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Montreal’s “Dangerous Dog” By-Law Affects Those Traveling With Pets

Every pet traveler visiting Montreal needs to be aware of the new requirements imposed on all pets under Montreal's new by-law.Update: Montreal’s “Dangerous Dog” by-law, banning pit bulls and placing restrictions on other pets visiting the city and its boroughs was passed and took effect on September 27, 2016. The following day the portion of the law requiring pit bulls to be registered and muzzled was suspended until a court case challenging these provisions is settled. The City of Montreal has now appealed the suspension, and as of October 17, 2016, that appeal had not been ruled on.

Update 2: On December 1, 2016, the injunction suspending the breed specific portions of the by-law was dismissed, and all aspects of the by-law have been implemented in Montreal. Pit bulls (as defined in the by-law below) must be registered with the city by December 31, 2016. Pit bulls that have not registered, or those traveling with their families, are banned from Montreal.

We recommend that all pet travelers take a stand against breed specific laws and join us in avoiding travel to Montreal and any other place where breed specific laws have been enacted. 


This week Montreal chose to move forward with its proposed animal control by-law, which is expected to take affect on September 26, 2016. These rules, while intended for the residents of Montreal, should also be expected to apply to anyone traveling there with a pet, and will impose stiff penalties for noncompliance.

The new by-law was designed to address dangerous dog concerns, and will be applied consistently across all of Montreal’s 19 boroughs. In addition, municipalities across Quebec have enacted similar rules regarding pit bulls or dangerous dogs this summer, and a proposal for province-wide legislation is expected before the end of the year.

Who Is Affected?

The by-law affects everyone who owns a dog or cat and lives in one of Montreal’s 19 boroughs, and no exemptions have been discussed for people visiting Montreal with their pets, so all travelers should expect to comply with local laws. The city’s goal is to encourage responsible pet ownership and requires:

  • Registration of all cats and dogs and the license must be displayed at all times (Traveling pets may display the license from their home city/municipality.)
  • The maximum number of cats and dogs per home is two dogs, and four animals in total (Special permits will be available for those who want to have three dogs.)
  • All dogs must be on a leash no longer than 1.85 meters (6 feet) in public
  • Dogs that weigh 20 kilograms (44 pounds) or more must wear halters or harnesses in public
  • All dogs must be microchipped and spayed or neutered by Dec. 31, 2019 (Exemptions are allowed for breeders with permits, or for dogs who can’t be spayed or neutered for medical reasons with a letter from a veterinarian.)

In addition, the by-law inflicts special requirements for pit bulls, which it broadly defines as Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, any mix with these breeds, and any dog that presents characteristics of one of those breeds.

Breed Specific Discrimination

The city’s new by-law bans all new pit bulls from the city limits and requires current pit bull owners living in Montreal to obtain a special permit to keep their pet. These are requirements to obtain a permit:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Make a request before Dec. 31, 2016
  • Present a document proving you do not have a criminal record
  • Prove you have spayed or neutered the dog and that it is currently vaccinated for rabies
  • Present proof you live in Montreal and that you owned the dog before the by-law came into effect (This residency requirement provision will prevent pet travelers from visiting Montreal with their pit bull.)

In addition, anyone obtaining pit bull permit must agree to the following:

  • Keep the dog muzzled when it’s outside your house
  • Keep the dog on a leash that is no longer than 1 meter (3.3 feet), unless you’re in a dog park or an enclosure surrounded by a fence at least two meters (6.6 feet) in height
  • The dog must be supervised at all times by someone 18 years or older
  • The dog must wear the medallion issued by the city to prove it’s properly registered

Not obtaining a permit, or failing to follow the rules, could result in a euthanasia order being issued for the pit bull.

Dangerous Dogs

The by-law also creates two categories of dogs of any breed that displays concerning behavior, at risk and dangerous.

For a dog to be deemed at-risk it must:

  • Try to bite or attack
  • Have bitten or attacked
  • Exhibit behavior that could compromise a person or another animal’s safety

The owner of a dog that bites someone has 72 hours to advise the city, and must be muzzled in public. The dog may also be required to undergo evaluation, at which time additional restrictions may be imposed, or the dog may be deemed “dangerous.”

For a dog to be classified as dangerous it must: 

  • Kill a person or animal
  • Be deemed to be dangerous by a “competent authority”

A euthanasia order will be issued for any dog deemed to be dangerous.

Proposed Penalties

The language in the proposed by-law is somewhat vague, but the minimum fines for noncompliance with the new by-law will be increased to $300, and the maximum fine will be between $500 and $750 for the first violation when the infraction relates to public safety (such as bites or leash length), or if the owner provides the city with false information.

Our Stand

Pit bull - Dog in Car

We strongly oppose Breed-Specific Laws. Laws that discriminate against particular breeds of dogs equate to race discrimination and are unacceptable. There is no evidence that breed specific laws are effective in preventing dog bites – but there is evidence that they have resulted in the senseless killing of thousands of homeless animals and beloved pets. We believe that enacting laws that are not biased against a specific breed result in more enforceability and are less prejudicial. We are particularly opposed any law resulting in the confiscation and execution of a dog that has done no harm.

Further, we do what’s possible to influence lawmakers in places where we can’t vote by not traveling to places and spending our money where breed specific legislation is in effect. Therefore, we will not be visiting Montreal, and we encourage you to do the same.

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