The Rockville Centre Board of Trustees threw dog fanciers a bone last night, voting unanimously to repeal Local Law 9, enacted on June 8, which had banned pit bulls and Rottweilers in the village.
The move came during the board meeting which was held in the Recreation Center, instead of its usual Village Hall venue, to accommodate an overflow crowd of about 500 who packed the gym to again voice opposition to the ban. Along with those filling the bleachers and folding chairs and were two pit bull-type service dogs, a mother and daughter named Wrinkles and Cinammon, who were initially denied entry to the building.
Mayor Mary Bossart told the crowd that the board would be voting to repeal the controversial law —the subject of much media coverage in recent weeks. The trustees had already suspended it at their June 29 meeting.
At the beginning of a lengthy public comment period of about two hours, during which only one of 30 or so speakers said she supported the ban, Bossart said that control of dogs in the populous village continues to be a vexing issue, and that residents have complained.
“We are sworn to uphold the constitution,” she said, “and that is why I’m voting to repeal [the law].”
Bossart suggested that the board might work to craft another law that “meets the needs of village residents” — one that could possibly force large dogs or dogs of certain breeds to wear muzzles in public.
But speaker after speaker called on the five board members to consider any restrictions to dogs on a case-by-case basis, saying that the dog must have done something wrong. They argued that dog laws already on the books are sufficient. Many also argued that so-called “breed specific legislation” is ineffective and unconstitutional, violating the due process and rights of residents and dog owners, and that such legislation is ultimately costly to the municipality.
Others at the public hearing voiced concern that if allowed to stand, dog bans such as the one enacted in Rockville Centre could spread to their communities. They said that owners need to be held accountable for neglect or abuse —treatment that could potentially harm their dogs and turn them vicious. “It’s the deed, not the breed,’” they told the board.