Town’s revised new leash law up for a vote

Town’s revised new leash law up for a vote

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The town’s proposed new ordinances on restraining pets, including increased penalties for escaped dogs and definitions for what constitutes as a leash, are headed to the Town Council for a vote on Dec. 1.

One recent change to the proposal is to consider previous offenses from the years before a pet owner moves into North Providence, a modification motivated by concerns that someone with a history of poor pet ownership could get away with little or no punishment with a fresh offense here.

“Any prior action taken by a municipality involving the same dog in question within a period of three years prior to the issuance of a violation by the town of North Providence may be considered a first, second or subsequent offense, as applicable,” it states.

The ordinance as drafted increases penalties from $25 to $100 for a second offense, and to $200 for a third and subsequent offense, payable within 15 days. A warning would be issued on a first offense of any kind.

So, for example, a Warwick pet owner with a prior case of allowing their dog to escape could be hit with a second offense on their first offense in North Providence, thus incurring a fine even without a past record in town.

Addressing concerns previously expressed by Animal Control Officer Ernie Calandra that he wouldn’t want the ordinance to prohibit stronger action on a first egregious offense, the ordinance does not apply to actions taken by the town with regard to vicious dog violations or offenses.

Ordinance Committee Chairman Stefano Famiglietti said the proposed ordinance on the docket for a vote Dec. 1 hasn’t really changed much from what was originally proposed, but some of the wording was modified to address concerns and clarify certain items.

A legal restraint is defined as a cord or chain no longer than 6 feet in length and connected to the collar or harness of the dog and held in the hand by the owner or a competent person. The owner shall keep the dog under restraint at all times and shall not permit it to be at-large and off their property unless they are leashed.

Councilor Steven DiLorenzo has been especially adamant that the town needs to revise its leash laws after several attacks by dogs this year on town streets. DiLorenzo previously said that increased pet-walking activity during the pandemic has highlighted the problem and the need for stricter rules.