BSL moves forward in Lowell, MA

The Lowell city council voted last night to move forward to a public hearing a “pit-bull muzzle law.” Despite the description, the ordinance would also require that all pit bulls be spayed or neutered, and would not allow anyone to own more than two (2) pit bulls. The law would apply to any dog having the appearance of a “pit bull.” The ordinance includes an exemption for the muzzle requirement for dogs that complete a training program.

This ordinance could be voted on as early as June 14!

Please take a moment to write to the Lowell city officials again to voice your POLITE, RESPECTFUL and INFORMATIVE opposition to breed specific legislation. Please also encourage as many people as possible to attend the next meeting that this issue will be heard. This is a matter of concern to everyone in the community – not just owners of pit bulls – because as we all know, dangerous dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds, and BSL instills a false sense of security in citizens and leaves the community vulnerable to truly dangerous dogs that don’t happen to have “the appearance of a pit bull.”

I am including the article in its entirety as its causing much friction among the council members, and its important to keep in mind when its time to vote again who was for and against BSL in Lowell.

Online contact form for the Lowell, MA city council:

City Clerk
Richard Johnson
375 Merrimack Street
1st Floor, Room 31
Lowell, MA 01852
(978) 970-4161, voice
(978) 970-4162, fax

Public Safety Committee Members:
Councilor Edward “Bud” Caulfield, Chair
Councilor Rodney Elliott, Member
Councilor Franky Descoteaux, Member

Lowell City Council to bring pit-bull muzzle law to public hearing
By Lyle Moran,
Updated: 05/25/2011 11:04:15 AM EDT

LOWELL — After months of debate, the City Council voted last night to forward to a public hearing a pit-bull muzzle law that provides exemptions for dogs that go through training programs.

The ordinance, crafted by the city’s Law Department after several public-safety subcommittee and Animal Advisory Committee meetings, could be voted on as soon June 14, when the public hearing takes place.

City Attorney David Fenton modeled the ordinance after muzzle laws already in place in Boston and Worcester.

The ordinance requires that all pit bulls that don’t go through certified training programs must be on a leash and wearing a muzzle when not on their owner’s property. Pit bulls also do not have to wear a muzzle when off their owner’s property if they are in a secure enclosure, such as a dog crate.

A pit bull is defined as any dog that is an American pit-bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or any dog of mixed breed displaying the majority of physical traits of any of the above breeds.

Animal-control officers can seize any pit bull in violation of the ordinance or that has attacked or threatened a human or another animal, and impound the dog. The pit bull will not be released unless the owner has provided proof that it has been registered and licensed with the city, and has paid the city for all violations of the ordinance.

The public-safety subcommittee’s decision to include language allowing exemptions for dogs that go through a training program, including the “safe dog training” conducted by the Lowell Humane Society, boosted the ordinance’s chance of council passage.
Councilors Franky Descoteaux and Joseph Mendonca said they could not support a muzzle law that did not provide exemptions for responsible dog owners who put their dogs through training.

“This is not about punishing good owners,” Descoteaux said.

Mayor James Milinazzo, a member of the Animal Advisory Committee that suggested the exemption language, wanted to see that section included.

The ordinance also requires that all pit bulls be spayed or neutered to reduce their aggressiveness, and does not let anyone in the city own more than two pit bulls.

Animal-control officers would be required to provide monthly reports about the implementation of the ordinance, and the council would review the effectiveness of the law every six months.

Councilor Rodney Elliott, who called for a muzzle law after a Lowell woman was attacked by a pit bull on Church Street earlier this spring, said he is pleased with the council’s progress on the issue and believes the drafted ordinance could help prevent future pit-bull attacks in the city.

But Councilor Edward “Bud” Caulfield, who had been one of the strongest supporters of the muzzle law, withdrew his support because of the training exemptions.

“I cannot support a watered-down ordinance that will do little to protect the public,” Caulfield said.

Caulfield said the exemptions would make it difficult for animal-control officers to enforce the law and would lead to discrimination claims from people who have not trained their pit bulls and have to place muzzles on them.

The city’s two animal-control officers said last night they agree with Caulfield and said it will be difficult to know if a pit bull has received training or not.

Councilor Rita Mercier said she could not support the muzzle law in any fashion because it discriminates against one breed. She said the city should place more focus on enforcing its current dangerous-dog ordinance, which is not breed-specific.

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