Council bites back
City approves ordinance requiring owners to sterilize pit bulls
By André Coleman 11/27/2013
Pit bull owners who claimed recent efforts to draft an ordinance requiring all dog owners to spay and neuter their pets was a thinly veiled attack on pit bulls were apparently right after all.
On Monday, the Pasadena City Council voted 6-1 to have city staff draft an ordinance that would require all pit bull owners to sterilize their pets once the dog reaches 4 months. Registered breeders, animals used by law enforcement and dogs facing health issues during sterilization are exempt from the new law.
Only Councilwoman Jacque Robinson voted against the measure introduced by Councilman Steve Madison. Councilman John Kennedy was absent from the meeting.
“Every month or two you hear about a pit bull killing a toddler or senior,” said Madison. “We want to stop it before it happens here.”
While other communities have experienced these types of incidents, there have been no fatalities caused by pit bulls in Pasadena.
In October, a man was bitten by a pit bull that was not on a leash while walking his dog in Victory Park. The man was trying to stop the animal from mauling his pet. Councilman Gene Masuda, whose district includes Victory Park, told the Pasadena Weekly that the man was not seriously injured. Since the incident, the Public Works Department has placed more signage in the park, reminding dog owners to keep their pets on leashes.
Pasadena Humane Society Spokesman Ricky Whitman said that the agency opposed the new ordinance, which is modeled after a similar law recently passed in Riverside County.
“Who is going to determine if a dog is a pit bull?” Whitman said. “This will solve the problem short term, but the long-term problem is population control and we favor a mandatory spaying and neutering ordinance on all breeds.”
Fifteen percent of the dogs in the care of the Pasadena Humane Society are pit bulls, while 27 percent of all dogs euthanized are of that breed. Under the new ordinance, pet owners out of compliance could be charged with a misdemeanor or an infraction and face fines.
On a number of occasions since 2008, city officials have discussed imposing a ban on pit bulls or initiating mandatory neutering of the breed. Each time, the council was discouraged from taking those routes due to a California state law prohibiting the banning of particular breeds. Spaying and neutering have been shown to reduce aggression in dogs, according to a city staff report, which is what a number of council members said they want to see happen, especially when it comes to pit bulls.
The ordinance is modeled after a similar ordinance unanimously passed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors targeting pit bulls for mandatory sterilization, requiring spaying and neutering of all pits older than 4 months. Previously it was believed that an ordinance targeting a specific breed was illegal, but according to Public Works Director Siobhan Foster, the city consulted with officials in Riverside before placing the item on the council agenda in Pasadena.
“We are confident it can stand up to any legal challenge,” Siobhan said.