Pit bull attacks on the rise since ban overturned

Pit bull attacks on the rise since ban overturned

PAWTUCKET – Local attacks by pit bulls have trended sharply upward since a judge tossed out the city’s ban on the breed back in 2013.

During the 10 years the city had the ban in place, starting in 2004, there were 23 total attacks involving pit bulls.

But data provided to The Breeze in response to a public records request this week shows there have been 116 attacks where pit bulls or pit bull mixes were the aggressor in the five years since the ban was overturned, or more than 10 times as many per year since the ban was lifted.

There were 319 total dog bites/attacks involving people or other animals from July 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2019, with those 116, or more than 36 percent of the total, attributed to pit bulls or pit bull mixes.

The data shows the numbers have been fairly consistent in the first couple of years after 2014 and since. There were 103 total reports of dog bites between July 1, 2014, and March 31, 2016, 34 of those where the pit bulls were deemed the aggressors. There have been nearly two pit bull attacks per month since the ban was overturned in 2013, with slight monthly average increases since 2016.

City employees spent the past few weeks gathering the data, but weren’t able to provide annual breakdowns on the numbers. City officials did not comment on the numbers.

The Breeze reported back in 2013 that there were 71 incidents of biting or scratching involving pit bulls in the four years leading up to the 2004 ban. Of those, 51 involved attacks on people. In the 10 years after it was put in place, there were 23 total attacks, 13 of them involving people, including no reported attacks in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Former Animal Control Officer John Holmes, the key voice behind the 2004 ban, said in 2013 that the numbers spoke for themselves, saying residents were safer with the ban in place.

“The law worked,” he said at the time. “We didn’t put this law in to destroy pit bulls, in fact, quite the opposite.”

Among the attacks since the ban was lifted have been some high-profile ones, including the attack and killing of a small dog near Slater Park in 2016 and the attack of a woman and her dog near Hicks and Abbott streets last month, an incident in which the dog was killed and its owner injured.

Officials have also noted how the Pawtucket Animal Shelter has also been routinely full of pit bulls since the ban was reversed.

Local leaders previously criticized the judge’s ruling to overturn the ban, asking repeatedly that it be reversed.


who would have thought,,,,

Thank you for reporting these statistics. The pit bull advocacy has been systematically going around the United States identifying cities with pit bull bans, and approaching them with their messages that 'pit bulls aren't dangerous and won't you please remove your ban'. It has been effective in removing the bans and public safety has been compromised. It takes TIME after the removal of a ban to log statistics of new injuries caused by pit bulls and to see the stats go up (again). Meanwhile, people get hurt.

Only by publishing these very real statistics about the effectiveness of pit bull bans can we have real hope that other legislators will listen when we tell them that (a) pit bulls are dangerous, AND (b) pit bull bans work to increase public safety.