HB 5671 passed in the Rhode Island House of Representatives today by a vote of 59-9. This bill would prevent cities and town from implementing rules, regulations or ordinances relating to specific breeds of dogs (and cats).
Representative Edith Ajello, the chairwoman of the Judiciary House Committee, advised that no one testified against the bill during its committee hearing last week. She said it was an important piece of legislation backed by animal advocates, former RISPCA members and current animal control workers.
Rep. Patrick O’Neill of Pawtucket, who is a former pit bull owner, explained that his city has an ordinance that prevents residents from owning pit bulls, and he described pit bulls as “weapons.”
Rep. Art Handy stated that pit bulls were “delightful and gentle dogs,” and other Representatives, like James McGlaughlin, argued that the breed doesn’t make a dog aggressive, but it’s the owner. In a less serious moment, the House Speaker noted that Rep. McGlaughin sounded like he wanted to ban bad owners, and McGlaughlin jokingly said he’d like to – a motion that was humorously seconded by another representative.
HB 5671 will now move on to the Senate where it will be assigned to a committee. We will keep you apprised of who to contact once we have that information.