A bill has been introduced in the Rhode Island Senate that would regulate the ownership of “pit bulls” at the state level. The bill, S 0178, is sponsored by Senators Ottiano, Bates and Felag, and has been assigned to the Senate Environment & Agriculture Committee. The committee calendar does not list a date for hearing on this matter currently, but we will continue to monitor the calendar and advise when the hearings are scheduled.
In the meantime, RHODE ISLAND RESIDENTS: please reach out to the members of the Senate Environment & Agriculture Committee, as well as your respective legislators, and ask them to vote “no” on this bill. Breed discriminatory ordinances promote a false sense of security in communities and actually put their constituents at risk to the truly dangerous dogs not designated as such because they don’t meet the physical characteristics established by breed discriminatory laws. A dog’s appearance or breed has no bearing on the risk or danger that any dog poses to a community, and strongly enforced breed-neutral dangerous dog laws that target irresponsible and reckless dog owners benefit the entire community – people and animals alike.
Please also write to the sponsors of S 0178 and ask that they withdraw their bill:
Senator Christopher Ottiano
Senator David Bates
Senator Walter Felag
Senate Environment & Agriculture Committee
(block copy & paste e-mails)
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Committee clerk: Nancy Sullivan (401) 276-5580
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The entire bill can be found here. The preamble of the bill includes the following language:
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Legislative Findings. The general assembly finds and declares 1 as follows:
(1) In recent years the state of Rhode Island has experienced a tragic series of incidents in which citizens have been attacked and seriously injured by pitbull dogs; and,
(2) Concurrent with these attacks upon human beings, the community has also experienced an increasing number of animal killings and serious injuries resulting from pitbull attacks; and
(3) Pitbull breeds were developed for the purpose of fighting dogs and other animals; and
(4) To increase its effectiveness as a fighter, certain pitbull traits have been selected and maximized by controlled breeding, including:
(i) A set of powerful jaws with an exceptional ability to grip, lock and tear when the dog bites;
(ii) A unique insensitivity to pain that causes pitbulls to be exceedingly tenacious in the attack; and
(iii) An unusually aggressive temperament towards human beings and animals; and
(4) An extraordinary directness in their method of attack that does not include the common warning signs such as barking or growling displayed by other breeds.
(5) For the above reasons, pitbull dogs present a danger to the health and welfare of the citizens of Rhode Island, different in degree and kind, from the dangers presented by other breeds of dogs.
(6) It is the intent of the general assembly to utilize its authority and police powers to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens through implementation of uniform regulations and guidelines for the possession, handling, and control of pitbull dogs. The intent of this act is not to outlaw the ownership of pitbull dogs but rather to stimulate responsible ownership through confinement, registration and liability insurance. The unique history, nature, and characteristics of pitbull dogs has been determined to require the special regulations and provisions contained within this act which the general assembly finds to be reasonable and necessary.
Please reach out to your legislators NOW, and share with your Rhode Island friends and contacts. Breed discriminatory laws are a concern for all responsible dog owners.