Pawtucket, Rhode Island Defiant in Maintaining BSL; “Pit Bull” Owner Plans to Sue

By Editor
In Breed-Specific Legislation
Aug 16th, 2013
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Writing about Boston and how they were forced to repeal their breed-specific legislation (BSL) after the state passed a law prohibiting breed-specific laws made me wonder why Pawtucket, Rhode Island hasn’t also had to repeal its BSL after Rhode Island likewise passed a law prohibiting breed-specific laws.  In fact, Boston and Pawtucket have both acknowledged, though indirectly, that crime is really the problem in their respective cities, not “pit bulls,” yet their Animal Controls defiantly back BSL anyway.

For instance, Boston’s Animal Control Director, Mark Giannangelo, acknowledged:

“We suspect that people are breeding ["pit bulls"] in the city neighborhoods to sell on the street for $50 or $100, and they’re not professional breeders . . .”

And of course when you have black market “pit bull” breeding, it’s usually for something criminal, like dog fighting, and dog fighting often attends other crimes like drug dealing, prostitution, and gang banging.  Like I said in my prior post, Boston’s BSL didn’t stop unscrupulous breeders or abusive dog owners; it simply drove them underground and made them a nice cushy black market from which to profit.

Similar to Boston’s Animal Control Director, Pawtucket’s Animal Control Officer John Holmes, told the Providence Journal that,

“Pawtucket has witnessed a substantial drop in attacks by pit bulls since the city ban. Before that, Pawtucket experienced significant problems, sometimes associated with people involved in criminal activity, with pit bulls that had been trained to become vicious, or with people who were indiscriminate pit bull breeders,” he said.

Therefore, 1) the ACO admits the problem was crime, not “pit bulls.”  2) He believes it was the BSL that solved the crime problem in Pawtucket, not stepped-up policing and law enforcement, which is dubious.  3) He acknowledges, though unwittingly, that there is a difference between inherent viciousness from a breed, which doesn’t exist, versus criminals training so-called “pit bulls” to be vicious, which often happens when drug dealers and other criminals train dogs of any breed to protect their drug houses, etc. 4) Because the problem was really crime and not so-called “pit bulls,” Pawtucket has unjustly adversely affected law-abiding “pit bull” owners, opening themselves up to an inevitable lawsuit. 

And speaking of lawsuits, that’s just exactly what one Pawtucket resident – Al Alix — plans to do after he violated Pawtucket’s leash law three times and was told to get rid of his “pit bull” Chubs, or Pawtucket would get rid of Chubs for him.  Alix admitted to the local paper that,

“. . . he violated Pawtucket’s leash law when he allowed his pit bull, Chubs, to escape from his yard three straight nights earlier this month. As he was momentarily using the bathroom, he said, Chubs ‘wandered off into the street’.”

Well, I certainly can’t defend the leash law violation, but then Mr. Alix isn’t defending it either.  He’s simply saying he shouldn’t have to lose his dog because of it. (Mr. Alix also maintains that his dog was reported because of long-standing issues with his neighbors unrelated to the dog.  Indeed, it is not uncommon for retribution to be a consequence of breed-specific legislation.)

Pawtucket’s Animal Control Officer, John Holmes, sees it differently.  In response to the incident, Mr. Holmes said,

“. . . ‘the fact of the matter is that the dog got loose and some of the neighbors got upset, so I had no choice.’ The dog ‘is loose quite often’. . . “

Pawtucket’s ACO seems to be confusing a free-roaming dog issue with a “pit bull” issue.  What does one have to do with the other?  The dog got loose.  The owner was cited.  If that is a recurring incident, then why not change Pawtucket’s ordinance to add escalating fines and penalties?  As I have said so many times, it is the free-roaming of a dog that is the potential danger, not the breed of the free-roaming dog that is the potential danger. 

Pawtucket seems to be confusing a leash law violation for a “pit bull” issue and it looks like they’re about to land themselves in court because of it.  Again, I see no reason why if Boston had to repeal their breed-specific ordinance after Massachusetts prohibited breed-specific legislation that Pawtucket shouldn’t also repeal their breed-specific ordinance after Rhode Island prohibited breed-specific legislation.  Hopefully if Mr. Alix can secure an attorney to challenge the City of Pawtucket, the court finds the same. 

 

 
 

 

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