Witch Hunt for Dogs in Cape Cod

Disturbing rumors about the propensity of Pit bull dogs having “a strong instinct for dominance” and a “prey drive that results in the aggressive pursuit of…human children” has created a witch hut to ban the dogs, in the small town of Mashpee, Massachusetts.


These troubling statements are just part of the language used in a proposed bylaw that will be heard in a Town Hall Meeting, in October.  According to the Cape Cod Times, the breed specific legislation would limit the number of pit bulls an owner is allowed to have in town to one and mandate the euthanization or removal of puppies born in the future.


The misguided bylaw reads, “In the event (a pit bull type dog has) a litter, the owner or keeper must deliver the puppies to the Town Kennel for destruction… Any pit bull puppies kept contrary to the provisions of this subsection are subject to immediate impoundment and disposal.”


The goal of the proposed new law is to hunt down all pit bull dogs and pit bull mixes and destroy their offspring.  Discussion of the bylaw has created rash decisions and panic that is similar to the witch hunts which took place in Massachusetts more than 300 years ago.  And just like the Salem witch hunts, decisions are being made on unfounded facts and speculation.


The problem began when Brendan Lopes and Tiffany Mendes started to build a new home for their family next door to Carmen and Melissa Shay.  The Shay family has two small daughters ages 6 and 8 that love to play in their backyard.  The Lopes-Mendes family consists of their 11-year-old son and six pit bull dogs, who also love to play in the yard.  A fence separates the two families.  The Shay family looks at the situation as a disaster waiting to happen to their small children.


On the other hand, the Lopes-Mendes family thinks of their dogs as “brothers and sisters” to their boy.  And when they moved-in they went to the town board to obtain a kennel permit so their four-legged family members would be law-abiding residents. 


That’s when the Shay’s objected and started a petition to ban the dogs.  They only needed 10 signatures, but were able to 19 neighbors to sign.  The strongly worded bylaw was drafted as a result of the petition and rumors.


“All of my dogs are very social family dogs.  We’re all for this (licensing hearing).  It weeds out irresponsible dog owners.  We’re just trying to live the American dream,” said Brendan Lopes.  The dogs are named: Mischief, Smokey, Killian, Romeo, Justice and Lyannough.


The Shay’s are fueling the controversy by giving out unfounded facts about pit bull dogs and posting pictures of random people who have been attacked or bitten by pit bulls in the past.  Melissa Shay said, “You can take all the precautions you want, but you can’t ensure that one (dog) won’t escape and get a kid playing baseball or a mother pushing her child on the swings.  We feel it could be catastrophic.”


The local veterinary clinic has tried to be a voice of reason for the town, by letting residents know that pit bulls are not more aggressive than other breeds and informing everyone that banning specific breeds does not cut down on dog bites and attacks. (Studies of pre and post dog bites in the U.K. and Spain both concluded that pit bull bans had no effect on reducing dog bites.)


The propaganda being spread in Mashpee is reminiscent what happened in Denver, CO. They ended-up passing one of the toughest pit bull bans in the country that put to death thousands of dogs and had officials searching door-to-door for non-compliant owners.  Denver is scheduled soon to hear a proposal to revise that law.


Animal welfare organizations are asking people to write to their legislators before October 19th, asking them to remove this proposed bylaw from the town hall meeting agenda.


Please sign the petition stopping the witch hunt for pit bull dogs in Mashpee, MA. 



Richard B.
Richard B.7 years ago

Pitbulls need alot of exercise they are not lap dogs but they are an awsome breed that I love. They get blamed for alot of attacks that are done by other breeds...The name pitbull alone is more sensational. Any breed can attack if it is not trained, is mistreated and is is left tied to a tree.

Graciela Siller
Graciela Siller7 years ago

I know that Pitbulls could have an aggresive temperament. People who are Pitbull owners should put an extra effort for taking responsibility of knowing how to treat these dogs with love, respect and special care!

Laura K.
Laura K.7 years ago

I know many pits are as sweet as pie. The thing you forgot to mention in your article is the massive power of a pits bite and it's nature to "NOT LET GO EVEN IF YOU ARE SHOOTING IT!!" They have been trained to hunt and kill! Would you want your neighbors next door to your children to own an alligator farm?"

carol g.
carol g.7 years ago


carol g.
carol g.7 years ago

pitt bulls are great dogs and if there is a problem it is due to the owners stupidness,i have 2 bully breed dogs and love them,I AM A RESPONSIBLE PET OWNER. THAT IS THE KEY .

Gabi B.
Gabi B.7 years ago

I bred birds. I no longer breed any animals. I am only involved in the education, rescue, rehoming and care of animals that need rehabilitated or have been neglected and/or abandoned.

Mary C.
Mary C.7 years ago

So which animals do you breed?

Gabi B.
Gabi B.7 years ago

Oh, and I did not say you supported a breed ban. I did ask that you actually read my comments before responding.

Gabi B.
Gabi B.7 years ago

Mary C. -

My animal husbandry involves many animals. My rescue and fostering over the years has involved many breeds to include Pitbulls. My experience and knowledge in this matter is fairly extensive. Does that answer your question.

As I said before, my answers are my answers. They are not predicated by whether you choose to like them or not. But if it makes you happy, I will state clearly that I would prefer to be attacked by a Cocker Spaniel over a Pitbull. This would be for the very reasons that I mentioned in regard to their physiology. This answer however does not in any way support your assertion, although based on your continued interest in the answer to the question, I would imagine you to believe that it adds some sort of credibility to an arguement.

I don't really know what you support or propose. I am responding to your negative reactionary posts to comments which have been in support of the Bully Breeds and against reactionary, knee jerk displays based on ignorance, fear and hysteria.

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M.7 years ago

My big concern here is this; there are so many of these dogs, of dangerous breeds that have been ruined by aggression training, abuse or neglect. People who are not getting these 'dangerous breeds' as puppies may be adopting a veritable time bomb. Without very specific skills for retraining these dogs (skills most people don't possess), there would be a high risk to the owner or others.

Back to my previous point - some kind of exam or licensing as a condition of such an adoption would help mitigate this risk.