Ingrid, a 6-year-old pit bull, seen here at Little Shelter,...

Ingrid, a 6-year-old pit bull, seen here at Little Shelter, where she has been waiting to be adopted for the past two years. (May 16, 2010) Credit: Newsday / Ken Sawchuk

The Rockville Centre Village board, facing criticism from animal rights advocates for enacting a ban on pit bulls and Rottweilers, is set to vote Tuesday night on a measure to suspend the law's implementation.

The code, passed on June 8 by a vote of 4 to 1, has provoked a swift response from local and national groups, who say the act itself violates a 1997 state law that forbids municipalities from controlling specific breeds of dogs.

"Singling out dogs for enhanced government regulation based on breed rather than behavior is precisely the [injustice] sought to be prevented by . . . the state law," Debora Bresch, an attorney for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, wrote in a letter last week to village officials.

Under the law, village residents who already own such dogs may keep them under certain conditions. Owners must spay or neuter the animals, muzzle and leash them in public, insure them against liability for at least $100,000 and pay for annual licenses.

Unlicensed pit bulls and Rottweilers may be impounded by the police, animal control officers or the building inspector, and shelters may destroy them, according to the ordinance.

Bresch said the law authorizes untrained officials to identify dog breeds and lacks adequate notice requirements and due process for owners whose dogs are seized. "The ordinance is rife with constitutional" problems, she said.

Trustee Edward Oppenheimer, who cast the sole vote against the legislation, called the law "overkill," saying the village code already contained laws that mandate leashes and protect against vicious animals.

Oppenheimer, a volunteer paramedic with the village for more than 30 years, said he couldn't recall any emergency calls for dog attacks during his service. "It was anticipating a problem that we have yet to see," he said.

Village Mayor Mary Bossart declined to comment on the rationale for the law.

At tonight's village board meeting, set for 8 p.m. at Village Hall, trustees will schedule a public hearing on July 20 to consider the repeal of the law, village spokesman Jeff Kluewer said.

Kluewer declined to comment on whether the village had a record of attacks or incidents involving these breeds.

Sue Weiss, president of the East Meadow-based Long Island Coalition of Dog Fanciers, said this law was "worse than any other law I've ever seen" in more than 20 years of activism in the downstate region.

"We worked so hard for years to get a law passed to prevent breed-specific legislation because it doesn't work," said Weiss, adding that members planned to protest the law at the meeting.

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