Montreal – countdown to September 26

montreal mural

Protest mural by Jean Labourdette http://goo.gl/Y1fX2C

On Monday, August 22, the 19 boroughs of Montreal voted to consolidate animal control bylaws, so that when new animal control legislation is voted in on September 26, no single borough will be in a position to challenge it.

The proposed bylaw is endorsed by mayor Denis Coderre and will ban “pit bulls” (defined as American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, any dog with one of those breeds in it, or any dog that looks like one of those breeds) within the city. It places restrictions on all dogs and leaves a clear path to including other dogs on the restricted list:

  • Pit bulls are banned unless owner has special licence, only available up to December 31, 2016. No new pit bulls after that time will be allowed in the city and no pit bulls not licensed in Montreal. This will include visiting dogs.
  • Existing pit bulls must have special (more expensive) licence, be vaccinated against rabies, be sterilized, be microchipped, wear a muzzle and 4-foot leash outside, be behind a 6.5-foot fence and muzzled on own property, be owned and walked by someone over 18, be owned by someone who has no criminal record, especially any related to violence (but not limited to those), must always wear its special licence tag. Violation of any of the above will result in the immediate destruction of the dog.
  • ALL dogs must be microchipped and sterilized by December 31, 2019 unless you can provide a medical note from a vet or unless you have a “breeding dog” (not defined)
  • A limit of four pets, only two of which can be dogs, will be imposed. There is no grandfathering option imposed for those who currently have more than two dogs, so presumably they will have to choose which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of.
  • Permission granted for the Executive Committee to add other breeds as they see fit.

Thank you to Steve Barker of DLCC for the translation and summary. Full document can be downloaded here.

It appears that Mayor Coderre and some key policy makers have made up their mind on the breed ban, expressing their clear and unequivocal support and declining to answer specific questions on Monday. The final vote will take place on September 26.

From Monday's protest in City Hall.

From Monday’s protest in City Hall.

There is similar talk happening about a breed ban at the provincial level as well, but the Montreal vote is more imminent and will likely set the stage for the conversations to take place provincially.

We urge you to take this window of time to take action, especially if you have a connection to Montreal or Quebec. The mayor and official opposition can be emailed through the Ville de Montreal website, and a complete list of Montreal city councillors is available here.

A few other useful links…

Petition Sites

Montreal SPCA: saferkindercommunities.com
Boycott Montreal Tourism: http://goo.gl/F53ygW

 Facebook
Tourism Montreal
City of Montreal
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre
Quebec Premier Phillippe Couillard

Twitter
Montreal Tourism: @Montreal
City of Montreal: @MTL_Ville
Phillippe Couillard: @phcouillard
Denis Coderre: @DenisCoderre

Please keep it civil – while the issue is an emotional one, this is no time for strong language or abusive content. You can certainly speak from the heart or simply tell them that BSL is a bad idea for everyone in the province. You can also share any and all of the following.

  • Specific ways that BSL doesn’t work: http://hugabull.com/bsl/
  • Let them know you personally pledge never to travel to Quebec/Montreal and spend tourism or other dollars there.
  • If this legislation passes, let them know you will contribute to a legal defense fund for those within the province to fight this legislation at every possible level of the justice system. Groups in Western Canada are working together to set up this fund so that crowdfunding can begin the moment the new legislation is passed.

If you have any updates, social media handles, or tips to add to the above, please email us at info@hugabull.com.

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A dog’s fate in Montreal

Rocky, currently for adoption through a Montreal rescue.

Rocky, currently for adoption through a Montreal rescue.

In Montreal tonight, Canada’s second largest city will vote on whether to proceed with a proposed ban on pit bulls. The entire province of Quebec has announced they will be pursuing similar measures. Advocates in Quebec will be protesting, and are circulating petitions:

Montreal SPCA: saferkindercommunities.com
Boycott Montreal Tourism: http://goo.gl/F53ygW

Breed bans are ineffective, inhumane, and they are plain old bad policy. Based on our experience with the Province of Ontario, here’s what we see, and foresee, happening:

As talks of legislation escalate, people start to worry. If someone was already on the fence about keeping their pit bull type dog, this will push them to make a decision, and shelters will start seeing more of them. At the same time adoptions will decrease because even in this window of time where the dog might be legal, most adoptive families aren’t going to sign up for a host of restrictions on their family dog for the next 10-15 years. An increase in abandonments was noted a few months ago  in Quebec (due to a number of factors but it’s reasonable to assume that the proposed legislation was among them). We have also been contacted by a number of shelters directly looking for options for the dogs in their care.

The legislation allows irrational fears to take seed and grow. Pit bull owners have been experiencing verbal abuse and much worse, including attempts on their dogs’ lives. Businesses and landlords have started to restrict opportunities for families with blocky-headed dogs because of fear or concern for liability.

Ontario puppy labelled a "pit bull" cross. We don't know its fate.

Ontario puppy labelled a “pit bull” cross. We don’t know its fate.

Many shelters and animal control departments will begin euthanizing blocky-headed dogs. They may do so because they don’t have the resources for re-homing, or because someone in management is on board with the legislation and wishes to see it to its natural conclusion. Now, keep in mind that most dogs in our communities are mixed breed, and the ability of even trained professionals to identify breed visually is abysmal. This has been shown in academic studies, and in the many cases brought before the courts in Ontario. So inevitably, pit bull breeds will be euthanized – but so will mastiff crosses, boxer crosses, lab crosses, and many others. If a dog is reported as a suspected pit bull at any point, or if an official declares that it’s coat is short enough and head is wide enough to fit the description of the breed, it’s a death sentence.

brindle hugo

Hugo, brought from Ontario through HugABull and Bullies in Need.

Some shelters and groups will find ways to send dogs out of the Province. This has been able to happen in Ontario thanks to partnerships across Canada. We participate in this system out of compassion for the dogs, but it not a solution:

  • The resources involved in cross-border adoptions are immense. With restrictions in the home province and with many airlines, it is expensive and logistically difficult to ship a dog out. If the province of Quebec adopts legislation similar to Ontario, this means that a good chunk of the country will be off-limits for dogs to travel through.
  • Cross-border adoptions rely on the non-enforcement or civil disobedience on behalf of the rescue and foster home. Because of the logistics involved, these dogs are often in foster care for months. Some parts of Ontario, like Ottawa, have openly stated that they don’t enforce the breed bans, so a foster home may feel safer there. For now. Others simply take chances for the sake of the dog, risking their own safety and well-being since the law allows police officers to enter your home and seize your dog if a suspected pit bull lives there.
  • Streets was abused by her owner, but she was considered the dangerous breed in Ontario. She was relocated to BC by HugABull and Bullies in Need.

    Streets was abused by her owner, but she was considered the dangerous breed in Ontario. She was relocated to BC by HugABull and Bullies in Need.

    Only the very best dogs get saved. Because of all the factors above, the rescues participating in this “underground railroad” can’t afford to take dogs with behaviour problems. A reactive or noisy dog will attract attention of neighbours. A dog that needs training or boarding will probably not be serviced by local businesses. Think about the dogs in your life and how many of them are perfect, or were perfect at the time they were placed in your home. Not many, right? Imagine them as a pit bull in Montreal in a few months, and they will die because of their poor leash manners or separation anxiety.

  • Rescues in the receiving province need to commit to a dog sight-unseen. When we commit to an Ontario dog, we are providing them a spot and allocating donation dollars that could be given – and could probably do more for – a BC dog. This is a constant ethical battle for us, because in some cases both dogs face death if we can’t take them.

Ten years after the breed ban in Ontario, there is no shortage of “pit bull” breeds there. We are contacted regularly by shelters and the rescues working in Ontario who are caring for dogs that need out. We are currently supporting the efforts of Bullies In Need to free the Chatham 21 dogs who have been impounded in concrete kennels, at the cost of the taxpayer, for nearly a year.

Monkey, currently up for adoption in Montreal.

Monkey, currently up for adoption in Montreal.

Our foster program is full now, and we are just barely breaking even on vet bills. The other reputable bully breed rescues in BC are in a similar position. Once the Quebec legislation passes, we will help if we can, but at most we are talking about a handful of dogs over the next year. The will is there to help, but the resources simply won’t be.

The legislation is a crime, and it will absolutely result in the death of dogs and puppies. Please speak up against it now, while there is a sliver of a chance that it can be reconsidered. Sign and share the petitions, stay informed about what is going on, and mobilize anyone you might know in the Province of Quebec. Write to government officials and to tourism organizations.

If this legislation passes, we will be working with other advocacy groups to step up the boycott campaign, and to invest in a legal defense fund. Please stay tuned and be ready to provide your support. While the US is moving towards mandatory breed-neutral legislation in almost half of its states, Canada is moving backwards. We will need every voice and we can’t afford to be complacent.

Petition links (again):
Montreal SPCA: saferkindercommunities.com
Boycott Montreal Tourism: http://goo.gl/F53ygW

If you would like to donate to anti-BSL efforts, use our donation page and indicate that you would like your donation directed this way.

Donate

 

 

 

 

 

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Be a part of our 2017 calendar

10957719_1023098057711915_3807010991286697025_oWe are putting together our 2017 calendar and it’s going to be a good one. This year’s theme is exceptional and very different from anything we’ve done before, thanks to the creative talents of Sit Stay Studio. We can’t wait to share it with you!

We hope you will choose to be a part of it, and we are officially opening up “mini-headshot” opportunities. For your donation of $25 or more, you can submit a photo of your pet that will appear in the bottom portion of our calendar. Any species of pet can be included, so show off your kitty or ferret or small furry cutie! If you own a business, a medium or large space can be used to place an ad.

Proceeds from mini-headshot sales cover our printing and shipping expenses, allowing 100% of sale revenues to be directed towards the dogs in our program. These donations are tax-receiptable – just provide us with your full name and mailing address and indicate that you would like a receipt mailed to you.

A $25 donation will reserve you a 2.5 x 2.5 inch space (small)
$45 donation – 5 x 5 inch space (medium)
A $65 donation – 7.5 X 5 inch space (large).

See below for an example of relative size and placement.

Interested? Here’s how to get your pet on the VIP list:

1. Email HugabullFundraising@gmail.com to reserve a spot. Indicate the size of headshot you want, and your pet’s name.

2. Send the photo to HugabullFundraising@gmail.com. High resolution photos are ideal (at least 1MB in size). Ensure the photo is cropped (or able to be cropped) into the space available. Close-up portraits often work well.

2. Provide payment.  Use the link below to pay by credit card/PayPal, or send an email money transfer to info@hugabull.com. If you wish to pay by cash or cheque, send us an email and we can arrange for pick-up or drop-off.

Payment and photo must be received by Monday, September 5 to secure your space in the calendar. Email HugabullFundraising@gmail.com with any questions. We look forward to another year of gorgeous close-ups!

headshot prices2
PAYPAL LINK


Size



 

 

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Remembering Jessica, Patron of the Pitties

IMG_3465Last week, we heard that Jessica Coulter-Brown, one of our devoted community members, had passed away from pancreatic cancer. There are no words to express our devastation. Jessica was truly someone who made the world a better, happier, kinder place.

If you ever attended a HugABull event, or applied to adopt a HugABull dog – or did anything with HugABull, really – your life probably intersected with Jessica’s, even if you didn’t know it. She has been an active member of the community for a decade and in every capacity you can name. In preparing to write this post, we searched the HugABull email accounts, looking for photos and special stories about her.

IMG_1639

Bunny, Sage, and Ava, one of Jessica’s many fosters.

We found many. We also found countless emails along these lines:
“Hey Jess, we just had a puppy come into the shelter and there’s nowhere for it to go…”
To which she would respond asking when and where we’d like him to be picked up.

We found PayPal receipts for every major donation drive or fundraising campaign we’d organized over the years.

We found RSVPs to events and group walks, despite the fact that Jess lived in Squamish and had to drive an hour each way. The last time we saw her personally was close to midnight at our Fortune Sound club event last November. She had come by to say hello after her night shift, choosing to come support our event rather than heading to her comfy bed that surely beckoned.

phoenix1

Bunny, when we first met her in 2007.

She marched in the Pride Parade. She did homechecks. She supported new adopters. And she was a poster child for responsible pet ownership. She had two bully mixes, Bunny, adopted through HugABull in 2006, and Sage, adopted through the SPCA with HugABull’s support in 2008. Both were dogs that needed help. Bunny had an advanced case of mange and Sage was from an SPCA seizure involving a momma dog and Sage’s littermates. Jessica offered both of them a place to heal and thrive, and both are healthy, happy, exceptionally well-trained dogs today.

Bunny today.

Bunny today.

Jessica was active, happy, and giving. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that her boundless positive energy is no longer with us. We have all been under a cloud of grief since we heard the news. When we sent a message to her husband, Paul, he told us that her instructions to friends and family were to direct donations to HugABull in lieu of flowers. This last gesture moved us to tears – it shows the capacity of this woman’s heart, right up to the end.

IMG_0369

Jessica and baby Sage.

There’s no question that Jess will be missed and mourned by family and friends, and by all of us on a personal level. She was a joy to be around. We will always remember her, and she will always be part of our organization. Working with this breed can mean facing negativity and stigma, and the only way to respond is from a place of love. Jessica exemplified this, nurturing individual animals in need and supporting positive education and advocacy at the same time. That love will live on forever – in our hearts, and in every family that she helped make whole.

Her life was too short but she made a difference to many. May we all be fortunate enough to do that.

IMG_1799

Jess and foster dog Rosie.

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Sense and Sensationalism

cbc screenshotAs we know, talk of breed bans in Quebec and recent dog attacks have fed media fires over the last week. In our last blog post we explored how “pit bull attacks” are covered differently from attacks by other breeds, a phenomenon that many of us are familiar with.

Yesterday we were able to watch the progress of what seemed to be a manufactured “controversy” story across CBC media outlets. Read/listen for yourself and tell us what you think.

The morning of Monday, June 27, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner joined Rick Cluff on the CBC Radio’s Early Edition (interview at 1:41:08). When asked about her response to recent dog attacks in the city, she said that she didn’t feel that bites were an “overriding problem”. However, she did intend to talk to City Council at that night’s meeting and recommend taking a closer look at the bylaw and convening an informed panel to see if it could be “strengthened and tightened”. Perfectly reasonable, right?

Several times, Mr. Cluff directed the conversation to “is it the owner or the breed?” or “pit bulls have a bad reputation”. Mayor Hepner gave balanced, reasonable answers each time, even though she indicated that she herself has mixed feelings about the breed (hey, that’s her prerogative; kudos to her for not letting it interfere with responsible policy making).

In her interview, Mayor Hepner said that she’s inclined to think that laws targeting owner behaviour will be more effective than breed-specific ones. She said that in the past, various breeds have been targeted and this changes with time. She said that if you start by banning pit bulls, another breed will become a problem and you’ll have to keep adding to the list. She also noted that Ontario’s ban hasn’t been effective.

It was not a bad interview. Yet when it was written up for the website, this is the headline they used:

Surrey to consider pit bull ban after latest attack. 

Wait….what? At no time did Hepner suggest that restrictions, let alone a ban, were being considered. While the article includes direct quotes from the interview, the overall message was that breed specific measures were on the table at that night’s City Council meeting.

This concerned us, of course. We visited the City of Surrey website and found no mention of animal control matters on the agenda. We called the city councillor’s office and were told that the dog matter was going to be a brief mention in a very full agenda.

Around 5pm, we received a call from CBC asking if we would be available for an in-person interview on the proposed breed restrictions and “concerns about recent pit bull attacks” in Surrey. We declined, as there was nothing, to our knowledge, to comment on. But we agreed to do a telephone interview following the Surrey Council meeting.

During the meeting, Mayor Hepner asked for Council’s support in bringing together a committee of experts to review the current bylaw. The Council voted in support of this. There was no mention of breed. There was no discussion. That was the end of it. On to the next item in the agenda.

CBC did not call us for that telephone interview. If they had, we would have told them that consulting experts to create evidence-based, common-sense legislation was a GREAT idea. But apparently, that doesn’t measure up as a news story.

 

 

 

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When other breeds bite

13552705_10157174258830249_1394094018_nHave you ever noticed that when there’s one “pit bull” story in the media, there are always two or three more that follow? Then the news outlets start reporting on this supposed epidemic, and talk of breed bans begins, with talk radio lines lighting up. It’s the same cycle, 30 years and counting.

Dog bites happen every day. Not because dogs are inherently aggressive, but because there are a lot of them in BC, and a small percentage of them will bite. Even a very small percentage of a large population will result in several instances to note.

Of these bites, some will be by pit bulls. They are in the population, so they will be represented in bite statistics. We can’t ignore the fact that some are from less-than-stellar breeders and living with less-than-stellar owners where they aren’t set up for success. The bottom line? If you go out looking for pit bull bites, and especially if you are generous in your definition of a “pit bull”, you will find them.

We sure heard about them this week.

On Monday, a woman was severely attacked by a large dog outside a convenience store in Surrey. Breed ID of “pit bull” was made by witnesses and this was reported by many media outlets.

The dog was eventually located by Animal Control and destroyed. No further breed ID has been released publicly. CBC featured a quote from the mayor stating that the dog was “supposed to be muzzled” which may indicate that the dog had past behaviour problems.

Within days, the media had located another “pit bull attack” as breaking news. This was to a small Pomeranian puppy. The owners of the puppy were understandably distraught, but the actual damage was minimal considering the size difference between the two dogs – a $400 vet bill for an extracted tooth was noted. In the news segment, the dog appeared to have no cuts or punctures, with no bandage or even a cone. While this was traumatizing to the family and should not have happened, we would argue that this is not “breaking news”. Dog altercations of this magnitude do happen on a regular basis.

Then there was an attack in Vancouver. The media was on site a few minutes after the victim left, zooming in on a blood-splattered sidewalk. They were responsible enough not to name a breed on site, but most reporting lumped this incident with other “pit bull” attacks and certainly caused people to wonder.

These incidences have been reported ad nauseum to fuel a week-long “pit bull debate” this week. It coincided with Quebec introducing various levels of breed-specific legislation following a death by “pit bull” in the province. This is the third dog-related fatality in 2016 in Canada, but the only one involving a pit bull. In fact, it’s the only death by a pit bull since 1995. Yet this single case has inspired overnight breed bans and provided media controversy gold.

But what else happened that week? Statistically, over 100 people were bitten by dogs in BC. Maybe a couple of hundred, depending on how closely our bite rates compare with studies in the US. Twenty, thirty, maybe more required hospital treatment. But we didn’t hear about them because they were dealt with as a private matter. Animal Control may not have been notified, and the media certainly weren’t.

But let’s be fair. This month, the media DID report on some serious bites by other breeds:

A young girl was bitten on the face by an Akita mix in Central Alberta at the beginning of June. It made the news when the parents learned that the dog had a bite history, and they made their story public to advocate for stricter enforcement. Note that the breed of dog is incidental here – the focus is on his past behaviour and the context in which the bite occurred.

Then there was this story in a local community paper. On June 17, a boy was attacked by a loose German Shepherd in Maple Ridge. Again, this wasn’t reported simply because the dog attacked. It became a story when the parent had a complaint about how the reported event was handled.

Or this one, which is pretty upsetting. This bite was from back in May but was reported recently. An Olde English Bulldog badly injured two young girls in Alberta. Despite the magnitude of the injury, this did not receive the same widespread coverage at the time of the event. Once again, the breed of dog was incidental and the story is focused around the dog being a repeat offender and whether this could have been prevented through better regulation.

All three of these incidents are worthy of public discourse if we are really concerned about regulation of dangerous dogs. But when a breed not perceived as a “pit bull” was involved, we see the following;

  • little to no reporting at the time the incident occurred (contrast this to cameras gathered at the Mac’s convenience store or photographing blood spatters in South Vancouver).
  • the “news” item is not that a dog attack occurred, but because a failure of enforcement or regulation was perceived.
  • breed is incidental to the story. It is reported as a “dog attack” with no speculation as to whether its breed was a factor in its aggression.

What if every dog attack was a “dog attack”? Could we then look at stories and see common factors like past history of aggression, quality of ownership, dogs running at large, and the vulnerability of children? That conversation doesn’t have the adrenaline-pumping, click-generating power of the “breed ban debate” but it just might lead to measures that actually keep us safer.


Note: statistics and links are the best sources available to the author at this time. If a better source is identified, please contact info@hugabull.com

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A closer look at bite numbers

DrakeStatistics are invaluable in attempting to understand social problems. But as we all know, they can also be manipulated to suit one’s existing worldview. Check out our Statistics and Soundbites page for some background on interpreting studies in general, and dog bite studies in particular.

On June 22, Mia Johnson spoke to CKNW in support of restrictions on specific breeds of dogs. She claimed that 44 of the 184 dog bites in the city of Vancouver were from pit bull breeds, which to her indicates that the breed is a problem.

The source material backing this claim was included online, which almost never happens and this makes us very happy! We encourage people to do their own research and not blindly accept soundbites from people heavily invested in making an argument. We have yet to verify that it is the full data set from the City but will do so and provide an update.

Even a quick glance through the data points to a problem in its interpretation. Ms. Johnson included the following breeds in her analysis (spellings and categories are from the source data):

American bulldog/pitbull – 1
Bull Terrier – 3
Pitbull – 31
Pitbull X – 4
Staffordshire Bull Terrier – 5

Total: 44

Including Bull Terriers in the category is questionable, because it’s very rare for this breed to be included in BSL. Then again, it’s not unheard of.

There’s also the issue of breed identification and whether the breed ID was the initial impression of the animal control officer/victim/witness or whether it was added after further investigation. We suspect it was the former, because there are very few purebred American Pit Bull Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the city of Vancouver, yet there are a LOT of mixed breeds. This is not reflected on the breed list. The list also has discrepancy in how dogs are recorded (Black lab/shepherd, shepherd/lab, and shepherd X are all used for example). So there are a few areas for further analysis.

But here’s what popped out immediately. Shepherds. If we are going to use “pit bull” as an umbrella term, let’s do the same with shepherd breeds:

German Shepherd – 22
Black lab/shepherd – 1
Lab/shepherd – 1
Shepherd – 6
Shepherd/Chihuahua – 1
Shepherd/lab – 1
Shepherd X – 6
Sher-pei/Shepherd – 2

Total: 40

Australian shepherds are on the list as well, with 3 bites. So if we were to include them in the total (in the spirit of Bull Terriers being pit bulls) we’re at 43.

44 pit bull bites and 43 shepherd bites.

Ms. Johnson used 2014 stats for this analysis. A CTV news report cited 2015 stats: 178 bites, 29 of them by pit bulls. This may be due to a less generous definition of “pit bull” on the part of whoever did the analysis, or it may be that 2014 was an anomalous year where there were a higher number of pit bulls bites (or reporting of pit bull bites).

These numbers could also be used to spark another line of inquiry. 184 reported dog bites in a year means that someone is being bitten every two days in the City of Vancouver. And since dog bites tend to be under-reported, especially when it occurs among family and friends, it’s probably safe to say that a dog bite happens somewhere in the City limits every day.

Add in the surrounding municipalities, assuming a similar population-to-bite ratio, and we should be hearing about a couple dozen dog attacks a week. From pit bulls, sure, but from shepherds and mixed breeds and labs and the other dogs in our community. Why don’t we?

Source:
316374706-2014-Bites-by-Breed-Vancouver

 

 

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Stress management and BSL

13510505_10154109889441014_6668657_nWritten by Steve Barker of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada. Shared with permission.

How To Manage Your Stress When Fighting Breed-Specific Legislation

1. Do not read online comments under news articles. Online comments are made by two types of people: those who agree 100% with breed bans and those who disagree 100% with breed bans. They are almost always activists who are already involved in fighting the battle on either side. Nobody in online comments will ever be persuaded to change their point of view. Also, nobody except these two types of people read all of the comments under the articles.

2. Try not to click on obviously pro-BSL articles. They are looking for clicks which translate into advertising revenue for the news organizations. Why help them increase their revenue? Also, from a purely positive-reinforcement point of view, why give them a reward for publishing their crap? They’ll just do it more if it works. Plus, it will only raise your blood pressure so, for your own health, don’t click.

3. Do not share news articles that have false information in them. Again, if the news organizations can’t do adequate research, they don’t deserve to make money from their articles. Instead, copy/paste the text if you want to share it. Copyright be damned. If they did their job properly, we wouldn’t have to avoid clicking on their stories.

4. Don’t get into arguments online. If someone is asking a legitimate question and you can give them a reasoned, logical answer without overreacting, then by all means go ahead. But as soon as the other person gets aggressive, just end the conversation. It’s not worth it for your mental health and they’ve made it clear that you’re not going to persuade them anyway.

5. Protect your time religiously when it comes to talking to the media. They will interview you for an hour or more and then put your worst 10 seconds into a newscast. They will run you ragged. If your name is out there as someone to talk to, you’ll get 5 e-mail messages and 3 phone calls all asking for interviews. You’ll be on the phone for hours or running from studio to studio and, in the end, a tiny fraction of what you say will ever make it to the public and it’s never the part you’d like the public to read or hear. Live interviews (particularly radio) are best because you won’t be edited.

6. Take a break from social media and go do something else. You can spend hours reading and liking and commenting without actually accomplishing anything and you will be exhausted afterwards.

7. Consider the 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle – look it up). Of all the things I’m currently doing, what 20% of those things will get me 80% of the results? What one thing, if I do it now, will have the biggest impact? Maybe that is writing a blog post or researching facts or writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper. Arguing online with a single person who doesn’t want to hear your side anyway would count as part of the 80% waste of time.

Hope this helps.

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BSL in Quebec – What you can do now

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 9.11.04 AMIn Quebec, BSL talks have gone from speculation to reality at a dizzying pace. Because things have happened so fast, people are just starting to organize. For now, here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Follow the story and the facts. The media will report the most sensationalistic soundbites, but organizations like HugABull will attempt to report balanced updates. The Montreal SPCA has stepped up, making a strong statement against the proposed breed specific approach, and will be posting updates in the days to come. Follow them!
SPCA Montreal on Facebook
SPCA Montreal on Twitter

2. Spread balanced, proactive information. Encourage anyone you know in Quebec to get involved and speak out. Here are a few specific opportunities:

13423724_903385393105666_3756843673374570305_nUse the hashtag #jamaissansmonchien on Instagram to share family photos of your blocky-headed dog in a family context.

There is also a petition circulating: NON au banissement des pittbulls au Quebec. . While most online petitions aren’t legally admissable, a large number of signatories will show support for this issue. English translation is below.

Protests are being organized on Saturday, July 16 in Montreal and Quebec City.

3. Contact the policy makers. Ask them to consider evidence-based, sensible alternatives to breed-specific legislation. Polite, well-worded messages ONLY please. Emotions run high on this topic, but strong language only perpetuates stereotypes about pit bull owners and supporters.

In Quebec City, where the mayor Regis Labeaume has pledged to ban pit bulls by January 1, 2017.
Email (links to an online form)
@villequebec on Twitter

In Montreal, a breed-specific approach to animal control has been proposed. Email Mayor Denis Coderre with alternatives.
Email (links to an online form)
Denis Coderre on Facebook
Denis Coderre on Twitter

Premier Philippe Couillard has indicated that the province of Quebec will “probably” follow Ontario’s model of a province-wide ban on certain breeds.
Email (links to online form)
Philippe Couillard on Facebook
Philippe Couillard on Twitter

13453376_10154060001546558_1327510693_oIn your communications, please keep the following in mind:

  • it’s okay to keep it short – in fact that is preferable to long essays that probably won’t be read anyway.
  • keep it polite and articulate.
  • try to find a French-speaking friend to translate, and if you have a connection to Quebec or one of the cities affected, emphasize this. They will be more interested in hearing from residents, potential tourists, or business people rather than random people half a country away. If you know people in Quebec, ask them to do everything they can.
  • try to share facts, but feel free to speak from the heart. A photo of your dog in jammies probably won’t change legislation, but a first-person account of how this legislation affects responsible citizens and average families might cause someone to think.

Some sample letters are at here and here. Information on breed-specific legislation is on our website and we will be sharing more resources soon.

English translation of petition at
http://www.petitions24.net/non_au_bannissement_des_pittbulls_au_quebec.

NO to the banning of pitbulls in Quebec

After the headlines that have made the front pages in Quebec concerning an entire race that we are planning to ban, I believe it is important that we speak in the name of an animal who cannot defend itself.

An animal is an animal, regardless of the race or variety. We do not have the right to penalize citizens who have good pitbulls simply because they are born with the name of their race. Let us respect the families, the citizens, the good people who have a healthy animal in their homes.

To those who fear this race, please conider the legitimacy of your fear. Is it the media who is conveying an erroneous or inaccurate message? Is it the stories of dog attacks, poor treatment, or simply a fear of large dogs?

Considering that the banning of pitbulls by our neighbors in Ontario have demonstrated no resultsm and that worse yet, the number of dog bites is even on the rise, we find this strategy completely useless.

Considering the lack of comprehensive and serious scientific data on the subject, we refuse to let ourselves be seduced by this easy and irrational solution out of fear and disinformation.

Considering that veterinarians who specialize in behavior like Dr. Diane Frank agree and have stated that the solution is not the banning of a race, but the recognition, evaluation, and monitoring of mental illness among dogs as well as the education and socialization of normal dogs and the education of dog owners.

Considering that the solution comes from the education of society, from the awareness on the parts of dog owners. For example, by bite-prevention sessions for primary school students, from instruction on dog body-language, from the abolishment of puppy factories, from the obligatory sterilzation of animals belonging to companies without breeding permits, from the formulation of precise terms and conditions required for the use of terms such as “behavior specialist” and “canine instructor,” etc.

Considering that there are dangerous dogs of all races and sizes and that racism has never been an interesting solution for the advancement of our society.

Considering that there are extraordinary and well-balanced dogs of all races and sizes, we refuse euthanasia and the human drama that the banning of pitbulls would entail.

Via the Association of Veterinary Doctors of Quebec

The information above is based on our own research. If any links are faulty or there are better resources available, please email us at info@hugabull.com and we will update.

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Research and responsible rescue

Clover and PirateAdoption has become a popular option for people looking to add a pet to their home. And it should be! Animals in rescues and shelters can be ready-made pets.

Your local shelter is a great place to start your search. However, they have limited resources available for matching, so if you wish for a more personalized experience, or are looking for a certain breed/type of pet, you might look into local rescues.

But be ready to research! Not all rescues are equal. Some may have good intentions but are so focused on getting pets in homes that they miss important steps, setting dogs and owners up to fail. And sadly, there are some that take advantage of rescue’s popularity, running “retail” rescues that operate like a business. Their focus is placing dogs and collecting fees, without looking after the best interests of animals or humans.

How do you know you are working with a reputable rescue? Look for the following:

Screening
You should be encouraged to ask questions about your potential new family member, have a no-pressure “meet and greet”, and be given time to think about the pet’s fit with your family.

And the rescue should be concerned about screening YOU. Most will require a home check and/or references along with an in-depth interview to ensure you are a match for the pet. If a rescue offers to drop a dog at your door a day after receiving your application, or they are hosting “mass adoption” events, that tells you that screening is not their priority.

jake for webHealth care
The animal should be vet checked, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated prior to adoption. If there are any health issues or suspected health issues, the animal should come with vet records and a treatment plan so you know what to expect.

Temperament screening
There should be a procedure to assess the dog for behavioural issues – friendliness with strangers/animals, separation anxiety, housetraining, etc. Most rescues have a foster period to help the dog decompress from shelter life and allow for their true personality to emerge. When dealing with living creatures there are always some surprises, but the rescue should have steps in place to catch potential problems early and put a training plan in place.

Follow-up support
The rescue shouldn’t be out of your life once papers are signed. They should encourage you to contact them with any questions and connect you with resources. If things don’t work out, they should be ready to take a dog back – in fact, they should insist on it. A rescue’s commitment should be for the lifetime of an animal.

Reasonable adoption fees
Some rescues will charge a little more for puppies, or a little less for special-needs dogs, but rescues shouldn’t be raising prices for “desirable” dogs as a profit-making initiative. Among BC rescues, the average adoption fee is $250-500, which (barely) covers basic vetting and care.

Professionalism
Check whether the rescue is a registered non-profit society or a registered Canadian charity. If they are not, it doesn’t mean they are bad – every organization has to start somewhere. And certainly, an organization can follow guidelines for BC non-profits and still fall short of good rescue practices. But broadly speaking, an organization registering with the government has taken a step towards some accountability. The rescue should also use detailed contracts and be able to talk knowledgeably about their policies and procedures.

It’s worth noting that rescues are almost always run by volunteers, so a little patience and understanding might be necessary. But any reputable rescue should respect your questions and be comfortable speaking to any of the above points. Ask for references and do research! Talk to vets, trainers, and people in the pet industry to determine how long the rescue has been around and whether it operates ethically.

10380908_10101104918935601_1566730323563894892_nIt might seem like extra work – but this is a family member and a commitment of 5, 10, or 15 years. Don’t be swayed by an emotional appeal or any pressure to adopt. A good rescue has the well-being of the animal as its first priority, and would not engage in manipulative tactics to secure an adoption.

Want to learn more? Email info@hugabull.com or visit one of these sites:

nopuppymillscanada.ca/rescue.htm

islanddogsrescue.com/ethical-vs-unethical-rescues

pawsforhope.org/resources/responsible-rescues

 

 

 

 

 

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