Jul 23, 2010

Call to ban pit bulls in the west end

Amanda Gatti holds her dog, Puppy, yesterday. Gatti suffered bites on her knees, shoulder and armpit while defending the Jack Russell terrier when it was attacked by a neighbour's pit bull on Monday. "We got nowhere with the police basically," she says. "I'm surprised there aren't more laws about this."

'The bottom line is they're a danger,' councillor says

An attack on a woman by a pit bull has residents of Notre Dame de Grace wondering whether their borough shouldn't ban the dogs or at least toughen up its animal safety bylaws.

Amanda Gatti, 24, was attacked by her neighbour's pit bull on Monday as she was coming home from a nighttime walk with her small Jack Russell terrier, Puppy, and her boyfriend.

The pit bull had escaped from its yard and ran up the stairs to Gatti's apartment, chasing her dog.

"It happened so fast, I didn't even have time to shut the door downstairs," Gatti recounted.

Trying to protect Puppy, Gatti suffered bites on her knees, shoulder and armpit. She says her boyfriend eventually managed to restrain the pit bull by the neck.

"If my boyfriend hadn't been there, it would have been a lot worse," she said.

Gatti, who recently had heart surgery and is on blood thinners, had to go to hospital for a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

The pit bull -which had attacked Puppy once before -escaped.

Gatti filed a police report, but she said she was not convinced anything would come of it.

"We got nowhere with the police, basically," she said.

"I'm surprised there aren't more laws about this."

Commander Daniel Leduc, chief of the police station where Gatti filed her report, said the police are one part of a longer process. After the police report is filed, it is sent to the city's dog patrol unit.

"They're the ones responsible for the inquiry, not us," he said. "We don't have a lot of power."

According to Michel Therrien, a spokesperson for the Cote des Neiges/Notre Dame de Grace borough, an animal inspector visited the owner of the pit bull yesterday and the dog was taken into custody. The case is under review and the animal might be euthanized or the owner compelled to muzzle it for 90 days, he said.

Gatti and her neighbours have approached borough councillor Peter McQueen about banning pit bulls. The borough already faced the dilemma two years ago when an elderly man was attacked and severely injured by a pit bull. Then-borough mayor Marcel Tremblay had city officials look into a ban, but no changes came about.

McQueen said the city has not been moving quickly enough on the issue.

"I and my party ( Projet Montreal) are going to work toward pit bull bans throughout Montreal," said McQueen, who lives just a few blocks from Gatti's house.

Montreal's boroughs each have their own regulations on the breed. Lachine and Outremont, for example, have bans in place.

McQueen said he doesn't disagree with this point of view, but he added that people use pit bulls to intimidate each other. "The bottom line is they're a danger," he said.

"It's very frightening," said Gatti's neighbour Lawrence Pinsky.

He said many residents, including himself, have started to avoid the house where the pit bull lives because they fear the dog will attack their pets or children.

"There's nothing inherently wrong with pit bulls," said Alanna Devine, the director of animal welfare for the Montreal SPCA. "The problem is the owners."

Any dog can be trained to be aggressive, she said. Stopping pit bull attacks lies with responsible dog ownership. Instead of a ban, mandatory sterilization could be a solution, she said, because unsterilized pit bulls tend to be more aggressive than sterilized ones. "If you ban the breed, you punish responsible owners."

"Pit bull" in itself is not a breed. The breeds that make up the category include bull terriers, Staffordshire and American bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers.



  1. this is such a nice photo. i am going to use it in my next weekly frankenmauler roundup.

    the love and devotion that she has to her little dog is really touching. pay attention nutters. our dogs mean a lot to us.

  2. Did I read that right? Gatti had RECENTLY HAD HEART SURGERY?! And she had to fight off a pit bull?! She is extremely fortunate that she didn't have a heart attack. This is just too much. Why do innocent people and pets have to put up with this? Why won't the police do their job? Their job is to protect the public and they are doing a lousy job.


  3. Yes, heart surgery, she is a little fighter!


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