The day after witnessing Chance maul Muffin to death on Parkview Drive, Lynette Tremblay bought a cattle prod.
Tremblay carries it to keep danger at arm's length when she walks her two dogs through the neighborhood. Should Chance — a 74-pound PIT BULL-BOXER MIX — escape its confines again, she could shock it and send it running.
The June 25 fatal encounter between Muffin, a Maltese toy breed owned by Linda Albino, and Chance, owned by Dianne Pizzanello, has set residents on edge and prompted calls for a renewed pit bull ban in the city. A Superior Court judge ruled in 2014 that the city's ordinance — in effect for at least a decade — violated a state law prohibiting municipalities from banning specific breeds.
"It's just scary. Everybody's afraid," said Tremblay, whose apartment building faces Pizzanello's house. She watched that day as Chance burst through Pizzanello's screen door, ran at Albino, and "just tore and tore and tore" at Muffin. "There's people walking with knives, with all kinds of things. They're petrified."
In an interview last week, Albino said the death of Muffin, a 12-year-old service dog who helped her cope with stress, has shattered her for good.
"He [Chance] slaughtered my dog in my arms," Albino said. "My little guy was my whole life. I felt every tooth mark go through my dog. I'll never, never, never, never get over it."
Albino said she worries about children and elderly people in particular: "If that dog is not in that pen, it's going to do bodily harm."
Pizzanello said Monday: "I’m telling you the truth, Chance is not an aggressive dog. He is a very friendly, very sweet dog ... I cannot begin to explain why that happened. He’s an animal — they do unpredictable things. He’s not at all aggressive. Nobody who has ever met him has seen him do anything other than wag his tail and be friendly towards them."
City Councilor Terrence Mercer said at his request, letters have been sent to local legislators who represent Pawtucket to "revive and redouble our efforts to keep our residents safe" by reintroducing legislation to allow municipalities to have breed-specific dog bans. A bill to introduce that failed in 2015.
was walking Muffin on June 25, "when I heard Lynette [Tremblay] scream to pick Muffin up." Chance "ran between my legs" and grabbed hold of Muffin "and shook him like a rag doll," she said.
"I was covered with blood from my toes to my head," Albino said. Muffin, whom she said suffered 17 puncture wounds, was rushed to an animal hospital in Swansea where attempts to revive the dog failed.
Pizzanello said she was unaware Chance had gotten out. Then, "I heard the woman across the street yelling and screaming." She said she apologized profusely" to Albino as the dog lay on a neighbor's deck.
Pizzannello does not deny that Chance mauled Muffin, but she said, "There's no way to determine if the length of time that it received or didn’t receive care contributed in any way to its demise. I’m just saying, if it were my dog, I would have picked it up, put it in my car and taken it immediately to the vet. It was still alive when I saw it. It was definitely still breathing when it was on the deck on the ground."
Not so, says Maureen Medeiros, a neighbor who tended to Muffin on the the deck.
"He was bleeding out. I picked it [Muffin] up, and it died in my arms," Medeiros said. "Horrible. Horrible."
hearing determined that Chance was a "vicious dog" under Rhode Island law, Chance was allowed to return from the pound under essentially home confinement.
The dog panel ordered that Chance be enclosed in a six-sided pen at all times while in the yard. He must otherwise be leashed and muzzled whenever he is outside the yard. Pizzanello was ordered to obtain $100,000 in liability insurance.
Neighbors say Chance had gotten loose from the yard a number of times before Muffin was killed and chased people and their dogs.
Last Friday, next-door neighbor Merrill Rodenbaugh reported to animal control that the dog was loose in the yard. "I've actually called four times since that dog has been released," she said. "This is very frustrating. I feel like I'm just not getting anywhere."
Pawtucket animal control officer Kevin Mooney said Chance "was able to chew through a couple of metal ties. The dog did get out of the enclosure, that’s true. They are in the process of repairing that. In the meantime, the dog will only go out into the yard on a leash to go to the bathroom."
Pizzanello, who owns another pit bull, a miniature poodle and three cats, said if she believed Chance was dangerous, "I would euthanize the dog." Last November, she had a German shepherd put down because she thought it was "at risk for being aggressive."
Though confinement hampers Chance, "He’s alive, and I love him and he’s my companion," Pizzanello said. Except when she brings Chance out to relieve himself, "He spends most of his time alone with me when I’m home. He’s always in the house with me."http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20160822/vicious-pit-bull-in-pawtucket-kills-maltese-in-owners-arms--video