Friday, February 28, 2014

Pawtucket RI Animal Control Supervisor Comments on the Success of Pawtucket's Pit Bull Ban

Pawtucket, RI
Population 2011: 71,153
Median Income $39,628 well below RI median income of $55,975 and the US median income of $52,762.
Economic base: textiles, Hasbro toy manufacturer, jewelry, silverware and metals
Supposed cost of just implementing BSL according to BFAS BSL calculator: $112,132
Actual 2011 total animal control operating expenses (with 9 year old ban): $124,920

The following is an excerpt from a radio interview on February 21, 2013 NightSide with Dan Rea with guests Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo  and Amy Conrad.  Dan Rea and guests are discussing the Massachusetts ban on BSL.  John Holmes, the animal control supervisor for the city of Pawtuckett, calls in to share his city's experience with a ban on pit bulls.

Transcribed excerpt:
Dan: Back to the phones we go…let's go to John Holmes in Rhode Island…John how are you tonight?
John: Good, how are you?
Dan: Good, What's up?
John: I just want to say I'm the Animal Control Supervisor in Pawtucket.
Dan: Ooh, great! Thank you for calling in.
John: You're entirely welcome.  We did put the law banning in 2004 banning pit bulls in the city of Pawtucket.  And I just want to say right up front that I do agree with the young lady that, I forgot her name
Dan: Amy
John: Amy, there are good pit bull owners.  What we did was, we were known as the pit bull capital of Rhode Island, the number of bites that were publicized in the late 90s - 2000s.  We looked at this for a number of years…  And let me also say they're wrong, about these people going out and getting another breed - that has not happened in the City of Pawtucket.  But, we're very aggressive with the law.

We put this law in to protect the animal as well as the people.

We were picking them up in the housing projects after they were fought, dead in plastic bags.  We were euthanizing pit bulls on a weekly basis prior to this law.  Last year we had to put down three.  And the numbers are getting shorter and shorter.  Our shelter is not full of pit bulls anymore.

They are a good dog.  We've got one in there now we just had neutered.  We don't believe in euthanasia just because it's a pit bull.  But, the law has to be done and it has to be done right.  Protect the good pit bull owners.

We have 80 pit bulls that are grandfathered in the city and owned by responsible people.  But again, we targeted the drug dealers.  We targeted the idiots that were walking around with big tow chains on 'em.  Those are the people we went after.

And this law has not only worked, it's worked tremendously.  And I welcome anybody to come in and see our numbers.  It's a shame that you have to pick out any breed but it's the dog of the day to the drug dealers and the idiots that make these dogs vicious.

Now you had one caller say, Well target the people.  How do you ban people?  We looked at this.  We went by the Denver Colorado law, but we went one step further.  We put jail time in there.  After the third offense, you go to jail.  And that's the end of it.

And people can walk down the streets of this city and not be afraid of being attacked by ANY dog, let alone a pit bull.  We're very aggressive with our leash law.  Our people are all trained; they've all been to the academy.

So, if you're gonna do this, don't put a law in if you're not going to enforce it.

Rob Consalvo: Hey that's a great point and this was an awesome call.  And I appreciate you, as a trained professional, have shown that breed specific laws can work in specific areas. Your town is different than my town and what you've chosen to do and modify is working for you.  You should have that right and Boston should too.

But you bring up another great point.  We've tried to market this as a pro-pit bull ordinance, actually.  And if you talk to Animal Control, they'll tell you that the ordinance was the tool to go in and rescue pit bulls from dogfighting dens.  They normally would have had to get a warrant in a court but now they have the ordinance as the tool because a neighbor complained.  they've rescued pit bulls as part of the ordinance.  They've used it as an education tool.  They always didn't fine for the muzzle or the beware of dog sign or the other pieces of the ordinance.  They educated people who were disobeying the law into becoming better pit bull owners.

So, yes there was a lot of controversy around muzzles and BSL, but if you talk to the good men and women who go out into the field and respond to the calls, they've used it as a positive pro-pit bull tool to rescue those dogs in an urban area who are in danger and that's an important piece to this.

Dan: John, thank you very much for the call and the background information.
John: Can I just say one more thing, and I'll make it very quick.
Dan: Sure
John: You know animal control are quick to be blamed, you know, looking at these laws.  But you gotta understand that they're sick of euthanizing these dogs.  They're sick of picking them up from the drug dealers and these idiots that don't know how to take care of them and euthanize them.  And the law does work.  Thank you.
Nightside with Dan Rea February 21, 2013 

Read more about Pawtucket's pit bull ban:
Dramatic Decline in Attacks by Pit Bulls Since Pawtucket Adopted Pit Bull Ban in 2004

Originally published on: Craven Desires