Pitbull Attacks Have Residents Concerned

August 21, 2013
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EB1Three pitbull attacks this summer in East Boston, two of which occurred this month, has officials wondering what can be done to prevent more attacks in the future.

The most recent attack occurred last week when Eastie resident Jessica Lee Jones walking her two dogs. Jones stopped to talk to two neighbors when two pitbulls came from out of nowhere and attacked her dogs. The attack left Jones’s hands and legs bloodied as she tried to prevent the attacking dogs from mauling her two corgis.

The other attacks occurred on August 5 and July 27.

During the August 5 attack, a pitbull killed a cocker spaniel and was later euthanized by the owner.

On July 27 a pitbull bit an Eastie resident after the owner invited the victim to pet the dog.

“Dog owners need to be responsible and there is a leash law and dogs need to be on a leash no longest than 10 feet when out in public,” said District 7 interim Capatain Tim Connolly. “From a police perspective and from a public safety perspective all dogs should be muzzled because that is the only way to reduce bites.”

However, Boston’s 2004 muzzle law for pitbulls and other dog breeds was overturned last year at the state level.

These latest terrifying incidents have raised questions over the state law that prohibits legislation or city ordnances that target a specific dog breed.

Last October two pitbulls went on a rampage and terrorized residents in Jeffries Point and Maverick Square. Police had to shoot one of the two pitbulls after the dogs broke through a screen door, killed a cat, attacked a teenager and chased people around Sumner Street.

At the time Mayor Thomas Menino complained that the state went forward with overturning the muzzle law without consulting cities and towns that would be affected.

“In Boston we view this as a public safety issue and will work aggressively to find a solution,” said Menino.

Both Menino and City Councilor Sal LaMattina have advocated for laws requiring owners of pitbulls to register their dogs with the city and require owners to muzzle the animals when in public.

“What happen in East Boston underscores the need to have vigilance,” said Menino. “While we don’t believe this entire breed is evil there has been problems with pitbulls in the past both in Boston and nationally. People have gotten hurt, other animals have gotten killed so there is a pattern.”

For his part, LaMattina worked with Councilor Rob Consalvo to pass a home rule petition to force pitbull owners to muzzle their pet.

“I’m very concerned because this is a very scary situation for everyone involved,” said LaMattina.

A 9-year review of fatal dog attacks in the United States determined that, of the 101 attacks in which breed was recorded, pit bulls were implicated in 42% of those attacks.

Another study found that 94% of attacks on children by pit bulls were unprovoked, compared to 43% for other breeds

The authors wrote: “Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites”.