Pit bull owner files suit against Pawtucket, Rhode Island

A lawsuit filed by Defenders of Animals on behalf of a Pawtucket, Rhode Island pit bull owner asks the court to determine the validity of the city’s ordinance that forbids ownership of that particular breed of dog.

According to Mark Morse, an attorney representing dog owner, Albert Alix and Defenders of Animals, the suit asks the court to declare that the city ordinance is invalid because it conflicts with a newly passed state law that forbids cities and towns from banning or regulating specific breeds of dogs.  Governor Chafee signed Rhode Island’s measure into law on July 16.

Tony Pires, Pawtucket’s director of administration and public safety, argues that since the city’s pit bull ordinance has been in effect since 2004, it is grandfathered in.

In addition, Pires claims the new legislation does not specify that it is retroactive in nature and, therefore, the city’s ordinance trumps the state law.

Mr. Alix filed suit after police issued two summonses to him in August related to his dog “Chubs.”  He was charged with having a prohibited pit bull, failure to muzzle the dog, having a dog at large, having an uninsured dog, and failure to post a sign.   To be clear, we certainly agree that if Mr. Alix’s dog was at large, a summons is warranted.  All dog owners MUST be responsible with their dogs…that includes knowing where your dog is, and having him in your control at all times.  However, it appears the charges related to the breed specific ordinance are invalid in light of the new state law.

Breed bans like the one in Pawtucket force pit bull owners to either move from their homes or give their dogs up when their dogs have done nothing to warrant the label of “dangerous” or “vicious”.  Mr. Alix has had Chubs for about 20 months, and he considers him to be a member of his family that he isn’t going to let go.

We wish Mr. Alix and the Defenders of Animals the best of luck with the suit, and hope that a judge renders Pawtucket’s ordinance null and void in light of the new state law.

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