I’ve been doing a bit of reading on the Boston pit bull ordinance, which will be discussed a bit at tomorrow’s City Council meeting.
Discrepancy in the Boston Ordinance
On page 2, the Boston ordinance mentions that Winthrop, MA, banned pit bulls in 1988, and that Lynn also banned pit bulls but that the Supreme Judicial Court struck down Lynn’s ban. In fact, the Winthrop ban was also struck down, though that is not mentioned in the ordinance.
Number of dogs
On page 5, section 16-1.9E.4, the Boston ordinance says that “[i]n no event, however, may more than two (2) Pit Bulls may [sic] be registered, licensed, stored, housed, sheltered, or in any way located at a single household.” Compare this to section 11, Kennel License, of the current Worcester dog ordinance, which says that people can own a maximum of two dogs (or cats, or combination of dogs and cats). So, how would a breed-specific ordinance be stricter than what is already on the books?
Do we really need ID and photos?
A quick comparison of the Boston ordinance, section 16-1.9E.4 (a), and the current Worcester ordinance, Chapter 10 (a), shows that both require information about the color, breed, gender, special markings, and vaccination records of the dog; and information about the owner. The Boston ordinance asks for a picture of the dog and for a positive form of ID from the owner. I’m not sure that this would really be necessary.
The Boston ordinance, section 16-1.9E.4 (g), states that the dog owner cannot be younger than 18. So does the current Worcester ordinance.
Boston requires spay/neuter of pit bulls; Worcester’s registration fee is lowered for animals that are spayed/neutered. Note that the Boston pit bull license, at $50, is far more expensive than the regular Worcester license ($10 altered/$15 unaltered).
Boston requires that pit bulls be muzzled in addition to being on a leash (section 16-1.9E.5; page 7) and that there be a sign advising that there is a pit bull on the premises (section 16-1.9E.6; page 7). Worcester has a leash law that is, by and large, being followed and enforced, as I found when I attended a meeting on December 2.
But What About Dangerous Dogs?
In chapter 12 of Worcester’s dog ordinance (pp. 4 -5), “dangerous dog” is defined; the chief of police has powers to remove such dogs from the city. I don’t think a breed-specific ordinance could get much stricter.
Read them for yourself
You should read both the Boston pit bull ordinance, and the Worcester dog ordinance. The differences between the two are mostly in punishment for offenders (Boston is more specific and more severe) and in prevention (signage and muzzles in Boston). Do you think the differences in the Boston ordinance warrant further investigation?