City Council Holding Public Hearing On Pitbull Ordinance Tonight

Police, animal control officials say ordinance would be a good first step.


People eager to voice their thoughts on a proposed ordinance regulating the ownership of pitbulls will get a chance at City Hall tonight at the City Council's public hearing, 6:30 p.m. 

The issue has already drawn sizeable crowds during a City Council meeting and work session on the merits of regulating ownership of the breed.

The ordinance, introduced for the first time Oct. 15 by City Council President John Ward, would ban anyone who does not already own a pitbull from acquiring one, require muzzles on existing dogs and require owners to take out $100,000 liability insurance policies on their animals. It would also require a sign warning others that a dangerous dog is kept there, and call for pitbulls to be put down if discovered in violation of the law, or moved outside the city (see attached .pdf).

Among Woonsocket residents, opinion is split between people who have been attacked by pitbulls and owners who say a pitbull-specific law unfairly singles out them and their dogs.

"I'm 67 years old. How can I push away a pitbull? I can't," said Jeanne Riccio, describing how she was recently attacked by a pitbull in the city during the Oct. 15 City Council meeting.

"Can we enforce the laws we have before we make new ones?" said Matthew Desilets during the same meeting. He said people who own pitbulls and don't obey the law, letting the dogs run free, are the problem, not the pitbulls themselves.

In Pawtucket, where they've been using the same pitbull law, (Council President John Ward copied it in his proposal because of the Pawtucket's reported success with it) the ordinance  cuts down on irresponsible pitbull ownership, said Animal Control Officer John Holmes. He said the law encourages owners to spay and neuter the dogs, which reduces the numbers of the dogs, and keeps people who just want to breed and use the dogs irresponsibly out. He said with the law, people who own pitbulls just to breed and sell them as attack dogs don't stay in the city.

City Councilman Bob Moreau, a Woonsocket policeman for 23 years, agreed with Holmes and Police Captain Michael Lemoine, who said pitbulls specifically are the cause of serious dog bites. "I have never gone to any other dog bite call," except for pitbulls, Moreau said.

A regular City Council meeting will follow the public hearing.

Matthew Desilets November 12, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Jaloney Caldwell please provide your source for the "studies" done because all I am seeing are numbers that seem to smell a bit funny to me.
Matthew Desilets November 12, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Jaloney Caldwell It is my American right to choose to own whatever dog type I want as long as I properly train and handle it. According to the ATTS Airdale Terriers scored a 77.7 on the temperament test and as far as apples for apples go these dogs both have similar sizes and are also known for being somewhat more dog aggressive without the proper training.
Matthew Desilets November 12, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Jaloney Caldwell you are basically saying that if its not a Pitbull its ok for them to attack kill and maim children. by your own words 4 people per day are involved in a Pitbull attack.. so lets talk about the other 1004 dog bites that require medical attention that also happen every day. We are not asking for lax laws here we want strong laws that include ALL dogs and protect ALL people. I do not know where you got the number 4 from but my number of 1008 comes from the following: Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nonfatal Dog Bite–Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments — United States, 2001
Andie November 13, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Jaloney Caldwell, Miami Dade despite it's ban on pitbulls spanning several decades is not a pit bull free county, you'd think if this legislation was effective it would be, the problem with curbing dog bites is with the owners of dogs, all dogs. Legislation that is effective in preventing dog bites includes all breeds of dogs. As for your impression of Miami Dade, a quick google search for Pitbull Miami turns up recent results one as recent as September of this year, something you'd think if this ban was effective would not happen particularly if no pitbulls have been allowed in the area in 23 years.
Local Resident November 17, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Pitlover, that is true.....so should we just leave it alone and continue letting people basically abuse the breed? I so agree that a pit can be loveable. But truly something does need to be done. It should be hardier for a person to breed not matter what the bred unless they have a permit to be a bredder.


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