City To Require Muzzles on Some Pit Bulls

Residents with registered pit bulls and pit bull-mixes will be grandfathered an exemption from the new rules, which require the breed to be muzzled at all times while outdoors - including on private property without enclosed fencing.

Malden pit bull-owners may have gotten a compromise out of city hall last night, but many remained unhappy with new rules they say unfairly target the breed for muzzling - even while on an owner's private property.

Thanks to the deal, current residents with registered pit bulls – both purebred or mixed-breed – will receive an exemption from a new “dangerous dog” law, as well as an “exemption tag” the dog must wear at all times.

Thereafter, the city will require all new and visiting pit bulls be muzzled while outdoors, unless they are confined in a fenced-in area on private property.

The ordinance, as originally proposed, would've required all pit bulls be muzzled outdoors within city limits.

The amended proposal passed in a 7-4 vote.


Kinnon defends his proposal

Proponent Councilor Neil Kinnon said the change would protect residents from vicious dogs and deter other pit bull owners from bringing their pets - which he said were disproportionately likely to bite - into the city. 

Of the 57 canine bites reported to the city since 2009, 18 have been attributed to pit bull or pit bull-mixes, animal control officer Kevin Alkins said. 11 other breeds accounted for 14 bites, and mutts accounted for the remaining 25.

About 6.7 percent of the dogs registered in the city are pit bulls, Kinnon said.

“That's 6.7 percent...(making) 32.5 percent of all the bites,” Kinnon said. “Based on those statistics we get 23 bites bites from every 100 pit bulls...for the remaining dogs, that would be about 3.5 per every 100.”

"Let's not lose sight of the fact that statistics tell us something," he said, emphasizing the new rules would not place such restrictions on residents already owning the breed.  


Opponents bite back

Opponents, including Lt. Alan Borgal of the Center for Shelter Dogs and Kara Holmquist from the Massachusetts Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said that breed-specific legislation was often hard to enforce, relied on a poor understanding of genetic breeding distinctions and was unfair to breeds they said are often singled out for legislative attention.

Oftentimes, a dog that appears to be a pit bull is shown to be another breed under strict genetic criteria, and mixed breed dogs can have any number of other species in their pedigree, Ornquist told the council.

“There's simply aren't any scientific studies that show (this breed-specific law) will reduce dog bites,” she said.

Councilor Barbara Murphy, who voted against the ordinance, noted that all of the dog bite incidents reported to the city involved an off-leash dog, arguing the city should work on enforcing laws already on the books to protect citizens from dangerous dogs. 

The ward 8 councilor also offered an amendment that would allow dog-owners to keep their pit bulls on a leash in their backyard, though it failed in a 3-8 vote.

“If I walk out the back door, and the dog is on a leash and there is no fencing in my particular yard, I'm going to have to put a muzzle on him...just to walk the dog to go to the bathroom in their own backyard,” she said. “Most people without fences don't just let their dog run in the backyard.”

Carol J. Merletti April 04, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Maggie, I have to say that I was so proud of my Ward 5 Councilor, Barbara Murphy. She did not want this law to pass. She spoke loud and clear on her beliefs that there were other alternatives, other than muzzling the dogs. She spoke with passion, because that is the kind of person that she is. She was also the ONLY ONE who spoke up when Neil Kinnon made his derogatory and discriminating statement about Section 8 and children with learning disabilities. That saddened me that more did not chime in. I want to believe that it was only because they were in shocked and didn’t know what to say. What I don’t understand is why more people are not outraged by Kinnon, his comments, and his behavior last night.
Lydia April 05, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I'm amazed at the Kinnon bashing on this forum, the reason this ordinance was passed because of drug dealers that use these breeds to intimidate people. A few years ago these people were hanging around Maplewood Square, back then people complained that something needs to be done. Now that's it's done you're not happy with that either. People need to make up their minds. Responsible people do leash their dogs, if I had a "pit bull" I would voluntarily muzzle him. The top story on AOL this morning was, "Nose bitten off by pit bull" This guy knew the dog since he was a puppy, he never thought that the dog would do anything like that. If you people were as passionate about public safety in this city, things would be very different. No one complains about the crime in this city, and when you have a Councilor that's pro-active about drug dealers coming into Malden, none of you are happy. I just don't get it! Carol, Kinnon is right about section 8, we have more than our share in this city, let some of the wealthier communities take on that burden.
Carol J. Merletti April 05, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Lydia, Kinnon causes his own problems. Did you even watch the meeting last night? The Council invited the Animal Rescue League of Boston to come and speak on behalf of this law. They are the ones who are the professionals, Kinnon is not. They told him about other alternatives, but Kinnon being Kinnon, and Kinnon always believing that he is God, refused to listen to them. The way that he spoke to them was shameful! Proper etiquette dictates that when you invite a guest, you show them respect. This man did not. He continuously talked down to them. It was embarrassing! But this is nothing new with this man. He behaves like a child when he does not get his way. His outbursts are so unprofessional. With regards to Section 8, you left out the part about his discriminating comments about grouping the two together. His comments clearly came across that only Section 8 people have children with learning disabilities. I am not Section 8, and I have a child with a learning disability. He meant what he said. He groups people together. His ignorant comments were foolish! I know very wealthy people with children with learning disabilities in Belmont, Wayland, Concord, and elsewhere. I also owe nothing to Kinnon after what he did to my son, family, and other children. He should hide his head in shame. One last thing, if Kinnon, and the council, would stop giving permits for these buildings, that are not needed, he wouldn’t need to be so concerned about Section 8.
Lydia April 05, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I was at that meeting, I didn't get the impression that he said only section 8 people have children with learning disabilities. I think your hatered for Kinnon clouds your reasoning.
Carol J. Merletti April 05, 2012 at 04:22 AM
I will not get into a debate with you Lydia. By the way, what is your last name? Why won’t you put this on your profile if you feel so strongly about your love for Kinnon? I never denied that I hate this man. And hate is a very strong word for me, but after what he did to my family, I’ve every reason to despise him. I know what I heard last night, as did others. I received phone calls today praising me for my outburst. Question, where were you sitting at the meeting? In the audience, or up front with him on the council table, as I suspect you were? Your admiration for this guy apparently has given you selective hearing. I will no longer respond to you. When you post your last name, I will continue my debate with you, but until then, I honestly could care less about what you have to say.
Chris Caesar April 05, 2012 at 04:29 AM
I appreciate everyone's passion, but let's try to take a deep breath before posting anymore comments - not that it's there yet, but I don't want this to turn into a flamewar.
Phe April 05, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Someone did that last election. He lost terribly.
Phe April 05, 2012 at 12:06 PM
The drug dealers who maintain these dogs are, by their very nature, criminals. They will not register their animals nor will they abide by any existing leash or muzzle laws. So how this targets and punishes THEM is beyond me, particularly when it wasn't their unregistered dogs who were cited in the skewed and questionable statistics by Mr. Kinnon in the first place. This also doesn't address their criminal activities beyond their animal ownership - those activities that engender a far greater threat to public safety than their animals do. Your argument is absolutely specious at best.
betty geist April 05, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Will said Maggie. I was there It was so bad
betty geist April 05, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Hi CarolI I don't know this Neal Kinnon untell that night of the meeting. Not from the town of Malden. But you are so right about him .your comment (The way that he spoke to them was shameful! Proper etiquette dictates that when you invite a guest, you show them respect. This man did not. He continuously talked down to them. It was embarrassing! But this is nothing new with this man. He behaves like a child when he does not get his way. His outbursts are so unprofessional.)
Jennifer April 05, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Well Damn. He's not my ward but I didn't realize what a bully he was until recently.
kimx April 05, 2012 at 03:07 PM
BSL just doesn't work. When the muzzle law fails, the next step will be outright eradication of the breed; then, people will get another breed or breeds en masse, and they'll have to ban those, too. Where does one draw the line? Of all the bites in Malden since 2009, all had one thing in common: all the dogs were off-leash and not under the direct control of a human. I can almost without a doubt say the majority, if not all, were unaltered, untrained and/or unsocialized. I am from Malden, born and raised until 5 years ago; I am active in the animal rescue and advocacy community as well as eradicating BSL in my newly adopted home, Miami. I have the opportunity to present proven alternatives as well as the efficacy of this ordinance and similar ones that have been enacted nationwide. I hope to be able to offer alternatives that will bring the pet-loving community of Malden together and reduce bites and increase registration, training, and vaccination of all breeds. Why work AGAINST the community? Try working with them first and foremost and I can guarantee the response will be overwhelming.
betty geist April 05, 2012 at 03:53 PM
kimx thay did have theAnimal Rescue League of Boston there and wanted to help them. Everything that you said in you comment was talk about to them Here a comment that couldn't be written better (The Council invited the Animal Rescue League of Boston to come and speak on behalf of this law. They are the ones who are the professionals, Kinnon is not. They told him about other alternatives, but Kinnon being Kinnon, and Kinnon always believing that he is God, refused to listen to them. The way that he spoke to them was shameful! Proper etiquette dictates that when you invite a guest, you show them respect. This man did not. He continuously talked down to them. It was embarrassing! ) And this is 100 % true I was there
kimx April 05, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Betty, I watched the entire exchange live over the internet. It was shameful how they were brushed off. However, I have a background with helping to repeal breed-specific legislation as well as drafting legislation that works. I reached out to the mayor's office and was well received and will be working in unison with them to show both sides of the token, and will hopefully be able to aid, or at least positively influence them, in their decision.
betty geist April 05, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Kimx and thay listen you you ?? I know there a lot of people would like to hear what going on. Can you keep us updated please My email is bgeist1@comcast.net
chuck t April 05, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I was walking my dog in my neighborhood when a neighbors pitbull pulled away so fast from the owner that the leash was yanked out surprising the neighbor. This dog which did not have a history of aggression and was raised with children, came after us and sunk its teeth into my dog. It did not respond to the owners command and it took both of us to get the dog off. I had to bring my dog to the vet for treatment which thw owner paid for. As a dog owner myself, I knew the pitbull's owner and did not find fault with his training or care for his dog. The police and Kevin Alkins of Animal control came as well and dealt with the situation. Several years later I still walk my dog with fear, this is not fair!!! I am very happy that this ordinance was passed. Sure it may have its faults, but it is a very positive step in protecting citizens. I am tired of being a victim. I cannot thank the city enough.
Jennifer April 05, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Funny Chuck, as I was walking with my husband, each of us holding the leash of our two AmStaff's", a Schnauzer pulled away from it's owner who was sitting in the grass. That Schnauzer came running up and bit my AmStaff. In another incident in the same area two smaller dogs on a Y leash had the handle dropped. This time I was able to put myself between my AmStaff and the two oncoming dogs. I felt a sense of guilty pleasure as I grabbed the leash at the junction of the Y and lifted the two little yippers up off the ground to keep them from advancing and attacking my dog. I love all animals but I will not hesitate to kick at another dog that is trying to bite mine. I will NOT let my AmStaff "Pitbulls" be labeled as vicious dogs for simply trying to protect themselves from an oncoming attack. I'm sorry your dog was attacked, injured and needed veterinary help. I'm sorry you are afraid to walk him. I'm sorry that our city council passed this ordinance rather than go back and work with the MSPCA and the ARL of Boston to try to come up with something better that would be actually useful. I'm sorry that I may have to sell my home in a city I've called home for 25 years so that I can continue to advocate for my breed of choice...because like me, the ones I adopt look different on the outside than what they really are on the inside.
Diana April 05, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Chuck, how many pits have you passed in the intervening years that didn't attack? I'm sorry for what happened to you, but if you want to get past your fear you'd be better off doing the math than counting on this ordinance to protect you.
Melissa April 05, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Two times in the past week, I've been walking on Clinton Street with my LEASHED American Pit Bull Terrier when she has had (the same) UNLEASHED Beagle run up to her and start jumping all over her. The owner stood across the street, a few hundred feet away saying, "here, Scooby", while the dog ignored him and continued to jump all over my dog. Finally, Scooby went back to his owner and continued to walk, unleashed, down the street and around the corner. Does the city need another ordinance that it doesn't care to enforce?
Monica F. April 05, 2012 at 08:12 PM
In some of the email correspondence that I have viewed from Kinnon regarding the BSL and the section 8 housing- There have been some highly questionable comments with what I feel insinuate racism. I am looking forward to reviewing the meeting upon it's release. Im also reviewing the statistics and claims made by Kinnon in the meeting as they seem to either be misleading or deliberately falsified. People cast votes based on the information he presented. They need to be made aware if in fact it was incorrect. We'll see.
Carol J. Merletti April 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I strongly believe that everyone should review this meeting when it becomes live. I also feel that it is time for the Council, and our Mayor, to sit Mr. Kinnon down and talk to him about his behavior during these meetings when he talks down to guests who are invited to speak. He is an embarrassment to our city.
betty geist April 05, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I pull up on a web site Best friends animal society It say that there estimated number of dogs in Malden is 12,740 that registered and the number of dogs describe as pitbulls 890 dogs you can pull up any city
betty geist April 06, 2012 at 01:15 AM
This is very interest on neal Kinnon go in a read Dec 10, 2011 · ... fact that the school administration and board (specifically Kinnon and his clan) have made many enemies and have operated by their own standards for many years. The UnOfficial MVRCS Blog: Food for Thought on the MVRCS Fiasco! More on this page Honestly, while I have my own opinions and thoughts regarding the Hogan/MVRCS fiasco, they are irrelevant as the story is just a symptom of a much bigger issue (in my opinion). After reading through all the comments, just some thoughts: 1. Was this story leaked to the media out of concern for the students of MVRCS and their contact with the ... Cached pageunofficialmvrcs.blogspot.com/2011/12/food-for-thought-on-mvrcs... 2 posts · By The UnOfficial MVRCS Blog · Published Dec 10, 2011
david mokal April 06, 2012 at 03:28 AM
I agree muzzle em. I was chased 3 times in the ward one area. The owners just laughed thought it was a joke. They are unpredictable. These dogs attack they go for your throat with tremendous pressure. Ther breed has changed its not the same pit bull that grandad had. Ive seen the viscious bites they can do. I would have thrown in pitbull insurance in the ruling. You have a pit and it has to be insured. The Drug dealers dog of choice. Too bad this breed turned out this way but 99% of the time it's the owners who are the jerks.
betty geist April 06, 2012 at 12:01 PM
David Like you said the owner just laugh, Drug dealers dog of choice.Do you think drug dealer going to get out of the town of Malden. NO They don't care about the dogs It the money.Clean up the drug dealers.Responsible people do leash their dogs It all about unleash dogs Malden need to get the drugs out of there town
Brian Drees April 09, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I attended the City Council meeting last week primarily to see for myself how the Council would handle this real and difficult issue regarding dog muzzles (I don't own a dog). I had to leave the meeting before it concluded with the vote, but not before hearing Malden's animal control officer present statistcal info for the past three years. I thought the most telling statistic was that 58 of the 58 dog bites over the past few years involved unleashed dogs. Yet, while I was in attendance, I don't recall any Councilor highlighting this very meaningful piece of information and exploring it further. I was incredulous to find out a day or two later that the Council's "solution" was to pass an ordinance requiring dogs entering the city on or after 5/1/12 to be muzzled. Obviously, this does nothing to address the issue in front of us today. I believe most people would agree that in most instances where there is a dog problem of some kind, the real issue is with the owner. Furthermore, without meaningful enforcement, it doesn't much matter what ordinances are passed. I think that each Councilor voting "yes" for this ordinance owes the public a detailed explanation of exactly how it is that the Malden public is now safer in terms of potential dog bites/attacks. From a big-picture perspective, you have to wonder about the decision-making skills of some councilors, as larger important issues regarding Malden's future loom ahead.
Chris Caesar April 09, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Brian, I believe Barbara Murphy brought up the fact that none of the dogs were leashed.
Gene Pinkham April 09, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Please read Pit Bull Bans: The State of Breed-Specific Legislation by Dana Cambell at Americanbar.org July/August 2009. Very good read offering common sense solutions. Also, dogs and other "animals" are not afforded 14th Amendment protection, nor should they be.
Stephanie April 17, 2012 at 02:24 AM
This issue has been brought up before and it is infuriating. Any dog can bite. Breed specific legislation is an ill-conceived and ineffective way of addressing the dog bite issue. A would be hitler(kinnon) brings this issue to light using resources like books titled criminals choose pitbulls, and making claims that these people use these animals as yet another weapon. I am one of "these people" and highly offended by his sweeping generalizations and overall character assassination of not only the breed but the owners. This idiot also tried to persuade a developer not to rent section 8 in a new development at a council mtg. And we as a city are ok with "this" type of person making decisions for the city in which we live and pay taxes? Meanwhile our city is going to hell, our roads are falling apart but this is what is considered a priority?!?!? If anyone needs a muzzle it is kinnon and mayor Christenson can start cleaning up the city by getting rid of him.
Diana April 17, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Oooooooookay... Stephanie, I'm on your side, but I think we should be able to get through this without any Holocaust references. Whenever you find yourself tempted to compare someone you disagree with to Hitler, take a deep breath and ask yourself "Really?" The answer will invariably be "Well, no."


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