This Beautiful Mural Has An Important Message: Montreal Should NOT Ban Pit Bulls

Photo credit: Jean Labourdette

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.”

Original story:

Photo credit: Jean Labourdette
Photo credit: Jean Labourdette

Jean Labourdette hasn’t painted a mural in a decade. The Montreal-based artist  came out of that retirement this weekend with a powerful new work, opposing Montreal’s proposed pit bull ban.

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.”

Photo credit: Paul Labonté

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.

Photo credit : Chantal Levesque photo
Photo credit : Chantal Levesque photo/Montreal SPCA

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 the United States, BSL is on the wane. In May, Arizona became the 20th state to do away with breed-based regulations altogether.

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.”

Photo credit: Jean Labourdette
Photo credit: Jean Labourdette

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.

Protests are underway. The Montreal SPCA is encouraging opponents of the ban to attend a city council session on Monday.

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 denis.coderre@ville.montreal.qc.ca.)

Jean Labourdette is one of 40 artists featured in an upcoming pro-pit bull art show and fundraising event.

Photographer Sophie Gamand — who famously put pit bulls in flower crowns to challenge negative stereotypes — is also involved.

“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.”

Photo credit: Sophie Gamand
Photo credit: Sophie Gamand

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.

Photo credit: Jean Labourdette
Photo credit: Jean Labourdette

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.”

Photo credit: Jean Labourdette
Photo credit: Jean Labourdette

Follow Jean Labourdette on Instagram

The Montreal SPCA is posting updates to its Facebook page and website.

Get in touch at aringreenwood@gmail.com.

Arin Greenwood

Arin Greenwood is an animal writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Previously, she was animal welfare editor at The Huffington Post. Arin is a former lawyer (J.D. from Columbia Law School, member of the New York Bar), life long animal lover, pit bull advocate, and devoted fan of cats and dogs who run for public office. Her first novel, Tropical Depression -- based on her five-odd, sometimes very odd, years living on a small island near Guam -- was published by teeny indie publisher Back Porch Books in 2011. Her second book, a comic young adult mystery called Save The Enemy, was published by Soho Teen in November 2013. Hello From Dog Island!, Arin's third book, will be published by Soho Teen in 2018. Know a shelter with a great, innovative program? Have another animal story to share? Get in touch at aringreenwood@gmail.com!

18 comments

  1. Cora Haworth says:

    Does this politician now how many hearts he is breaking, I have 2 pittbulls mixes and 6 siblings all under the age of 13. I am glad that I don’t live in at city but I hate how people treat pittbulls. I hate the reputation that bad people has given them.

  2. tabetha says:

    I so agree with this quote…
    Dogs should not be banned just because they are a certain breed. it’s like picking a particular race of people to ban there is good and bad in all breeds as same with all people… so true so true !
    I have a bull breed and the most sweetest gental dog .

  3. Mr says:

    This goes out to and for this so called Mayor you’ll voted this so called I’ll call him Satan.you can’t judge a dog just by his looks and not all pits have the big head.your a very angry,bitter,cold,hearted well we can’t say person cause it’s very clear your not ALL BREEDS CAN BE TAUGHT TO BE MEAN.I had small mix breed she would bite the crap out of you. What about the other breeds that bite,kill WHY DO YOU HAVE SUCH A HATE FOR THIS BREED.WHAT YOU NEED TO BE REALLY DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IS THE ONES WHO HAVE FIGHTING RINGs people who abuse dogs just cause.but again any breed can be taught to be mean what about the rottwaller,the doberman,you need to get gangs out of schools drugs being sold to e7/8/9 year olds do something with the tax payers money I bet you won’t be reelectioned.you are only teaching the kids if they don’t like it well just kill it’s OK the STUPID MAYOR DOES and it’s people like you who wonder why our kids are killing each other there families so on because they see you doing it Satan you need to get real so if you don’t like a group of people it’s okay to just kill them I think you’re breaking the law and you need to go to prison a kill is a kill.your just plain uneducated,heartless,good for nothing killer. WHAT about cats they bit. Claw you up.it’s not just pits why don’t you do some research.

  4. Mr says:

    This goes out to and for this so called Mayor you’ll voted this so called I’ll call him Satan.you can’t judge a dog just by his looks and not all pits have the big head.your a very angry,bitter,cold,hearted well we can’t say person cause it’s very clear your not ALL BREEDS CAN BE TAUGHT TO BE MEAN.I had small mix breed she would bite the crap out of you. What about the other breeds that bite,kill WHY DO YOU HAVE SUCH A HATE FOR THIS BREED.WHAT YOU NEED TO BE REALLY DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IS THE ONES WHO HAVE FIGHTING RINGs people who abuse dogs just cause.but again any breed can be taught to be mean what about the rottwaller,the doberman,you need to get gangs out of schools drugs being sold to e7/8/9 year olds do something with the tax payers money I bet you won’t be reelectioned.you are only teaching the kids if they don’t like it well just kill it’s OK the STUPID MAYOR DOES and it’s people like you who wonder why our kids are killing each other there families so on because they see you doing it Satan you need to get real so if you don’t like a group of people it’s okay to just kill them I think you’re breaking the law and you need to go to prison a kill is a kill.your just plain uneducated,heartless,good for nothing killer.

  5. Diane Renshaw says:

    Our two pitbull are peaceful, faithful friends, great family companions. They are the best.
    No good reason to restrain them for enjoying life by muzzling them.

  6. Charlette says:

    Any breed of dog can be trained to be vicious. Why someone would want a vicious dog concerns me… But please do not judge the entire breed by a few bad unknowledgable owners. I had a pit bull when I was pregnant with my son. That dog never left my side ( some times not a good thing, the bigger I got). But when we brought the baby home, we found no need for a crib monitor. If the baby so much as flinched during his sleep the dog would run back and forth to the baby’s room and myself until I went and checked the baby. When my son began walking the dog would herd him in circles if he felt he was getting to far away. Bad owners will produce bad dogs. Be responsible, get proper training, correct bad habits but don’t get eliminate the breed.

  7. Tony Mitchell says:

    Ignorants in the people that are running this country. What a disgrace for all Canadians. I would assume that Quebecs SPCA have payed employees??? If not you are going to have to pay them. Not to many animal lovers going to work there without pay. To be killing good dogs everyday. Shame on Quebec , shame on Ontario. Common sense, is not so common . I’m one person that will not visit or spend a cent in either of these provinces. Shame on Justin Trudeau! Thought you were a better man then you are. Time to get rid of the liberals.

  8. Felicia jaschik says:

    Why punish all pitbull because of the actions of a few.

  9. Ursula Suszko says:

    Everyday I see many people walking pit bulls around the neighborhood, including me…. if they were such a bad breed why do so many families own them? We also need to stop insurance companies from making these same restrictions when it comes to homes, apartment rental etc….a dog should be evaluated on it’s own merit/personality, not one established by ignorance and hate.

  10. David Edelstein/ Team Pit-a-Full Dog Training & Rehabilitation says:

    The idea and sentiment are cute and fun for social media… but lets face fact:
    To reverse or detour legislation like a ban on a specific breed of dog takes alot more than a mural. It takes PEOPLE and genuine effort in approaching law makers and with genuine statistical data/ proof.
    And if those law makers dont make sound decisions for their community bases on that data, THOSE SAME PEOPLE must make sure that politician knows their re-election is in jeopardy.

    THAT is what bring’s about change.

    Team Pit-a-Full
    Denver, CO

    1. David Edelstein/ Team Pit-a-Full Dog Training & Rehabilitation says:

      PS… I know, I know, approaching legislation is considered “confrontational” and where we lose 98% of support for change.

  11. Peggy Bell says:

    This must not happen … BSL has no place in this world. Total discrimination … Its the bad owners … not the dogs. Tougher laws against the owners and leave these beautiful dogs be. Murderers and child abusers and animal abusers need to be stopped and put in jail or worse. Animals are the innocent ones.

  12. shawn lewis says:

    I’ve owned four pitbulls. I love the breed. Their such a misunderstood breed. Their such a loving and loyal breed. Long live the pit bull and the people who love them and own them.

  13. Stacy Lee says:

    I have 4 pit bulls and this law is so unfair to the families who have accepted these dogs as their family members! I consider mine to be my children! They are the most loving animals on the planet, each with their own silly personalities. Please reconsider this decision! Think, if your own child had to give up their best friend because of some narrow minded law.

  14. T Hickl says:

    That’s crazy! Our Pitt is the sweetest girl ever!

  15. janice castle says:

    Dogs should not be banned just because they are a certain breed. it’s like picking a particular race of people to ban there is good and bad in all breeds.

  16. Sabrina Rodas says:

    For shame should the policians band a breed. They should punish and ban the individuals the tmale this breed feared. I have owned this breed for 39 years and they are loyal, loving and a huge part of our family.

  17. Benjamin Tuckerman says:

    go on every travel site and tell people to boycott Montreal in protest. hit them in the tourism poscketbook.

Comments are closed.