Dangerous dogs: Quebec leaves decisions in the hands of municipalities

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A dog can bite or injure a child and potentially face no consequences, according to new regulations presented Wednesday by the Public Security Minister, Genevieve Guilbault, who chose to leave the decision of what to do with such dogs in the hands of municipalities.

The municipality where one such incident occurs could decide that the dog is "potentially dangerous." But they may also choose to do nothing at all.

However, the municipality would be required to order the owner to euthanize his dog, if the latter inflicted "serious" injuries on a victim or if the dog killed someone, as happened in the case of Christiane Vadnais in 2016 in Montreal.

Under the new regulations, the Legault government is relying on municipalities to supervise dangerous dogs, but Guilbault said on Wednesday that the proposed rule changes would force all Quebec dog owners to register their animals.

She added that Quebec is refusing to target any specific breed--choosing instead to let municipalities punish animals who have harmed people.

During the 2018 election campaign, Premier Francois Legault blamed the former Liberal government for leaving the issue up to municipalities and said he was ready to ban dangerous dogs.

Guilbault on Wednesday also chose to criticize the previous Liberal government for acting too slow to control dangerous dogs.

"The previous government could have proposed this regulation earlier before we arrived because they tabled a bill but without any rules so it couldn't be applied," she said.

A dog in March attacked Dominique Alain in Potton, biting her in the arms and legs. The attack sent her to the hospital. She doesn't think the CAQ has gone far enough to prevent a similar attack.

"[The government] they don't have the courage to say it's zero tolerance for any dogs in Quebec that have attacked and seriously wounded someone," she said. "I think that the Legault government they just do not want to tackle a serious position with dangerous dogs--they're really washing their hands in asking the municipalities to decide if a dog may present a risk."  

With reports from CTV News Montreal

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 4, 2019.