Bites by pit bulls have dropped dramatically since 2004

Bites by pit bulls have dropped dramatically since 2004

Hearing on Alix's leash law violation put off to Sept. 20

PAWTUCKET - The city has seen a dramatic decline in the number of attacks by pit bulls since a 2004 ban on the breed went into effect, according to data released by local officials.

In response to an open records request by The Breeze, the Pawtucket Police Department and Pawtucket Animal Control, through City Solicitor Frank Milos, provided documents showing just how rarely pit bulls have attacked people or animals in the city since the ban was enacted.

For the four years leading up to the ban, from 2000 to 2003, officers responded to 71 incidents of biting or scratching involving pit bulls in Pawtucket, a majority of those, 51, involving attacks on people.

In the 10 years since the ban was put in place, police responded to 23 total attacks involving pit bulls, with only 13 of those involving attacks on people.

For three years, 2008, 2010, and 2012, there were no attacks by pit bulls reported, according to the information provided by the city.

The following are the 71 pit bulls attacks separated out by year for the four years before Pawtucket's pit bull ban went into effect:

* 2000 - 20 incidents, 18 involving attacks on people, two involving other animals.

* 2001 - 14 incidents, nine involving attacks on people, five on animals.

* 2002 - 17 incidents, 14 involving attacks on people, three on animals.

* 2003 - 20 incidents, 11 involving attacks on people, nine on animals.

The following are the 23 pit bull attacks in the city for the 10 years since Pawtucket's pit bull ban was unanimously approved by the Rhode Island General Assembly:

* 2004 - Eight incidents, five involving attacks on people, three involving attacks on other animals.

* 2005 - One incident involving a person being attacked.

* 2006 - Three incidents, one involving an attack on a person, two on animals.

* 2007 - Four incidents, one involving an attack on a person, three on animals.

* 2008 - No incidents.

* 2009 - Two incidents, both involving attacks on people.

* 2010 - No incidents.

* 2011 - Two incidents, both involving attacks on people.

* 2012 - No incidents.

* 2013 - Three incidents, one involving an attack on a person, two on animals.

John Holmes, Pawtucket's veteran animal control officer and the key proponent of the 2004 ban, said the numbers before and after 2004 "speak for themselves."

"The law's worked," he said. "We didn't put this law in to destroy pit bulls, in fact, quite the opposite."

The last serious pit bull attack in Pawtucket was the day the bill was signed into law, said Holmes. Residents have been safer because of the ban, he said.

"Public safety has always been the issue," he said. "They're just missing so much of what this is all about. We're going backward here."

Al Alix, the lifelong city resident and real estate agent who plans to challenge the city's pit bull ban in court, told The Breeze he questions the numbers provided by the city. Instead of taking so much time to enforce a blanket ban, said Alix, officials should be spending more time getting to know the dogs they are trying to keep out of the city, like his pit bull "Chubs."

A hearing on Alix's violation of the city's leash law has been postponed from this Friday, Sept. 13, to Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. in Pawtucket Municipal Court. Depending on the outcome of that hearing, Alix says he plans to take the city to court over their efforts to take away Chubs. If city officials came to the ball field to see all the children who come over to pet Chubs, they would have difficulty telling him that his dog poses a danger, said Alix.

"Of course" he feels badly about attacks by pit bulls, said Alix, but he remains convinced that pit bulls who go on the attack are not raised properly by caring owners. When pit bulls are outlawed, said Alix, the "bad guys" just find another type of dog to train to fight.

He also feels "sick" for the families who have had to give up their family pet in the name of a law that should never have been passed in the first place, he said.

The pit bull issue is now a "national issue," said Alix, with even President Obama coming out in August in support of the breed and against breed-specific legislation. With state legislators passing a ban this year on breed-specific legislation, said Alix, Pawtucket "doesn't stand a chance" if this conflict comes down to a court battle.

Even though the General Assembly voted this year to prohibit municipalities like Pawtucket from instituting bans on specific breeds like pit bulls, city officials say they see the law as "prospective" in nature and therefore having no impact on ordinances already in place. Police have said they'll continue enforcing the pit bull ban as long as it is in place.

Comments

Why would anyone who cares about dogs want to continue breeding dogs created to wantonly maim and kill dogs? The answer: we don't. Pit BULLY people do not care about dog welfare, they don't care about human welfare, they don't even care about pit bull welfare! They are very good at caring about themselves, their own egos, their ability to breed and own the dog of their choice. The disproportionate suffering and death, both caused by pits and suffered by pits, is acceptable to the pit mongers. Proof is their refusal to offer or accept any breed specific solutions to this breed specific crisis.

Since many/most pit owners do not care about the pit welfare, they do not spay/neuter. Consequently, pits breed and then die like flies, they fill our pounds where they MUST be killed by the ton, if only to make room for the next swarm of surplus pits, 900,000 surplus pits year after year in the USA dying from coast to coast.

Of course we should not expect pit owners to care about the victims of "good" pits who attack, they don't even care about their pit bulls themselves.

Dogs do not control any aspect of their lives. Pit bully people do not care about others. That leaves it to Society to take action to reduce the pit crisis.

There is a kind sane solution: mandatory enforced spay/neuter microchipping of all pits, pit mixes, all dog aggressive. dogs. Now that dog fighting is illegal, it's time to make breeding more fighting dogs illegal too.

Pits are different. Pits are the best at maiming and killing. Proof? Essentially all USA dog fighters, the kill or die trying type of dog fighting, use only pits.

Personally I don't like Pit bulls, but I think the issue with "Chubbs" is more about his owner. From what I have been reading in the Valley Breeze over the past few weeks, "Alix" has allowed "Chubbs' to run freely about the neighborhood where he has terrified several of the neighbors' kids (understandably so, as any big, loose dog might do), chewed up and destroyed the neighbor's treasured and irreplaceable lawn ornaments, and I would imagine violated with impunity another city ordinance, by doing his business on private and public property that his owner has not picked up!

Pit bulls might be illegal in Pawtucket, but there are people that have them and either the police and animal don't know about them or look the other way because those animals aren't allowed to run loose, destroy private property and terrify the neighborhood.

No breed of dog should be allowed to do this and if you allow your dog to do this, you should lose your dog.

In my opinion, it's not about "Chubbs', it's about "Alix". It's seems the ACLU has yet to pick up his case. It's not a bad cause. It's a bad case, with a bad fact pattern. I'm a lawyer and I wouldn't take him on as a client. He is just an irresponsible pet owner and that is the real issue here.

Margaret Lunevitz

Like most cities who give false or half information in regards to dog bites, I would like to know where their numbers are taken from. Who is reporting the breed of dog and how is it being verified? Why not try a different approach since their current one isn't working to end bites. How many "pit bulls" were registered in the city in 2004 and how many are registered in the subsequent years since the ban has been in effect? If they aren't allowed to be registered how are they still biting? no other breeds have bitten? what are all the numbers and where are they coming from.

If the dogs are banned and you have bites, the law is not working. Less dog bites when there are essentially LESS dogs being targeted because they are not allowed. The city should not be happy until here are NO bites, not well we have less that's better than nothing kind of attitude.

All owners should be accountable and all owners should be responsible. Address the owners when they are NOT responsible. Hold the owners accountable for their irresponsible ownership, don't target dogs for the bad luck of being raised by one. Its all in how you manage your dog, no matter what it looks like.

Debbie you said "Pits are different. Pits are the best at maiming and killing. Proof? Essentially all USA dog fighters, the kill or die trying type of dog fighting, use only pits."

If fighting is illegal in the United states you are using criminals as PROOF that and entire breed of dogs is bad? If the criminals are the ones partaking, why would they follow any law to spay and neuter their dog if they are already using it for illegal means? Why not make mandatory spay and neuter for every rescue or shelter dog like other states are doing. No matter what breed it is.

ANY dog bites hold and shakes its "prey" or toys mimicking prey. The behavior is not isolated to the APBT as is falsely reported by some. Most dogs labeled a pit bull are NOT APBT which is the breed of dog you are describing that was bred for fighting other dogs. Rat Terriers are also known for Dog Aggression. Jack Russell terriers were bred with Dog Aggression, German Shepherds, MANY breeds are known for potentially have dog aggression, just like any dog could potentially have dog aggression or any mix thereof, when most dogs history isn't known. ANY dog can bite another animal or human when placed into a situation it isn't comfortable. They all have teeth. Its up to all owners to manage their dogs properly. The APBT has less bite pressure than other dog breeds on average they are just like any other dog which in the wrong hands could cause damage. (google Dr. Brady Barr's study for that research.) Pretending any breed is more special or bred differently when most dogs labeled as a pit bull are not from well-bred fighting APBT dogs. Do all greyhounds or mixes love to run? no, I have a friend who has one and it hates running. Do all Border Collies herd? Nope, I know a Golden Retriever who LOVES herding. I know a Portuguese water dog who hates water.

Wow - this information is totally useless and blantantly biased. Yes, I would expect if you ban a dog you would have less bites by that dog. This is ridiculous. How about overall bites by all breeds? Have those been reduced? I want to see a report that lists all reported bites by every dog. How many retriever, jack russell, chichi? This does not mean BSL works. BSL does nothing to address responsible dog ownership - it merely kills innocent dogs. You would be better off devoting time to enforcing off leash laws. And who is deciding if a dog is a "pit bull"? Considering more than 20 breeds of dogs can be mixed to "look" like a pit, the label essentially means nothing. Every dog with short hair and a big head and muscular build is now labeled a pit bull regardless of actual genetics. This is such a poor case for trying to justify an ineffective law. You can try to spin it however you want but these "statistics" do not justify Breed Specific Legislation.

My owner is a responsible person and dog owner. I terrified no children in the neighborhood and wandered less than 25 feet when I took my neighbors lawn Rabbits that my owner offered to replace. FYI The ACLU did express a issue in my case, but my owner chose the support of the Defenders of Animals and their lawyer Mark Morse