WOONSOCKET – City Council President John F. Ward is proposing a new ordinance designed to curb the city’s population of pit bulls and other “fierce, dangerous or vicious” dogs.
The most dramatic provision of the measure would be to prohibit any new pit bills bulls in the city after the law is passed. The only legal pit bulls would be those registered by their owners before the law goes into effect, and registration itself would come with onerous new requirements, including a $100,000 worth of liability insurance on the animal.
Modeled after an ordinance on the books in Pawtucket for several years, the proposal comes after three people were sent to the hospital with bite wounds after a highly publicized pit bull attack on Sayles Street last month.
“The police department has been asking us to do this because we have pit bulls all over the city,” said Ward. “They think it would make the city safer.”
Though the measure on the agenda of a council meeting Monday night, Ward said it will surely be tabled for a future vote to give the council an opportunity to discuss the proposal and gather feedback from police, pet owners and Animal Control Officer Doris Kay. He said he intends to invite Pawtucket Animal Control Officer John Holmes to talk to the city council about how the law is working in that city.
Under the proposal, all breeds of dogs commonly referred to as pit bulls, and their owners, would be affected, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier “or any dog of mixed breed displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds.”
The law would also require legally registered pit bulls to be spayed or neutered and restrict owners to keeping the animals in escape-proof enclosures on their own property. If the dog is away from the property it would either have to be leashed, muzzled, or in a temporary enclosure.
No properly registered pit bull could be sold or given away within the city, and if by chance a female gave birth to a litter of puppies the owner would be required to remove the offspring from the city by the time they are eight weeks old or surrender them to the animal control officer to be euthanized.
No one under the age of 21 could lawfully own a pit bull under any circumstances.
Scofflaws could be fined $250 for violating any aspect of the law, $500 for a repeat offense. Additionally, anyone who violated the prohibition on bringing a pit bull into the city after the law takes effect could face up to 30 days in jail.