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Montreal judge rejects bid to save pit bull from euthanasia

The dog attacked six people last August, including four children

A judge on Tuesday rejected a legal bid from a prominent Montreal lawyer and a U.S. animal shelter to save a pit bull-type dog from euthanasia after it attacked six people last August, including four children.

The attack was highly publicized at the time and officials in the Montreal borough where it occurred immediately declared the animal “dangerous” and ordered that it be killed. But lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, a well-known animal rights activist acting on behalf of the dog’s owner, as well as a specialized animal refuge in New York, asked the court to spare its life.

The refuge, called Road to Home Rescue Support, wanted to take control of the animal and ensure it would never be adopted to a home. Goldwater argued in court last week the section of a municipal bylaw declaring a dog must be euthanized once declared dangerous contravenes provincial animal welfare legislation.

She argued that section of the bylaw should be declared “inoperative” because it contravenes provincial legislation that describes animals as “sentient beings” that have “biological needs.”

READ MORE: Animals seized from North Okanagan property

But Superior Court Justice Lukasz Granosik ruled Tuesday the request to have the dog named Shotta sent to a refuge rather than put down came too late. And he upheld the bylaw’s provision on dangerous dogs. Granosik added the U.S.-based refuge had no standing to petition a Quebec court. He said the municipality has the right to order the dog euthanized.

A lawyer for the City of Montreal, Alexandre Paul-Hus, had said the dog’s actions on the day of the attack clearly showed it was dangerous.

Goldwater acknowledged at the beginning of the hearing last week that the animal in question had attacked people — including several children — and was “not the best of dogs.” But she added it is often the most difficult cases that test the laws and rights society puts in place.

“We’ll never advance our rights with the nice little neighbourhood dog who never does anything (wrong),” she told Granosik. “We test them in a difficult situation to see if the laws have claws and teeth.”

Among the victims were the two grandchildren of the woman watching the dog. The dog first attacked a four-year-old girl, wounding her in the head. The animal was then enclosed, but managed to escape and wounded the girl’s seven-year-old brother in the arm later in the day.

The Crown announced last week there would be no criminal charges against the woman who was watching the dog when the attacks took place. She had agreed to take care of it when the owner had a medical emergency.

READ MORE: Pitbulls put down after attacking children on Vancouver Island

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