Rhode Island AG asked to weigh in on Whether Dog Ban Applies to Pawtucket

Jul 23, 2013

The City of Pawtucket said a new state law blocking cities and towns from banning certain breeds of animals does not apply to them.   At issue is Pawtucket’s longstanding ban against the ownership of pit bulls. 

Pawtucket officials said they will continue to enforce a ban on pit bulls despite a new state law that forbids cities and towns from outlawing the ownership of specific breeds of dogs or cats. Pawtucket director of administration Tony Pires said the law applies only to future bans, not ones already on the books like theirs.

“Generally speaking, unless the General Assembly intended for the legislation to be retroactive, everything is any events happening going forward or prospectively,” said Pires.

The City of Pawtucket said the new state law does not apply to the city's ban of pit bulls because its ban came first.

But the sponsor of the law, state Rep. Thomas Palangio, disagrees. “Federal law supersedes state law. State law supersedes municipal law. And that’s kind of 101. I think they’re just grabbing at straws,” he said.

Palangio has asked Attorney General Peter Kilmartin for a legal opinion on the dispute.

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