Pit bull owner to city: Let's fight

Pit bull owner to city: Let's fight

Defenders of Animals will finance legal battle

PAWTUCKET - Saying he's setting out to save his "boy" Chubs and "allow all of his sisters and brothers" in the pit bull family the right to live in Pawtucket, local resident Al Alix has launched his legal fight against the city.

Alix is promising a battle against the city he's called home since he was a child, saying he'll work to put an end to Pawtucket's 2004 ban on pit bulls. Financing his effort will be the Defenders of Animals, a Providence-based group with a mission "to defend the inalienable rights of both companion animals and wildlife..."

Defenders of Animals is led by Dennis Tabella, who also serves as executive director of Pawtucket's Woodlawn Community Development Corporation and the Woodlawn Community Center, an organization that receives community development funds from the city each year.

Providence-based Law Office of Mark Morse serves as legal counsel to the Defenders of Animals and is representing the organization and Alix as they fight Pawtucket's pit bull ban and to uphold a new state law prohibiting such breed-specific ordinances.

According to Morse, Alix has been charged with violations both of the city's leash laws and its ban on pit bulls. Depending on the outcome of a hearing in Pawtucket Municipal Court on Sept. 13, Morse and the Defenders of Animals team are prepared to go to court, said Morse on Monday.

"If they continue to enforce the ordinance, then I think we'll seek redress," he said.

Alix told The Breeze that Sept. 13 is the day "my boy Chubs will be starting the process to allow all of his brothers and sisters the right to be in Pawtucket and to stop the pain that so many families have gone through and to prevent it in the future."

Alix is pushing for "1,000 people" to attend the 9 a.m. hearing on Sept. 13. The Defenders of Animals and Morse will help show Pawtucket officials "they are not above the law," he said.

Dylan Zelazo, spokesman fo Mayor Don Grebien, reiterated this week that the administration believes the new state law is "prospective in nature," and therefore does not impact the city law in effect.

"Public safety remains of paramount priority," he said. "As Chief King has previously stated, 'as chief of police, I want to assure all the citizens of Pawtucket that the Police Department will fairly and impartially enforce all the ordinances of the city of Pawtucket. This includes but is not limited to Chapter 116 Section 37.1 of the ordinances concerning the banning of pit bulls in the city."

On advice from City Solicitor Frank Milos, King feels his department is "on sound legal ground to continue to enforce this ordinance, which was enacted for the safety of the public."

As for Alix's potential lawsuit, said Zelazo, "the city cannot respond to any speculative litigation and will respond to any litigation that may be filed in due course."

The Breeze reported on Aug. 15 that Alix was considering a lawsuit against his home city after animal control officers started proceedings against him for having a pit bull and allowing it to escape his yard on multiple occasions.

Alix, a local real estate agent, told The Breeze that city officials have asked him to get rid of his pit bull, but he has refused.

The Rhode Island General Assembly this year overwhelmingly approved a bill by Providence state Rep. Tom Palangio to prohibit communities from implementing bans on certain breeds of dogs. Palangio 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 but only on future ones. They maintain that Pawtucket's 2004 ban on the breed remains in effect.

Alix admits that he violated Pawtucket's leash law when he allowed 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 started noticing small yard items like decorative rabbits showing up in his yard. The items appeared to have been mangled by Chubs. When he realized that the items belonged to his life-long neighbor on Harris Street, he offered to buy her new ones. But the neighbor said she had the items for the past 40 years and they had sentimental value that could not be replaced.

The neighbor filed an official complaint with Animal Control Officer John Holmes, who later said 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.

Alix said he came about housing Chubs about 15 months ago when his daughter moved away. Chubs has been living with Alix and his mother, June, ever since.


What needs to be pointed out here is that many breeds of dogs have the facial and body characteristics of a “pit bull,” but are actually not pit bulls at all, including mixes of Labrador retrievers, bulldogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, mastiffs and many others.

Legislation targeting specific breeds simply does not work because dog attacks result from multiple factors, not just a simple breakdown of breed culpability.

Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, the American Veterinary Medical Association and The National Canine Research Council, as well as independent researchers, all agree that BSL is not productive.

City and town officials need to support mandatory Spaying and neutering of dogs--all breeds not just pit bulls.

Unneutered male dogs are more than 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs, while female dogs in heat or nursing are much more dangerous than spayed females. The behavior of intact animals can be unpredictable.

Researchers agree that better statistics on dog bites could greatly improve our ability to firmly identify the factors that should be the primary focus for improving public safety. Research to date is primarily based on incomplete police and hospital records, as well as newspaper articles. Incomplete data includes failure to record the location of bites, age and sex of the dog, age and sex of the victim, circumstances surrounding the bites and accurate breed identification.

Defenders of Animals is in favor of dog training and socialization of all breeds. Basic training is as important for the owner as it is for the dog, and socialization is the key to a well-adjusted adult dog. Rhode Island and near-by Massachussetts have excellent dog trainers.

Defenders of Animals has requested and supported successful ordinances and a RI state law that prohibits chaining dogs for long periods of time without proper shelter, food, or water. Chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite. Tethering or chaining dogs increases their stress, protectiveness and vulnerability, thereby increasing the potential for aggression. Fencing is the better solution.

In addition, officials in Rhode Island are allowing individuals and groups to import dogs from the South; many of these dogs would be classified as pit bull types. We need to stop this practice in order to keep the dog population down in RI while cracking down on back-yard breeders.

We can’t continue to punish responsible dog owners that have dogs that would be classified as pit bulls when they have their dogs neutered, inoculated, have had certified dog trainers train their dogs, and follow local leash laws. This notion of treating all pit bull type dog owners as criminals is wrong.

Cities/towns need to enact stronger animal control laws and provide better resources for enforcing existing laws rather than having breed specific laws.

Your recent story regarding pit bulls stated that the Woodlawn Community Center receives $100,000 from the city of Pawtucket. That is not correct. Due to automatic budget cuts from Washington, DC— known as the sequester, the city of Pawtucket was forced to make cuts regarding a number of agencies. The Woodlawn Community Center receives $15,000 not the $100,000 that your reporter stated.

June Alix and Artist ELSIE GRACE are evidence that age doesn't ALWAYS bring wisdom where dogs are concerned. Maybe a bit of dementia involved here... certainly no caring for her community's welfare and safety.


several of the families of the below listed never thought that THEIR sweet wiggle butt pibbie would kill their child or family member either...

Pit bulls killed eighteen people so far this year. Twelveof the seventeen dead are children. Remembering and mourning them again here:

Child fatalities by pit bull type dog:
Christian Gormanous - 4 yrs old.
Isaiah Aguilar - 2 yrs old.
Ryan Maxwell - 7 yrs old.
Dax Borchardt - 14 mos old.
Monica Laminack - 21 mos old.
Tyler Jett - 7 yrs old.
Jordyn Arndt - 4 yrs old.
Beau Rutlidge - 2 yrs old.
Ayden Evans- 5 yrs old.
Nephi Selu – 6 yrs old.
Arianna Jolee Nerrbach – 5 yrs old.
Deeon Higgins - 2years old

Adult fatalities by pit bull type:
Betty Todd - 65 yrs old.
Elsie Grace - 91 yrs old.
Claudia Gallardo - 38 yrs old.
Pamela Devitt - 63 yrs old.
Carlton Freeman - 80 yrs old.
Lillian Bunsie - 84 yrs old
James Hardin - 62 yrs old

I don't believe in breed specific ban laws, BUT I DO believe in leash laws! The articles says his dog has escaped his yard multiple times. Nothing is said that this dog is a danger, but a RESPONSIBLE owner will not allow this. I walk my dog 3-4 miles a day, and one of my biggest fears is a dog running loose, friendly or not. I'm a dog lover, but I admit that I'm wary of pitbulls, mostly because of irresponsible owners like this guy.

Does the city have a fund I can donate to in order to help pay to fight this group? I'm beyond sick of the tough guys who feel they need to own a pit bull to further their "image."

Bulldogs, Rhodesian ridgebacks, and mastiffs are all molosser breeds, first cousins to pit bulls and sharing their most dangerous characteristics. Of the 4,364 dogs involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks on humans occurring in the U.S. & Canada since September 1982, when I began logging the data, 2,756 (63%) were pit bulls; 536 were Rottweilers; 3,528 were of related molosser breeds, including pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, boxers, and their mixes. Of the 513 human fatalities, 260 were killed by pit bulls; 84 were killed by Rottweilers; 383 (75%) were killed by molosser breeds. Of the 2,477 people who were disfigured, 1,642 (66%) were disfigured by pit bulls; 314 were disfigured by Rottweilers; 2,053 (83%) were disfigured by molosser breeds. Pit bulls--exclusive of their use in dogfighting--also inflict about 10 times as many fatal and disfiguring injuries on other pets and livestock as on humans, a pattern unique to the pit bull class. Surveys of dogs offered for sale or adoption indicate that pit bulls and pit mixes are less than 6% of the U.S. dog population; molosser breeds, all combined, are 9%.

I am sick of people stereotyping all pits owners as tough guys who use their dogs as deadly weapons…look at that lady for goodness sake…does she look like a thug? Well neither do I! People are so adamant about banning pit bulls but ignore the fact that gun violence is among the leading causes of death and in fact poisoning, drowning and fires are all MANY MANY times more likely to kill children. If you really care about saving lives, ban guns, not pit bulls! In both cases, responsible ownership is required, but in the last 8 years less than 40 people a year have been killed by dogs. In 2010 over 30,000 people were killed by guns and 33 were killed by dogs…so you are almost 10,000 times more likely to be killed by a gun than a dog! Here is a great interactive link that shows over 8000 deaths in the last year caused by gun violence, many of which are children: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12 gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.htmll This is another great fact from USA Today..."Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine." http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/11/guns-child-deaths-m... One last item from the CDC showing the top 10 leading causes of death by age group for 2010: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/10LCID_Violence_Related_Injury_Dea... You know what I don't see on that list...Dog Attacks! Perhaps we should focus our energy on things that actually cause a high amount of fatalities, instead of something that kills less people per year than lightening strikes! (BTW: I actually support responsible gun ownership, just like I support responsible dog ownership! I’m just trying to make a point.)