Animal shelter on hold after dog bite puts city ACO out on leave

Animal shelter on hold after dog bite puts city ACO out on leave

WOONSOCKET – The Woonsocket Animal Control Shelter is currently closed to visitors and is not keeping regular hours after the city’s only full-time animal control officer was injured in a dog attack on the job last month.

According to a report from the Woonsocket Police Department, Tiffany Marie Forrest, an animal control officer for the city, was severely injured when a pit bull in city custody attacked her as she was transporting it to a veterinary hospital on July 20. The pit bull had been picked up earlier that same day from a home on Social Street, where police responded after the dog and another pit bull began fighting in their owner’s apartment and could not be separated.

According to the report, the dog had already attacked one other individual that evening, owner Lisa Bennetti, who was bitten on both hands when she attempted to separate the animals. Bennetti locked the two dogs in the apartment before leaving to get help, and both Woonsocket Police and the Woonsocket Fire Department, along with Forrest, were summoned to remove them from the apartment. Forrest placed one of the dogs in her van, while the other dog, which was severely injured in the leg, was removed on a backboard by Woonsocket Fire personnel and placed in Bennetti’s mother’s vehicle.

Since both dogs were injured, the groups transported the animals separately to Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in East Greenwich. When she opened the cage to remove the dog, Forrest wrote in a report, the animal lunged at her and bit her on the right side of the forehead, causing a severe laceration. Veterinary staff came out to assist her and East Greenwich Police and Fire responded, transporting her to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment. Bennetti, the owner of the two dogs, had also been transported to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment earlier that night.

Though Forrest is recovering from her injuries, according to Woonsocket Deputy Police Chief Michael Lemoine, she is not expected to return to work until late August or early September, forcing the agency to improvise its staffing and hours. The shelter, under the oversight of the Woonsocket Police Department, is currently being staffed by police officers and city employees on an as-needed basis. Those employees, said Lemoine, are able to care for animals at the Woonsocket shelter if necessary, but until staffing has returned to normal, the employees are working with other area shelters to relocate animals or return them to their owners as quickly as possible.

“Until the animal is either rejoined with its own or placed in another facility, we are ensuring the animal is cared for at the Woonsocket shelter,” he said.

Prior to the attack, the shelter was open six days a week for visitors interested in meeting the animals or going through the process for adoption.

In addition to Forrest, a group of volunteers helped manage the shelter’s day-to-day activities, caring for the animals and taking them out for exercise.

Until Forrest returns to work, said Lemoine, the shelter is not maintaining regular hours and will work with the RISPCA and other agencies to relocate animals as quickly as possible.


Animal Control is seriously lacking, in fact they are failing in dealing with all the pit bulls and their mixes under their control, and in our communities. There are daily attacks on children, the elderly and actual pets. Animal Services is funded by donations and our tax dollars. They then lie to unsuspecting citizens that these canines are safe pets....and then blame those same citizens for being "bad owners" when the genetically bred fighting dog...fights and attacks. Insanity.

In the US a pit bull kills a person an average of once every 13 days. They are weapons that can pull their own trigger. Just last week 2 pitties killed 29 cats at the Dothan AL animal control center.

these dogs are ticking time bombs....with a rare good one in the mix. Many cities are banning them, rental homes,inc military bases. They have proven over and over to be dangerous and an owner or visitor is at risk of any sudden unprovoked attack. Will these 2 be put down? Need to be. Why risk any future incident.
The city also needs additional animal control officers. Police officers are stretched as it is, now having to do this because your single animal control officer is medically off duty. Allocate funds, make it safer for her. Give her a partner in the very least. I sure do wish her a speedy and safe recovery.

Why is it never a Golden Retriever?

There's something genetic in that breed of pitbulls and you'll never convince me otherwise. It's like there's a switch that goes off. Even with the best of owners, things go awry....

The police have there hands full as it is. Give the dog officer another body to help. This is not a one man show.