This past week, the passage of breed-specific legislation in Montreal, Canada has rocked the world of animal advocates. Breed-specific legislation, known as BSL, refers to laws that regulate pets solely on the basis of breed or look (not behavior or incident) and is widely accepted as unjust and ineffective. Montreal’s ordinance has the potential to affect thousands of families who would be separated from their pets and puts the lives of many dogs at risk.
Despite the extraordinary challenges this new law represents, we believe every situation can become an opportunity to learn, inform, support, and expand our collective impact for companion animals and the people who love and need them.
Here’s what you can do to help the citizens and dogs of Montreal:
Whether you live in Canada or abroad, adding your name to petitions helps to show the breadth and scope of disapproval over what is happening in Montreal. Consider adding your virtual signature to these lists:
Donate to support Canadian nonprofits
We have big love for heroes at the Montreal SPCA, who have been at the forefront opposing this legislation from the moment it was first proposed. They’ve since launched a suit against the city and hope for an injunction before the law goes into effect. Donate to help support their efforts.
Prairie Pit Bull Rescue has announced its intention to focus efforts specifically on those families who are made most vulnerable by this new ordinance — those who can't afford to be in compliance with the terribly discriminatory fees. Their efforts will require donations to help families keep their pets, and will keep pets out of harm's way.
Dans la Rue is a Montreal nonprofit that works with homeless youth, many of whom own dogs who will be caught up in this new law. You can donate funds to support their work and specify DOG FUND.
Be a responsible advocate
It’s easy enough to hit repost or share on social media, but in order to truly make a difference for people and dogs, it’s critical to share factual information in a calm and respectful manner. Do your research before reacting: It’s cool to be nerdy! Plus, when it comes to changing minds — whether those of our friends and family or of elected officials — remember that hateful language rarely causes a change of heart.
Arm yourself with an advocacy toolkit by sourcing information from:
- Montreal SPCA’s Safer, Kinder Communities
- Animal Farm Foundation’s general pit bull advocacy
- BAD RAP’s eloquent advice and keep ‘em home advocacy
- The National Canine Research Council’s scholarly approach to safe, humane policy
- Humane Society of the United States’s concise reference list
Check your local ordinances
While breed-specific legislation is certainly on the decline, there are still communities all over the United States and abroad that persist in the heartbreakingly flawed practice of BSL. Research your local and state laws to see if there is an opportunity for creating change right in your own backyard. The more we can approach outdated, ineffective policy changes in a holistic fashion, the more lives we’ll change globally.
Support the helpers AND care for yourself
For those on the front lines in Montreal, it's important for them to feel supported as they push back against discrimination and work towards solutions for community members in need. As an international community of animal lovers, we need to provide that support.
It’s also critical for all advocates, wherever you are, to invest in the always-necessary practice of self-care. Explore some of our favorite resources from rockstars like Jessica Dolce, Sharon Salzburg, Brene Brown and more!
Create change by creating art
Art can be a powerful vehicle for protest, education, and healing. We’re heartened and inspired by Montreal artist Jean Labourdette’s murals in partnership with the Montreal SPCA. We know firsthand that art has the power to change lives and create more good in the world. Where BSL attempts to destroy, creativity can build bridges, provoke conversations and contribute to a dismantling bad policy.
It's easy to feel a bit helpless given the situation in Montreal but in the midst of a very dark moment, there are some true bright spots thanks to the collective power of the pet-loving public. The global outcry against Montreal’s legislation has the potential to help unite animal lovers throughout the world and gives us all the chance to fight for the rights of people and animals. Hate won't win.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.