Pawtucket City Council looking to reinstate ban on pit bulls

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The city of Pawtucket is looking to reinstate a “breed specific” ban on pit bulls after a vicious dog panel voted last week to return a pit bull-boxer mix to its owners after it mauled another dog to death in June.

The city’s ban on pit bulls was lifted in 2014 after a Providence Couty Superior Court ruled the city could no longer enforce the ordinance.  After the recent case, city council members say they want to bring the ban back.

“I think it comes down to how responsible you are as a pit bull owner,” said council president David P. Moran. “It wasn’t supposed to be breed specific – it just so happens that pit bulls are causing the issues in Pawtucket.”

Originally, the city had an ordinance banning the breed from being owned in the city for about a decade. During that ten-year period – from 2004 until 2014 – opponents argued the ban unjustly forced owners to give up their dogs or leave the city. Rep. Thomas Palangio, who sponsored the state legislation, agreed.

Rep. Thomas Palangio, who sponsored the state legislation, agreed.

“No specific breed of dog is intrinsically bad or vicious or dangerous. It is the owner or handlers [that] can make a certain dog vicious, but entire breeds of dogs should not be outlawed based on the way some of them are trained.”

Two years later, city council members still don’t agree.

“I hate to say it but it’s almost like a helpless feeling right now,” said Moran. “We’re just hoping that the pit bulls owners are being responsible. And that we don’t have these types of issues that we had two or three weeks ago where an innocent dog was mauled by a pit bull.”

Moran said the council cannot revisit the topic unless state law is changed – which they are pushing for in January.

“The State House is only in session for six months – usually from January to June but you want to start early,” Moran said. “So we want them to hopefully start early talking to their colleagues in January and February and see if they can get some support for us.”

Moran said the council will continue to make calls and work on pushing this topic until January.

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