Blog & Editorial

Pitbulls: the real solution also applies to cats


I’ve been listening to the debates on the issue of pitbulls and I don’t understand why we are still talking about banning these dogs. There is a simple solution that would benefit not only dogs, but also cats and all pets. That’s why I’m weighing in on the debate today.

Many liken pitbull defendants to lobbyists who promote firearms, arguing that the pitbull is not dangerous, but rather the person at the end of the leash. According to them, the « weapon » should be banned. However, banning pitbulls would be like banning only the AK-47 among all available weapons on the market. Basically, if pitbulls are banned, people who want a powerful animal will move on to other breeds. In a few years, the mastiff or German shepherd will be in the middle of the same debate.

So, why not ban all big dogs as we would ban all weapons? It’s a societal debate and, whether you agree or disagree, the fact remains that this argument is valid. Prohibiting the use of dangerous tools by the community because we don’t know how to use them properly has often been the preferred solution… unless said tool benefits us more than it causes harm. We could draw a parallel with cars. Since they hurt and kill lots of people, why not ban them? Because they’re practical! Thus, we regulate and supervise their use. Permits are required to use them. Do you see me coming? I think many of us will agree that pets benefit us as much, if not more, than cars. Why not apply the same logic?

Mandatory animal care training could lead to a « license » for anyone wishing to adopt a pet. To me, this solution seems obvious and realistic. I don’t understand why it’s almost never mentioned in the debate. We are willing to spend money on laws and inspectors to control pitbulls, but not on a long-term solution that could have a major impact on animals? Difficult to understand… There are enough animal professionals to support such regulations, be they behaviour specialists, vetenarians or animal health technicians.

Of course, these professionals should be accredited in order to eliminate « alpha trainers » and incompetents (who usually don’t know they are), but this is, in my opinion, very easy to do. Such regulation would create jobs and people like us, your favourite Cat Educators, could finally live out of our job like many of my colleagues in the field of animal behaviour.

Here are the potential impacts of such regulation:
– Major drop in surrenders. As a result, shelters could provide better help to animals and invest in education programs ;
– Significant decrease in the number of stray cats ;
– Significant decrease in cases of animal behaviour problems (which often lead to surrender or euthanasia) ;
– Decrease in injuries caused by animals ;
– Decrease in cases of animal abuse ;
– Job creation (veterinarians, animal health technicians, behaviour consultants) ;
– Quebec would stop being the laughing stock of the entire world, always ranking last in animal rights statistics (for example, puppy and kitten         mills).

Some would argue that such regulation would result in fewer people adopting pets and they would be partially right. But with today’s technology, it would be easy to take a mandatory online course BEFORE adopting an animal. This would teach people about what to look for in a breeder, but also how to choose the right animal based on their needs and environment. All this would help eliminate bad breeders, because people would be informed. Imagine all the positive outcomes! We could finally get rid of those punishment and dominance-based education methods, which cause so many problems.

The people who are not ready to invest a few hours in learning how to care for animals are probably the people who contribute to the problems listed above and who make us the worst Canadian province in terms of animal abuse.

I’m not suggesting that such regulation be imposed overnight on current pet owners, which would lead to a major wave of surrenders. I’m aware of the need for control measures and step by step implementing, starting with the behavioural assessment of every large dog. It would be a long-term project. Be that as it may, some countries, including Switzerland, have already opted for a similar system and their legislation works very well.

I ask of all the people who are discussing the matter to stop talking about ineffective measures. Instead, let’s discuss solutions that would benefit all animals and make a lasting difference in Quebec.


Daniel Filion

President, Cat Educator


1 The term « pitbull » is used here to refer to all breeds of pitbull type dogs.

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