Update, September 11, 2016:
Jean Labourdette has painted another gorgeous mural in protest of Montreal’s proposed pit bull ban.
This mural is on the wall of the Montreal SPCA — which has said it will cease providing dog control services to the city, should the pit bull ban go through.
“The legislation specifically stipulates that any quote, unquote, pit bull type dog, which as is drafted is so huge,” director of animal advocacy Alanna Devine told Global News. “It could mean any dog with short fur, a big head and a muscular body cannot be placed in adoption. So those dogs would be condemned to death.”
Labourdette hopes that it won’t come to that. He hopes the dog in his mural will help lawmakers see what the advocates, dog lovers, and families who would be affected by this ban already know.
“Make them feel the warmth of this beautiful smile, the pure unconditional love that this dog’s whole being is made of,” he says. “He represents the huge majority of pit bull-type dogs. Millions and millions of them who never hurt anyone and never will.”
Painted on a wall across from a metro station, the mural shows a blocky-headed dog with a human body as a martyr, or saint — releasing a dove as a messenger of peace.
“End BSL” reads text on the bottom right corner — meaning breed-specific legislation. These are laws that prohibit or regulate dogs by breed, most often targeting pit bulls.
“I used to make murals throughout the nineties and early 2000s but hadn’t done one in 10 years,”Labourdette tells Shelter Me — but the prospect “of BSL coming into effect in my town got me to pick up spray paint again.”
Montreal’s ban would be comprehensive. It encompasses American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, bull terriers, Staffordshire terriers, mixed breed dogs with some genetic relationship to these dogs, and “any dog that shares physical characteristics with a pit bull, such as large jaws or a stocky build.”
Folks who currently own the banned dogs will have until January 1, 2017, to register their animals. These dogs and owners will then face onerous restrictions.
No new adoptions or sales would be allowed to Montreal residents, starting September 26.
Pit bull bans are disfavored by every reputable group that has examined the issue, on the grounds that they do not increase public safety — in fact, they may make communities less safe — while being expensive to enforce, and cruel to both families and animals.
In Canada, an advisory group recently called on to make recommendations for Quebec province — which includes Montreal — also did not recommend such a ban.
And the Montreal SPCA vehemently opposes the proposed ban — arguing, among other things, that it will lead to good dogs being unnecessarily put to death.
“In a shelter context, our main concern is what is going to happen to these dogs,” the SPCA’s Marie-Noël Gingras says. “One thing for sure, no one at the Montreal SPCA wants to put down healthy and friendly dogs.”
But Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre is pushing forward with the proposed ban anyway. It is expected that Montreal’s lawmakers will vote on it in September.
One petition opposing the ban has more than 10,000 signatures. The Montreal SPCA has another robust petition and letter-writing campaign. (If you’d like to contact Mayor Coderre directly, his email address is email@example.com.)
Jean Labourdette is one of 40 artists featured in an upcoming pro-pit bull art show and fundraising event.
“I am begging you, think of the families you are about to traumatize, think of the innocent dogs you are about to massacre,” Gamand wrote in a letter to Montreal’s mayor. “In the 21st century, I expect more from our societies, and our communities can do much better than this.”
Labourdette is hoping, now, that his mural — along with all the other efforts — will help raise awareness, which may lead to more of an outcry at home, and from allies in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
Maybe then the city council — and the provincial government, should it also go forward with its proposed province-wide ban — will seek out better, more humane, more effective ways to make its citizens safer.
Should this not be successful, Labourdette has another plan. His wife is American; the family may move to upstate New York, or California.
He’s hoping it won’t come to that.
“Write to Denis Coderre to tell him the world is watching and won’t stand for this,” Labourdette says. “Like the dog in the mural, I am trying to send out a message to the world, asking for peace and justice for pit bulls.”
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.