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Long Island Town Repeals Dog Ban

Dog lovers turnout impresses lawmakers

The Board of Trustees in the incorporated village of Rockville Centre, NY unanimously voted on July 20 to repeal the law banning pit bulls and Rottweilers after hearing hours of impassioned pleas from dog lovers.

The crowd of 300 plus people packed the Anderson Recreation Center. (The venue had to be changed from the village hall after, weeks earlier, a protest about the ban drew a huge crowd that would not fit into the tiny hall.)

The board’s vote to implement the ban, which is unconstitutional according to New York State law that prohibits discrimination against any specific breed, was apparently prompted by an incident in a local hair salon in the village. The salon owner, who also is a member of Ruffhouse Rescue, an animal rescue organization, had a pit bull loose in her shop. The 3-year-old daughter of salon patron Lisa Schulman, was playing with the owner’s dog and was hurt when the dog jumped up on her. It was obvious from both sides of the story that the incident was not an attack, but an accident.

However, the board passed a law banning two breeds of dogs in a knee-jerk reaction to quell the concerns of one resident.

At the hearing, each speaker’s plea to the board to repeal the ban was met with resounding applause from the audience. Lawyers from various animal groups noted the ineffectiveness of breed discrimination laws and the loss of civil rights of pet owners. A suggestion from a board trustee that another law be passed requiring muzzling of dogs of a certain weight was met by groans from the crowd. The trustee later suggested dealing with dog bites on a case by case basis, which was well received from the audience.

Rescue Ink, a group of tattooed, motorcycle-riding street guys who have zero tolerance for animal abuse and neglect, got a huge round of applause as they entered the room. That applause, however, was rivaled by the entrance of two pit bulls service dogs. Ironically, Rockville Centre police officers would not initially allow the dogs to enter the building. The dogs’ people explained to the officers that it is against the law to not allow any service dog to enter a building. After some convincing, the cops acquiesced and the dogs were admitted.

Personal stories and passion were boundless and in the end, the board, while prompted by the unconstitutionality of the ban, repealed the law. The night’s events made it obvious the village would be less likely to try to implement another restrictive measure in the future.