bout half a dozen people took advantage of the public comment period during Monday’s City Council meeting to talk about a proposed pitbull ban, which was tabled until Nov. 5 pending a work session Monday and a public hearing.
Most of the speakers were opposed to the ban, advocated for an ordinance that addressed all breeds and for enforcement of existing dog ordinances.
The ordinance, introduced for the first time Monday night 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).
Ward said he took the law verbatim from Pawtucket’s ordinance, which has been on the books for years without legal challenge.
Lisa Paradis said her pitbulls, which are like family to her, were a big reason she worked hard to recover from a serious heart condition. She said she takes good care of her dogs and is a responsible owner, but irresponsible dog owners will still be a danger if her dog is muzzled. “Dogs can still come up to us and attack us,” Paradis said, “I’m a little bit more worried about some of the people who are moving into the community.”
“When it happens to you, you know exactly how it feels,” said Jeanne Riccio, describing how a pitbull recently attacked her. “I’m 67 years old. How can I push away a pitbull? I can’t,” she said.
“Can we enforce the laws we have before we make new ones?” said Matthew Desilets. He said people who own pitbulls and don’t obey the law, letting the dogs run free, are the problem, not the pitbulls themselves.
Roland Joyal agreed with Desilets. “You have to punish the people who are constantly violating these laws,” Joyal said.
Ward said he had experienced a pitbull attack himself. He said he was walking his black lab, an older dog who wouldn’t harm anything, on Logee Street when an unleashed pitbull attacked it.
He said that regardless of whether the ordinance passes, “It was a conversation that we needed to have. If it doesn’t pass, it doesn’t pass.”
Ward said that though he appreciates that pitbull attacks are the fault of the owners in many cases, it’s the pitbulls that have to be the focus of the law. “If we could save the dog, and lose the owner, I don’t have a problem with that, sometimes,” he said.
The council voted unanimously to table the ban until Nov. 5, and scheduled a work session Monday with members of the Woonsocket Police Department and the RISPCA.
Ward said a public hearing on the matter will also be scheduled.
Related Topics: City Council pitbull ordinance, Dogs, Pitbull ban, and Pitbulls