A few months ago, the state enacted a new law to modernize animal-control laws, which includes the first statewide rules for tethering canines. The bill signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick is especially aimed at those who are convicted of cruelty to animals.
The law also bans a person from keeping a dog chained or tethered to a tree, doghouse, pole of other structure for longer than 24 consecutive hours. Tethers must be designed for dogs, and no lines such as logging chains are allowed.
In addition, the law establishes restrictions for keeping dogs outside. Dogs must be in a secure enclosure, a fenced yard, or connected with a pulley cable. Dogs must have adequate exercise space, water and shelter.
In short, the new law protects pets.
But what about residents just out for a walk?
How are they to be protected?
Last weekend, Mayor Thomas Menino announced he may be considering a local ordinance requiring pit bull owners to muzzle their dogs if and when they are outside.
That statement by the mayor followed a bloody incident in East Boston, where two pit bulls ran wild around a local square without leashes, biting a 13 year old on the shoulder and terrorizing residents.
Boston Police shot one of the pit bulls. A Boston Animal Control officer captured the second pit bull and took the dog into custody. The shot pit bull is expected to recover. The 13 year old who was bitten will take a week or two to recover but psychologically, the child will always be haunted by the memory of walking on Sumner Street only to be bitten by an angry, out of control pit bull.
The new canine rights law does not allow dogs to be treated by breed – rather – all breeds are treated as dogs and ostensibly are treated the same way in the eyes of the law.
The savagery in East Boston over the weekend is an oft-repeated story all over the city in nearly all of our neighborhoods.
Obviously, the laws we enact don’t physically protect dogs or human beings unless the people the laws are meant for pay attention to them.
Too many maulings by pit bulls running amuck has identified pit bulls as a very dangerous breed of dog.
Granted, not all pit bulls are bred to maul residents out for a walk. It is true that pit bulls were a gentle breed of dog and held widely by dog lovers all over the nation before the First World War.
Today, in the urban setting where they often run wild and maul innocents, pit bulls need to be restrained by the city government if their owners show an inability to do so. This needs to be done not only in Eastie but in all the cities neighborhoods.
We agree with Mayor Menino’s thoughts on muzzling pit bulls in order to protect the safety of the public.
Too many pit bull owners treat and train their pets as attack dogs or use them as protection in the urban milieu.
Vicious pit bulls must either be permanently restrained or muzzled when being walked in public as the mayor is suggesting.
Police officers having to shoot dogs after they’ve mauled residents who must be taken to the hospital is the last thing we need.
The dogs we keep as pets must be as civilized as the city we live in.