The headlines following a 37 to 23 vote by Montreal city councillors in favor of breed-specific legislation effectively “banning” dogs remotely appearing to be pit bulls on September 27 were predictably sensational, such as The Dodo’s Montreal Just Delivered A Death Sentence To Thousands Of Dogs. The horror!
Except that isn’t what the law did at all. The Montreal SPCA warned that any dogs at the shelter without an owner could be euthanized under the law, and that was all it took for the panicked GoFundMe campaigns to start.
One campaign in particular ended up in my inbox several times in the days following the announcement of the “Montreal pit bull ban.” Individuals — most of them animal welfare or rescue volunteers — expressed concerns that the supposed ‘plan’ lacked specifics, and that it seemed to skirt around the concerted and powerful efforts of the Montreal SPCA.
This is the campaign as it appears today:
The original campaign story as it read on September 27 has been replaced with the following:
From BARC’s Rescue and Wings Of Rescue: Thank you so much for your very generous donations!
We have reached our first goal and the first flight is fully funded, foster homes are secured and we are in the process of selecting the lucky dogs that will be on the plane. Our commitment to the dogs of Montreal is long term and in the mean time we encourage you to contact the Montreal politicians to repeal this misguided and reprehensible piece of legislation. Our goal is to keep families and their beloved pets safe and together. If the new law is overturned and our rescue flights are not required, we will cheerfully refund your donations.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we can read the original story and see the original campaign even though it has disappeared into the ether:
I am just someone who is trying to save dogs!!
Montreal today has just passed breed specific legislation against pitbull type dogs. As you all know that puts a death sentence on all dogs in shelter that look a certain way. I have a contact that can get dogs out but its expensive and I need everybodys help! All the money raised will go directly to wings of rescue a rescue based in California who will fly in a metroliner to Plattsburgh, VT. The cost will be $16, 000 so to make sure we have enough for emergency costs our goal is $20, 000. They will be flown to calgary. Approximately 40 to 60 dogs can be flown. We will need people to drive dogs to Plattsburgh.
I thank everybody who has helped and spread the word! Lets get these babies to safety!
Many questions were raised in the comment section on that particular GoFundMe campaign page, especially after the campaign organizer was called out for using a photo of someone else’s dog to raise funds. Add to that, the entire thing seemed to be a knee-jerk reflex to the new law, lacking thorough planning. “Trying to save dogs” is a noble desire, however requires a lot more than just said desire to be accomplished responsibly.
Anyhoo, that campaign ended up raising $26k before closing donations as the Montreal SPCA announced the law had been suspended indefinitely as it is worked out in court. Meaning this random person “trying to save dogs” doesn’t need $25k to move blocky-headed dogs of unknown lineage out of Montreal.
The latest update, posted yesterday, promises donors they’ll get refunds as the dogs no longer need the help (at least for now):
Wings of Rescue and BARCS Rescue are thrilled today after hearing Montreal Justice Louis J. Gouin has ordered a stay of the Montreal By-Laws targeting certain breeds, namely those prohibiting the adoption of “Pit Bull type dogs” and requiring these dogs be muzzled.
Therefore, we are immediately refunding all donations which were made to us for the Montreal Pit Bulls. Please be aware we have no control over refunding the percentage Go Fund Me keeps and are unable to refund their percentage. Refunds can take 3-5 business days to appear back in your account.
Countless other campaigns purporting to help the pit bulls of Montreal still remain on GoFundMe.
As for the law? “The fight is far from being over, but we are very pleased with this first victory” states Sophie Gaillard, lawyer for the Animal Advocacy Department of the Montreal SPCA.