Citing 31 pit-bull related bites and attacks on humans and domestic animals in the past two years, the Lowell City Council is looking to put a tight leash on the breed and its owners.
Following a public hearing Tuesday, the council is expected to vote on an ordinance mirroring a Boston law requiring pit bulls be leashed and muzzled when off their owner's property. Haverhill has an ordinance that requires pit bulls be muzzled.
"We've had some attacks in the city, and we're going to try to address that," said Mayor Edward "Bud" Caulfield, a council member. "I'm a lover of animals, but this particular breed, when they attack another person or animal, they are very vicious."
The vote would come less than a month after the council adopted a "vicious and dangerous dog" ordinance that clearly defines a dangerous dog and imposes penalties against owners. Penalties include fines and possible banishment of the dog.
Caulfield proposed the breed-specific ordinance last fall after a service dog was attacked by a pit bull in downtown Lowell. He said the pit bull had the dog by the throat and wouldn't let go. A bystander sprayed a fire extinguisher to separate the animals.
"I'm looking out for the people I represent, and a majority of the council agrees with me," he said. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., and the hearing is at 7 p.m.
Opponents plan to be there in force. Representatives from the Lowell Humane Society and the MSCPA say the bylaw isn't necessary in light of the earlier ordinance, approved in late December. Both organizations supported that initiative.
"It's a big step to take when they aren't letting the previous ordinance take effect," said Crystal Arnott, Lowell Humane Society outreach coordinator. "All it's doing is making more legislation that people will not follow."
Arnott, a Lowell resident and president of the Lowell Unleashed dog owners association, said the city doesn't have the resources to enforce the laws it has on the books, so she doesn't see how a new law would help.
The pit bull ordinance would require owners to register and license and spay or neuter dogs. Owners would have to leash and muzzle pit bulls when off their property. The ordinance would restrict owners to two pit bulls per household, with the exception of a litter of puppies and would require owners to post signs saying, "Beware of Pit Bull."