Riverside County, California Mandatory Spay/Neuter Law for “Pit Bulls” on Board Agenda For Sept. 24, 2013

While breed-specific legislation (BSL) requiring “pit bull” owners to spay and neuter their dogs may seem different than an out-and-out ban on “pit bulls,” it’s really not.   BSL — whether it bans your dog or merely restricts your dog in some way — is still BSL; it’s still the same old tired, impotent, unenforceable legislation that for decades now has proven not to work.   It’s still the legislation that President Obama just a few weeks ago said was “largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources” which is why he and the White House, “dont support breed-specific legislation” and one can assume that means BSL in any form.

Yet the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is poised on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, to consider a “pit bull” sterilization ordinance, or mandatory spay/neuter law (MSN), which would, you guessed it, require the spaying and neutering of “pit bulls” 4-months old or older in the county’s unincorporated areas.

As always, there are exemptions for certain “pit bulls” — which, once again, is vaguely defined by Riverside County as “Any Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or American Stafford [sic] Terrier breed of dog, or any mixed breed of dog which contains, as an element of its breeding, any of these breeds so as to be identifiable as partially of one or more of these breeds” — including registered breeders, “pit bills” used by law enforcement, service dogs, dogs too sick or infirm to be sterilized, and dogs from outside the county that are licensed elsewhere.  

And also like always, good luck Animal Control officers and law enforcement trying to figure out what the heck a “pit bull” is as defined by your own ordinance, and good luck “pit bull” owners or owners of any dog that looks like a “pit bull” in trying to comply with such a vague definition of “pit bull.”   But you can be sure, whether you or law enforcement are able to tell if you have a “pit bull” or not, you will be guilty of a misdemeanor for not having that may-be-a “pit-bull” or may-not-be-a “pit-bull” sterilized.  

And also like always, dog licensure compliance will plummet and kill rates will skyrocket.   How do we know?   Because in 1991, San Mateo County, California, passed the nations first MSN law and kill rates in areas covered by the ordinance increased 126% for dogs and 86% for cats while areas of the county not covered by the ordinance saw a decrease in kill rates.   Meanwhile, licensure compliance declined by 35%.

Likewise, L.A. County passed an MSN law in 2000 and recorded a decline in licensure and an Animal control budget that went from $6.7 million to $18 million.   The same happened in Santa Cruz, California.   Their 1995 MSN law saw licensing drop and costs rise significantly.   And if Fort Worth, Texas is any indication, vaccination compliance will likewise drop off.  

Like BSL, MSN is demonstrably ineffective and woefully inadequate in addressing the real problems the community is facing.   So are BSL and MSN really viable options just because you don’t know what else to do?


 *As noted by the media covering Riverside, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors will not be voting on the ordinance Tuesday, September 24, 2013. At this time, a public hearing is tentatively scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 8, 2013, at the Board chambers in the County Administrative Center in Riverside. The board could vote on the ordinance after that.


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