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Legislative Updates: Ban on Hold in Rhode Island City; Tightened Restrictions in N.J. Town

On October 16, 2012, Woonsocket, R.I., City Council President John Ward introduced a proposed ban on pit bulls in Woonsocket, R.I., a city of about 42,000 people 15 miles north of the capital of Providence. According to the Woonsocket Patch, the ordinance would “ban anyone who does not already own a pitbull from acquiring one.” As noted by the American Kennel Club, the proposal is aimed at all dogs commonly referred to as pit bulls, and includes American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and any mixed-breed dog that displays the “majority of physical traits” of one or more of these breeds.

The proposal demands that, should a dog of the above description have a litter, “the owner or keeper must deliver the puppies to the Animal Shelter for destruction or permanently remove the puppies from the city.” It would also require current owners to have $100,000 in liability insurance on their dogs, post signs at all entrances to their residences bearing the words “Pit Bull Dog” in 2-inch lettering, and would require dogs to be muzzled when off the owner’s property.

The Woonsocket Patch reported that six people attended the city council meeting to speak during a public comment period, and that “most of the people were opposed to the ban.” Resident Matthew Desilets pointed out that it is people who don’t obey existing laws, who let their dogs roam freely, that are the problem, rather than the dogs themselves. Other citizens agreed that enforcing current laws is preferable to adopting new ones.

The city council unanimously voted to table the proposal until November 5. A “work session” is scheduled for tomorrow, when the council will meet with members of the Woonsocket Police Department and the Rhode Island SPCA.

New Definition of ‘Kennel’ in New Jersey Locale

In Mendham Township, N.J., a new ordinance passed on October 23 that designates that any property that houses more than seven adult dogs would be considered a kennel, according to the Mendham-Chester Patch. John Mills, attorney for the township, is quoted as saying that a kennel is “a business that is prohibited to operate in the township,” unless it is located on a parcel of land that is more than 50 acres. According to Mills, no such properties exist in Mendham.

The original amendment to the city’s animal control law stated that more than 10 adult dogs on a property would “give rise to the rebuttable presumption” that the premises is a kennel, but the number was changed to seven during last week’s meeting. The establishment of a new definition for a kennel was apparently the result of complaints from a single neighborhood against one individual in that neighborhood.

Ron Strobel, a member of the committee that passed the new ordinance, said that the committee may “revisit the ordinance” in the future. “We have now put the burden on someone with more than seven dogs to prove they are not a commercial enterprise,” he is quoted as saying. This statement supports the fact that the amendment calls the presumption that a property with seven or more dogs is a kennel “rebuttable.” It is unclear what would happen if a citizen with more than seven dogs were able to prove that he or she did not operate a commercial kennel. A phone call to Mendham Township administrator Steve Mountain was not returned.

Mendham Township, N.J., was the location of singer-actress Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s wedding in July 1992. She owned a 12, 500-square-foot mansion in the affluent township, located 30 miles due west of New York City and home to fewer than 6,000 residents. New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his family also live there.

Best In Show Daily takes a biweekly look at dog-related legislation that is pending and has passed around the country. AKC also monitors legislation and provides updates in its Legislative Alerts section online.

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.

2 Comments to “Legislative Updates: Ban on Hold in Rhode Island City; Tightened Restrictions in N.J. Town”

  1. Linda says:

    Christi,

    Thanks for the legislative update. I am very active in my state on a number of issues. It would be really helpful when you list a name to put the party behind the name like they do in most news posts. (D – NY) for instance. That give us the opportunity to contact the person and the party leaders in the state.

    Thanks for all the updates, it is a really hard job.

  2. Christi McDonald Christi says:

    Linda, thank you for writing. I’m glad you find the legislative updates on BISD useful. I’ll give some thought to adding the party affiliation of elected officials to my stories when possible. Although I am myself loyal to a particular party, I must say that I find the party lines along which our nation is so strongly divided today disturbing in the main, and wish not to contribute to that divide, although I know I often do. Our governments will operate much more effectively and efficiently if we can work with, rather than against, those with political views that differ from our own. Fighting dog legislation that infringes on our rights is a fight for all of us. All the same, I sincerely appreciate and will seriously consider your suggestion.

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