After Montreal council passed an animal control bylaw last week that requires pit bull type dogs to wear muzzles at all times, a Lachine resident is looking for alternatives.

“There’s a difference between muzzling your dog when they’re walking down the street and when they are playing in a park,” said the president of the Famille canine de Lachine dog association, Sylvie Giguère. “A dog that is muzzled all the time will go crazy, it’s like being behind prison bars,” she said. “They won’t be able to use up their energy.”

Of the over 100 dogs registered with the dog park on Victoria and 28th Ave. in Lachine, six are pit bull types. They are young and get along well with the other dogs, according to Giguère, but she fears that the interaction with other dogs will be affected by being muzzled.

“A dog that is muzzled is without defence, the other dogs know it.”

Giguère would like to see specific times that pit bull type dogs can play in the park without the protective mask. “Maybe we can raise a flag for times of day when dogs can play without their muzzle,” she said.

The new bylaw, which the Court suspended until Wednesday, also says that pit bull type dogs on private property must be behind fences at least 2-metres high, but that rule will not apply to dog parks, a spokesperson for the city confirmed.

The new regulations mean all dog and cat owners must obtain a licence for their pet, ranging from $10 for cats to $150 for pit bull types dogs. The pet must be sterilized and microchipped, and owners of pit bull type dogs will have to submit to a background check.

The association holds member workshops with dog trainers, something that Giguère believes is key when it comes to dog behaviour. “Education has a place in every domain and that is where we need to focus our efforts,” said Giguère.

Pit bulls have been prohibited in Lachine since 1989. The next year, the Quebec Superior Court upheld the bylaw after it was challenged by two Lachine residents who claimed the law violated Canada and Quebec’s charter of Freedoms.

 Lachine residents can obtain animal permits at Bureau Accès Montréal, 1800 Saint-Joseph blvd.

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