amzallag added that her client wants to convey that he is “sorry” to the family of the woman who died and is “definitely mourning for their loss.”

“Obviously he didn’t think that something that serious could happen,” she added.

Amzallag said her client, who lives with his parents, left the dog inside the house and went to school Wednesday.

She said he isn’t sure how the pitbull got out, and that his parents were out of town when the incident happened.

The victim, Christiane Vadnais, was discovered by neighbour Farid Benzenati.

At first, he thought the dog was playing with “a big toy,” he said.

"I realized it was the body of a woman, because I saw her hair," he added. "I hadn't recognized her because her eyes were closed, her skin, she was stripped of her clothes."

Const. Abdullah Emran said that in order for paramedics to reach the victim, officers had to kill the dog and that the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

He said charges of criminal negligence are possible, pending an autopsy.

Pitbull ban debate

Vadnois’ death has renewed debate about whether pitbulls are so dangerous that they ought to be banned altogether.

Quebec's Minister of Public Safety Martin Coiteux said Thursday that the attack warrants a larger discussion about dangerous dogs.

Pitbull bans became more common after a CDC study found that 70 out of 199 reported fatalities from dog bites between 1979 and 1996 – about one-third -- were caused by pitbulls or pitbull crossbreeds.

That was far more than any other breed, including Rottweilers, which were the second-most-likely to kill humans.

Ontario has a total ban on the breeding, sale and ownership of pitbulls.

Some parts of Montreal, including Outremont, also ban pitbulls. Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles, where Vadnois' death occured, does not have a pitbull ban.

However, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opposes breed-specific bans.

The ASPCA notes that Rottweiler bites increased dramatically after Winnipeg banned pitbulls in 1990, and that a “breed-neutral” dangerous dog bylaw enacted there in 2000 appears to have been more effective at reducing bites.

The Montreal SPCA also opposed breed-specific legislation. "Assuming a dog is aggressive because of the size of his body is not an effective way of determining whether or not an animal is dangerous," said media relations co-ordinator Anita Kapuscinska.

With reports from CTV Montreal