Pawtucket, Rhode Island is crying foul over the passage of HB 5671, a new statewide law signed by Governor Lincoln Chafee on July 16, 2013, that prohibits Rhode Island municipalities from passing any kind of breed-specific legislation (BSL). Pawtucket City Council President David Moran and Mayor Donald R. Grebien lobbied Governor Chafee to keep him from signing the bill and now that he has, Pawtucket officials maintain that they are “grandfathered in” and don’t have to abide by the new state BSL prohibition law. One wonders why, if they believed themselves to be “grandfathered in” did they lobby against the bill in the first place? According to their argument, the law supposedly doesn’t affect them.
Perhaps Pawtucket officials know that their breed-specific law is unconstitutional, as is all BSL, and perhaps that’s why they are afraid of the new state law prohibiting BSL: it offers even more evidence that BSL is ineffective, prejudiced, and outdated. As such, now might be a perfect time to legally challenge the lawfulness and constitutionality of Pawtucket’s breed-specific law.
And as a post script, any time that municipalities say that their BSL has lowered their incidences of bites and attacks, as Pawtucket’s Animal Control Officer John Holmes did in a prior interview, there’s usually another reason. For instance, 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.