Pit bull ban raises experts' hackles.


Byline: John J. Monahan

BOSTON - Pit bull lovers, animal behavior experts and humane society officials yesterday all growled at the idea of banning the animals, during a legislative hearing on a proposal to outlaw the breed or breeds. Pit bulls have accounted for numerous and sometimes horrible attacks on children and adults in recent years.

"A breed ban is really stupid," said Nicholas H. Dodman, a professor of animal behavior at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

He suggested harsher penalties for leash laws, regulation of dog breeders to "weed out" those who breed aggressive dogs and better education of pet owners to train dogs properly and to help them avoid getting an aggressive dog for a pet.

At the time the hearing was under way, Worcester police and the city's senior animal control officer went

to Freeland Street after receiving a call that a pit bull was chasing a woman and attacking a Chihuahua-mix dog. Derek Brindisi, acting director of the Worcester Department of Public Health, said the woman ran from the pit bull and escaped him by jumping over a fence. The Chihuahua-mix was bitten on its neck and body.

Police and Patrick Cherry, animal control officer, went to the home of the pit bull's owner on Lowell Street, but no one answered the door. The dog was inside, Mr. Brindisi said. He added that the owner apparently has two pit bulls, neither of which is licensed with the city.

The acting DPH director said he will recommend to Police Chief Gary J. Gemme that the pit bull involved in the attack be removed from the home. The owner will also be notified that the other dog needs to be licensed and vaccinated.

In Boston, state Rep. Vincent A. Pedone, D-Worcester, chairman of the Municipal Affairs Committee, said he raised the question of banning pit bulls to get public reaction and expert advice on the issue. He spent hours at the hearing listening to testimony and questioning animal control officers, dog owners and animal experts on the best means of protecting people from dog attacks.

He said legislation is only being considered, and a bill to ban pit bulls has not been filed. However, problems posed by the animals are serious enough that such a step needs to be discussed.

Mr. Pedone said he and state Rep. Martin J. Walsh, D-Boston, have seen more pit bulls in their districts.

"I don't think we should wait for continued maulings before we look at whether or not these dogs need a law of their own," Mr...

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