Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.
WORCESTER - Residents packed City Hall last night to give testimony on the City Council's proposed pit bull dog ordinance.
And while the council listened to about an hour of testimony, most of it in opposition to the ordinance, the council never voted on it because Councilor-at-Large Michael J. Germain put a hold on the item, in accordance with council rules.
Mayor Joseph C. O'Brien said the council will take the item up at its Sept. 7 meeting.
People packed the chamber, some with signs. One woman wore a dust mask, symbolizing the muzzling that would be required for pit bulls leaving an owner's premises.
Most in opposition to the proposed ordinance said the pit bull is not an inherently dangerous dog, and said it has a bad reputation because irresponsible dog owners gravitate toward it as a cultural symbol.
Resident Richard Abdella said he owns a $1,200 show dog. His dog is used for breeding. He said that if the council passes an ordinance requiring that pit bulls in the city be neutered, he will lose money that he makes from the breeding services.
Mr. Abdella said unleashed dogs in the hands of irresponsible owners are the real problem.
"The most effective laws can be controlled by this right here," Mr. Abdella said, holding up a dog leash he had been wearing around his neck.
The ordinance, which had been requested by the council, is modeled after Boston's Responsible Pit Bull Ownership ordinance. While the local ordinance does not ban pit bulls or restrict them to private property, it establishes additional licensing and registration requirements.
It also requires pit bulls to be leashed and muzzled, or placed in a secure temporary enclosure, when taken off an owner's premises.
In addition, the ordinance requires pit bull owners to obtain the consent of their landlord to keep a pit bull on the premises, place a warning sign on their property informing the public that a pit bull lives there, and notify animal control officers or the police whenever their pit bull injures or threatens any person or animal.
Allie Simone, acting director of the Worcester Animal Rescue League, said she would support an ordinance targeting dangerous dogs in general, but said she could not support breed-specific restrictions. She said there is no scientific evidence identifying one breed of dog that bites more than another. She said dog bite statistics can be misleading because some breeds are much more popular than others.