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3/17/2015 Rep. Barros bill restores municipal power to regulate breed-specific dogs
STATE HOUSE – Legislation approved by the General Assembly and signed into law in July of 2013 prevents cities and towns from banning specific breeds of dogs or cats within the municipal limits. The reasoning, at the time, was that no specific breed of dog is intrinsically bad or vicious.
That law targeted municipal ordinances in several Rhode Island communities which specifically outlawed possession of dogs such as pit bulls and Rottweilers.
Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket) has introduced legislation that would essentially restore power to the communities to regulate or outlaw breed specific dogs if those municipal regulations were in effect prior to the enactment of the 2013 state law.
The Barros legislation, 2015-H 5800, provides that “any rule, regulation or ordinance specific to any breed of dog or cat enacted in any city or town prior to July 15, 2013, shall remain in full force and effect until repealed by the appropriate officials of the city or town.”
“The law that was enacted in 2013 said that a city or town could not enact a breed-specific ordinance,” said Representative Barros. “Many communities, such as my home city of Pawtucket, had ordinances in full effect prior to that date. Because they did not adopt an ordinance after the state law was put into effect, it would appear that those ordinances still apply.”
Representative Barros said his legislation is intended to give appropriate guidance to communities with breed-specific ordinances that pre-date the 2013 state law, informing them that it is within their power to keep their ordinances in effect unless or until they choose to repeal it.

“Some communities may choose to repeal their ordinances, and others, for whatever reason, may choose not to. That is a decision that this legislation leaves to the individual municipality. This bill simply clarifies that it is the choice of the individual community – not the state—whether a pre-July 2013 ordinance can or should remains in effect,” said Representative Barros.

The legislation is before the House Committee on Municipal Government. Co-sponsors include Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket), Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown), Rep. David A. Coughlin Jr. (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) and Rep. Raymond H. Johnston Jr. (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket).

For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457