Lawsuit brewing over Pawtucket's pit bull ban

Lawsuit brewing over Pawtucket's pit bull ban

Al Alix's mother, June Alix, in the back yard with their pit bull Chubs. Al Alix says city officials are way off base in trying to take the pit bull from their family in the face of a new state law he says overturns Pawtucket's 2004 ban on the breed.

PAWTUCKET - A local man says he could be the one to take down the city's pit bull ban once and for all if he is forced to take legal action.

Life-long resident Al Alix, a Tolman High School graduate and local real estate agent, told The Breeze that city officials have asked him to get rid of his pit bull. If he doesn't, they'll move to have it taken away from him.

"Why they feel they can break the new state law is beyond me," said Alix.

The Rhode Island General Assembly this year overwhelmingly approved a bill by Providence Rep. Tom Palangio to prohibit communities from implementing bans on certain breeds of dogs. Palangio, a dog lover, has made no secret that the bill was aimed directly at Pawtucket's pit bull ban.

City officials believe that the bill, which was sponsored on the Senate side by North Providence Sens, Frank Ciccone and Dominick Ruggerio, does not have a bearing on ordinances already in place, like theirs, but only on future ones.

Palangio has conceded that Pawtucket's bill can remain in effect as long as no one from the city enforces the 2004 ban, which he previously said would likely prompt a challenge in court. Once that challenge is made, said Palangio, he believes the courts will decide that Pawtucket's pit bull ban violates state law.

In a Facebook post last Friday, Alix unleashed on city officials.

"I have violated the leash law in the city of Pawtucket and because my dog is a pit bull they want to punish him and take him away from me and my 84-year-old Mom," he wrote. City officials will be in violation of the new state law if they follow through, Alix contends.

"Looking like I will be fighting City Hall," he wrote. "Pawtucket, you are not above the law."

Alix told The Breeze he has already contacted officials from the Rhode Island ACLU, who have indicated an interest in his case but have asked for more documentation. If that step doesn't go anywhere, said Alix, he plans to go straight to Palangio to see what help he and others in the General Assembly can give him in fighting the city.

Alix freely admits 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."

Alix said he subsequently noticed small yard items like decorative rabbits showing up in his yard. The items appeared to have been mangled somewhat by Chubs. When he realized that the items belonged to his long-time neighbor on Harris Street, he offered to buy her new ones. But the neighbor said the items had been there for decades and they had sentimental value that could not be replaced.

The neighbor subsequently filed a complaint with Animal Control Officer John Holmes, who told The Breeze he had "no choice" but to start proceedings to take the dog away. A father of three small children across the street was among other neighbors who also complained informally, according to Holmes.

Chubs is not a bad dog and his mother June loves him, said Alix. Pit bulls do not deserve their negative stigma, he said, and Pawtucket leaders "are in the minority" in thinking they should be outlawed.

Alix said he came about taking Chubs in about 15 months ago when his daughter moved away. He has been living with his mother and Chubs during that time.

He said that the neighbor who complained is the same one who has been complaining about various issues with his family since he was a child.

Holmes said on Sunday that he understands the emotional aspect involved with someone having to give up their dog, but said his "hands are tied" by Pawtucket's pit bull ban, which he has advocated for keeping.

From what he can tell, Alix is a "very nice guy," said Holmes, "but 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," added Holmes.

"Like I told Mr. Alix, we have a signed complaint, so we have to act," he said. "We have to enforce the laws of the city of Pawtucket."

Animal Control officers were aware that Chubs was living at the Alix home approximately two months prior to the complaint from Alix's neighbor, said Holmes, but he said he was under the impression at that point that Alix was planning to move the dog out of the city, so no action was taken.

Alix is due in Pawtucket Municipal Court early next month to answer the violation of the leash law, said Holmes, and it will be at that point that officials decide on further action in the matter.

Mayor Donald Grebien said Sunday that he received a call last week from Alix, a former campaign worker for the mayor's 2010 run. Alix is concerned that city officials are taking the wrong position, said Grebien, but attorneys for the city have already said that Pawtucket officials are acting appropriately to continue enforcing the ban on pit bulls. Pawtucket officials believe pit bulls attract the wrong crowd to the city and pose a danger to the public because of how they're bred and trained.

Alix has had "three or four issues with the neighbors," said Grebien, so officials had "no other option but to remove the pit bull at this time."

Comments

Sounds like this guy has no business owning a dog if he can't keep it on a leash. Sad that he is using the breed ban controversy to his end.

Good luck. Pit bull is not a breed. It's a generic term for several breeds of dogs and mixed breed dogs that look like some one's version of a pit bull. It's a guessing game. That's one reason why breed bans are wrong. Punish the reckless dog owners and please leave the responsible dog owners alone and please leave dogs alone that have not done anything wrong please. Also, what is the wrong crowd according to the town of paw tuckered out? It's ironic the town has paw in its name and judges dogs by their looks and not their behavior.

Not only is he having problems with having a pit bull but he owns an apartment house and it is INFESTED with MICE and BEDBUGS also has possums living in the basement maybe the Health Department should come check this out any feedback on how to get something done about this would be appreciated

Alix Don't let them do this. It your family pet and if the neighbor is such a jerk and never like your family then the Mayor Grebien should take that as part of what going on and SHAME ON YOU city of Pawtucket."The dog mangled small yard items like decorative rabbits That no reason to ban him from the city and the sad part Alix I live in Reading ma and they have a lease law here too but you see dogs all the time off lease but they are not pits and it OK but if it was my pit that would be a difference story

Rhode Island HB5671, the bill to outlaw breed discrimination passes full Senate
Posted on July 3, 2013 by krisdiaz9 | Leave a comment

UPDATED: 7/16/2013: The Governor has signed this bill into law. Rhode Island now prohibits breed discriminatory laws on the state level.

Rhode Island HB5671 was passed by the full Senate today with a vote of 21-6.

The bill has moved along very quickly after an initial stall out of the gate. Introduced in late February, the bill was held for study by the House committee. The House committee passed the bill on June 20th and in 13 days the bill moved from the first step to the last.

There was opposition to this bill from the legislators in municipalities that have breed discriminatory laws in place, as well as some legislators who were undecided and abstained from voting.

Most notably, legislators from Pawtucket have been in the news speaking out against the bill. They expressed concerns that this bill would make their communities unsafe and had attempted to mount an e-mail campaign to oppose HB5671. What this bill will do is make sure that all responsible citizens have their rights intact, and make municipalities address the real cause of dangerous dogs of any kind, reckless and negligent dog owners. Officials have said in news accounts that, if passed, they will abide by the new law but it remains to be seen if they will comply willingly.

It does appear that the bill will not allow places with existing breed discriminatory laws to keep them. According to sources, Pawtucket attempted to get grandfathered in during the Senate committee but was not successful.

The bill must be enrolled before it gets to the Governors desk. After enrollment HB5671 will move to Governor Lincoln D. Chafee’s desk to be signed into law.

After being signed into law, Rhode Island will become the 16th state to outlaw breed discriminatory laws on the state level.

Please take a moment to reach out to the Governor to politely and briefly ask that he sign HB5671 into law. Remember to put “Support HB5671″ in the subject line so they topic may be easily accessed.

Governor Lincoln D. Chafee: governor@governor.ri.gov

Please also take a moment to write to the bills sponsor and co-sponsors and thank them for all the hard work they put into this bills passage.

Sponsor: Rep. Thomas Palangio:rep-palangio@rilin.state.ri.us

Co-sponsors:
Rep. Charlene Lima: rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us
Rep. Anastasia Williams :rep-williams@rilin.state.ri.us
Rep. John DeSimone: rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us
Rep. Peter Palumbo :rep-palumbo@rilin.state.ri.us

Thank you Melissa and Dennis.