Pit bull guardian concerned about looming legislation

MONTREAL – Bonnie is a seven-year-old pit bull mix who is very clearly a loved, and loving member of the Kemp-Tatarelli family.

“Bonnie is not defined by her breed. Bonnie is our family dog,” said Caroline Kemp.

But Bonnie’s future is at risk: Mayor Denis Coderre announced last Saturday his intention to ban the breed.

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READ MORE: Montreal to ban pit bulls and other dangerous breeds following fatal attack

The city wants all pit bulls to be registered, sterilized, and muzzled in public.

“Of course the pit bull situation is a situation —; we want to ban them,” said Coderre.

Since a pit bull type dog killed a 55-year-old woman in Pointe aux Tremble, even Quebec’s premier has been talking tough against the breed.

“My objective is that by the end of the year we have a Quebec-wide approach to the problem,” said Premier Philippe Couillard.

While the province and City of Montreal are rattling the sabers on introducing pit bull bans, Bonnie’s family is speaking out.

Kemp is an animal rights activist, she spends much of her time at the Frontier Animal Society, an animal rescue shelter in the Eastern Townships, where she sits on the board of directors.

She adopted Bonnie five years ago and hasn’t looked back since.

READ MORE: Pit bull attack reignites debate on banning specific dog breeds

“We got Bonnie as an adult dog, she was two years, we rescued her from a high-kill municipal pound,” said Bonnie. “She had obviously been used to breed because she had multiple litters in a short period of time, according to our vet.”

Although she agrees that all dogs should be sterilized, for Kemp, the proposed ban on specific breeds is a missed opportunity.

“Dog ownership is [and] should be considered a privilege, not a right,” said Kemp.

She feels breed-specific ban on pit bulls will have a band-aid effect, and won’t protect the public.

“It’s a reactive, knee-jerk response,” said Kemp.

Anita Kapuscinska from the Montreal SPCA agrees, and says any legislation should go further.

“As of right now anyone can breed a dog, any dog, and sell them to anybody,” said Kapuscinska. “Not everyone should have a dog.”

The SPCA is working towards proposing measures the City of Montreal can take to prevent future attacks from any breed, and it’s very obvious who the onus is on.

READ MORE: Toronto’s pit bulls are almost gone. So why are there more dog bites than ever?

“Owning an animal is big responsibility and people should be held accountable for their dog’s behaviour,” said Kapuscinska. “By having a breed specific legislation, you’re taking that responsibility from the owner and you’re blaming the dog.”

Kemp is ultimately worried that the legislation proposed by the city will be toothless.

“I feel that the people that are going to abide by these regulations are people like me, the people that are responsible, people that have perfectly friendly, nice dogs,” said Kemp. “And the people who are the irresponsible dog owners are not going to rush out and have their dogs sterilized, microchiped or registered.”

While she and her family are waiting to see what the province and the city will impose, they already know that Bonnie is here to stay.

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