Very good news for Rhode Island dog owners!
House Bill 5287 and Senate Bill 178, calling for state-wide regulation of the ownership of “pit bulls,” have been WITHDRAWN by their respective sponsors. These companion bills were introduced on February 6, 2013, and would have required, among other things, that pit bulls be either caged or muzzled at all times and never walked within 100 feet of a school. In addition, the bill “suggested” that pit bull owners be fiscally responsible in the event that their dog inflicts harm. (As a side note, we feel that the owner of ANY dog that inflicts harm should be financially responsible for the damage, whether the dog in question is a poodle or a pit bull.)
We learned last week that the original bill was drafted by a concerned citizen of Bristol, Rhode Island attempting to make a positive change. He submitted his bill to the legislators to “create discussion.” Feedback on the bill, whether bad or good, was the goal of its introduction, and Senator Ottiano said he never even intended to have the bill heard.
That may be so, but concerned dog owners took quick action!
Legislators advised they received more comments, more emails, and more constituent requests on the “pit bill” legislation than any other bills pending in the entire General Assembly this year.
Senator Ottiano is pleased that the “end goal” of introducing the bills has already been achieved in that national dog organizations are holding meetings with constituents to help them craft much better legislation for it.
And what of the concerned citizen? He says after speaking to animal advocacy groups such as Animal Farm Foundation and the National Canine Research Council, he realizes breed-specific legislation isn’t the way to go, as any breed is able to attack, and he wants to develop more specific guidelines and regulations for promoting responsible animal ownership.
Since the “end goal” of the introduction of these bills has been achieved and is sparking movement and discussion, on February 27, Senator Ottiano formally withdrew SB 178, and on February 28, Representative Gallison withdrew HB5287. As such, there are no breed specific bills currently pending in the Rhode Island Legislature.
Certainly we feel another means of bringing an animal control discussion to the forefront would have been much more appropriate than targeting a breed so maligned already, but we are pleased that state level breed specific bills are no longer on the table in Rhode Island.
RHODE ISLAND RESIDENTS: Please reach out to these two legislators and thank them for pulling these bills!
Previous alerts for Rhode Island: