Quebec considering new pitbull rules after deadly Montreal dog attack
Warning: Readers may find some of the details in this story to be distressing.
Quebec is studying whether to follow Ontario's lead on banning pitbulls after a 55-year-old woman died from a horrific dog attack in Montreal on Wednesday.
The provincial government has created a pitbull working group to look into creating regulations for the province and Premier Philippe Couillard says that could result in a ban on the breed.
The woman died after a neighbour's pitbull came into her backyard where she was alone.
Neighbour Farid Benzenati said he thought the dog was playing with a big toy at first.
But as Benzenati took a closer look, he realized that the toy was actually a body.
"I realized it was the body of a woman, because I saw her hair," he told CTV Montreal. "I thought it was my neighbour. I hadn't recognized her because her eyes were closed, her skin, she was stripped of her clothes."
Montreal police are now investigating. They say the 27-year-old owner is cooperating.
Const. Abdullah Emran said in order for paramedics to reach the victim, officers had to "neutralize" the dog.
"The dog was shot and the paramedics got to the victim," Emran told CTV Montreal on Wednesday.
He said the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing, but Emran said the dog's owner could face charges of negligence causing death.
Officials said they are waiting autopsy results before determining whether charges will be laid.
The woman's death comes as Montreal officials work on a city-wide pet regulation bylaw.
Currently, Montreal’s various boroughs and suburbs have different regulations. The residential borough of Outremont enforces a pit bull ban, while the dogs are allowed in other boroughs. South Shore-St. Julie passed a law that requires dogs heavier than 20 kgs be leashed and muzzled while in public spaces.
There were seven dog attacks in the borough last year, five involving pitbulls.
Quebec's Minister of Public Safety Martin Coiteux said Thursday that the attack warrants a larger discussion about dangerous dogs.
However, he noted that the power to regulate pets in the province ultimately lies in the hands of municipal officials.
Ontario banned pitbulls more than a decade ago, making it illegal to own, sell or breed them.
Dog trainer Frederic Labbe says Quebec is late reacting to a long-standing problem with aggressive dogs. He believes dog owners should have to pass a course to own a dog.
The Montreal SPCA supports that idea but opposes any kind of 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," Montreal SPCA media relations co-ordinator Anita Kapuscinska told CTV Montreal.
In a statement, the Montreal SPCA said dangerous dogs can belong to a variety of breeds.
"Some of those dogs are Rottweilers, some are shepherds, others are poodles, some are mastiffs and some are mixed-breed pit bulls," the statement read. "However, the Montreal SPCA does not consider breed-specific legislation to be an effective or practical solution to this problem."