MN animal shelter trying to save 'outlawed' Montreal pit bulls from death

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It's true that the Canadian city of Montreal has basically outlawed pit bulls, a dog breed that's gotten a bad reputation in recent years due to some highly publicized attacks on people.

But it's not just a simple ban, and there's one arguably scary part of it that has a Minnesota animal rescue group in an uproar: potentially thousands of dogs could be put down under the new law.

But that group, Secondhand Hounds of Eden Prairie, isn't taking that possibility lying down.

In a Facebook post Thursday, the organization wrote that they are entering into a "rescue partnership" with the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), saying they'll drive the pit bulls out of there if they have to.

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"I let them know we are willing to do what it takes to save as many as we can fit in our vehicles," the update says. "I told them we are in this together and they just need to say the word. And we mean it."

The post now has over 100 comments, many of which are offering help through donations and other means. A lot of others are expressing disgust at the Montreal City Council's new law, and they're certainly not alone.

Reactions to the ban have been intense around the internet, with a Change.org petition having already gathered over 230,000 signatures asking Montreal to reverse the rule.

How the law works

The ban, which was passed this week, makes it illegal to adopt a new (key word here) pit bull.

As Snopes points out, people who already own the breed will not be required to turn them over, despite some claims (and panic) on social media that beloved pets might have to be put down.

But the pit bulls that do not have homes – like the ones in a state of limbo in dog shelters – face euthanasia, the Washington Post notes.

One of the criticisms of the law has to do with Montreal's broad definition of what a "pit bull" is, which The Dodo says covers at least three breeds (American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers).

The website also writes that about one-third of the dogs that get taken into the city's shelters every year meet the definition.

The Washington Post says the ban came about after a pit bull mauled a Montreal woman to death earlier this year.

Are pit bulls really more dangerous?

While the breed has fierce defenders, TIME says pit bulls are responsible for 68 percent of dog attacks and 52 percent of dog-related deaths – despite making up just 6 percent of the dog population.

That data, it should be mentioned, comes from the editor of Animal 24/7, which Time points out is a news organization focusing on the prevention of cruelty to animals.

Time also says the "real problem" with pit bulls is that they were bred to be violent.

Which is true. As the ASPCA notes, "Today’s pit bull is a descendant of the original English bull-baiting dog — a dog that was bred to bite and hold bulls, bears and other large animals around the face and head."

Eventually, the organization writes, the dog's owners turned them on each other in fighting rings.

Nonetheless, they point out that any breed of dog can become aggressive and dangerous if mistreated.

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