By Gaby Dufresne-Cyr, CBT-FLE
Here’s an interesting question no one thought of asking; who killed Mme. Vadnais? The first answer which comes to mind is the dog did. What if the system is responsible and Montreal doesn’t want to take responsibility for Mme. Vadnais’ death? Let’s explore that system together for a moment.
Dog Bites & Deaths
Cities create by-laws to protect people; therefore, when a dog bites a person or another dog, a few things can happen. Here are a few examples of a dog-dog or dog-human bite situation.
1. The victim doesn’t go to the hospital/veterinarian and doesn’t report the event to the police. Consequence: Nothing. People move on.
2. The victim goes to the hospital/veterinarian and doesn’t report the event to the police or hospital/veterinarian. Consequence: Dog owner goes free.
3. The victim doesn’t go to the hospital/veterinarian but reports the event to the police. Consequence: the police and/or canine patrol investigate, dog could die.
4. The victim goes to the hospital/veterinarian and does report the event to the police or hospital/veterinarian. Consequence: police and/or canine patrol investigate, dog normally dies.
When police investigate they assess and identify the dog. If the dog is deemed dangerous police can shoot to kill the canine, take the animal into custody, call the canine patrol, or leave the dog in his family. Once police are called, a mandatory ten-day quarantine is established. The following by-laws are from Mme. Vadnais’ borough of Pointe-aux-Trembles (sorry, it’s in French).
En Français - Règlement en Vigeur à Pointe-aux-Trembles
SECTION III COMPORTEMENT À L’ÉGARD D’UN ANIMAL
10. Tout chien doit être conduit au moyen d’une laisse d’une longueur maximale de 1,85 mètre.
Le premier alinéa ne s’applique pas lorsque le chien :
- 2° est gardé sur le terrain où est située l’unité d’occupation du gardien au moyen d’un dispositif de contention l’empêchant de sortir lorsque le terrain n’est pas clôturé;
- 3° se trouve sur le terrain où est située l’unité d’occupation du gardien, lequel est clôturé de manière à le contenir à l’intérieur des limites de celui-ci;
18. Le gardien d’un chien qui a mordu un autre animal ou une personne, doit museler l’animal en tout temps ou pour une période déterminée par l’autorité compétente lorsqu’il se trouve à l’extérieur de l’unité d’occupation.
By the look of things, the fence that separated the two homes had to be known as problematic. Someone, somewhere, must have complained. I mean dogs and fences don’t become problematic overnight. My experience tells me if the city of Montreal had applied the current by-laws Mme. Vadnais would be alive today.
When a dog bite is reported, police, veterinarians, canine patrol, thus the city, create a file. From there on, the dog has a known bite history. The dog that killed Mme. Vadnais had a known bite history. Heck, I can name a few dogs right now without having to think about that have a known bite history.
The victim’s family is grieving a tragic event, and they are angry. I totally understand their plea, but the dog is not the one responsible for this crime. I’m weighing my words because I really want to write murder. The owner of the dog has a criminal record (not that it's important), his dog had a bite history (this IS important), and the city knew about it, yet humans cried wolf and blamed the dog. I’m flabbergasted!!! It’s a DOG people, just another canine from the genus Canidae.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree
How can a dog be blamed for a person’s death while his human walks free? How can Denis Coderre, Montreal mayor, head of the bureaucratic process, and the victim’s family not press charges against the human behind the dog? Why doesn’t the Vadnais family sue the city of Montreal? After all, a dog is a DOG, and Montreal is in charge of our safety against dangerous dogs.
Let me tell you who killed Mme. Vadnais, the city of Montreal did. Through inefficient, or should I say nonexistent, application of the current by-laws, a lady lost her life. Denis Coderre knows this, yet refuses to take responsibility for the tragic death. Banning a specific breed is not going to solve the problem. It certainly won’t bring Mme. Vadnais back. BSL isn’t going to make people accountable for their dogs, it won’t address the current off-leash dog problem, and it absolutely won’t prevent another tragedy.
Better Safe than Sorry
I understand you might hate dogs or a specific kind of dog, but the only way to prevent a human death is through accountability and education. Unfortunately, Denis Coderre has no leadership or long-term vision for both solutions. Montreal’s mayor has lost all credibility. To blame a dog for a human death is just ludicrous. If my car rolled out of the driveway and killed your son, whose fault would it be? My car? No. I would be responsible.
It doesn’t matter which breed of dog killed Christiane Vadnais. What matters is that Denis Coderre and his administration took three (3) years to address a problem, and now they are addressing the situation out of anger and media-made fear-mongering. If M. Coderre had taken his responsibility seriously and addressed the off-leash dog problem in 2013-2014 by simply enforcing current by-laws, Mme. Vadnais would undoubtedly be alive today.
I rest my case.
Hugo Duchaine and Frédérique Giguère. (2016) Le chien avait déjà attaqué deux fois. Retrieved from http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2016/06/10/le-chien-avait-deja-attaque-deux-fois September 2016.