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New law in Montreal bans new pit bulls, requires them to wear muzzles outdoors

MONTREAL — A controversial new law implemented in Montreal would ban residents from adopting new pit bulls and require owners to put muzzles on their pit bulls when in public.

A Staffordshire Bull terrier sits in a kennel on August 2, 2010 in London, England. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A Staffordshire Bull terrier sits in a kennel on August 2, 2010 in London, England. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

As of Oct. 3, no new "pit bull-type dogs" will be allowed in Montreal and those without a special permit could be captured and euthanized.

Canadian outlet CBC News reports that the legislation was quickly brought to the attention of Montreal lawmakers following the mauling death of a 55-year-old woman in June.

The goal in enacting the new by-law is to ensure the safety of Montreal's estimated 4 million residents and encourage "harmonious cohabitation between residents and pets," according to the government's website.

However,  the legislation has attracted much flack from animal advocacy groups, including the Montreal chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA has long stood against breed-specific laws.

"Perhaps the most harmful unintended consequence of breed-specific laws is their tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety," the ASPCA said in a statement. "There is no evidence that breed-specific laws make communities safer for people or companion animals."

Under the legislation, pit bull-type dogs that are brought out in public must be equipped with a muzzle and a leash that is 1.85m (around 6 feet) or shorter.

Additionally, owners must be able to provide documentation their dogs are sterilized, equipped with microchips and vaccinated against rabies. They will also have to reapply for special permits for their pit pull-type dogs each year, or risk having their dogs taken away.

The dogs included in the "pit bull-type" category include American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers. Some call these dogs a "misunderstood breed," as they are often associated with aggression and violence.