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Riverside County considering ordinance that would require all pit bulls be sterilized

April 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Should the government be able to force pit bull owners to spay or neuter their pets?

Riverside County is considering proposing a law that would require all pit bulls and all mixes of the breed be sterilized. The controversial proposal has many residents torn.

Supporters say the dogs threaten public safety and are filling up animal shelters.

San Bernardino County approved a measure requiring all pit bull owners to spay or neuter their animals or face fines in 2010. Within one year, officials say the county saw a 19 percent drop in dog bites.

Now, the Board of Supervisors is reportedly contemplating following in San Bernardino County's footsteps and requiring the same law across Riverside County after a number of high-profile attacks.

On March 6, a pit bull mauled a 76-year-old woman in San Jacinto.

"The sentiment behind this from our leaders at the county level is they're frustrated that too many people are getting hurt seriously, some almost near death, and they're frustrated," John Welsh, Riverside Co. Animal Services spokesperson said.

Welsh says when pets are fixed or altered they tend to be less of a problem.

"We do have a philosophy that an altered dog, regardless of breed, tends to want to roam less, and when a dog is roaming less, it's going to get into less trouble, i.e., biting kids or senior citizens," Welsh said.

Outside the Rubidoux Animal Shelter, there are opinions on both sides from people who are in favor of forcing pit bull owners to have their pets fixed.

Some people say the requirement would make them feel safer.

"That way it's a little more controlled and contained, you know, less violence out there," Brandon Durerfeldt of Riverside said.

People who disagree with the idea of mandatory sterilization say the choice should be that of the pet owners.

"I think it would be better if it were under the owner's consideration to make that decision," Luis Arias of El Monte said.

Other people agree with Arias and say this is another case of lawmakers going too far.

"Government tends to step into too many people's lives too much, and in its own way by doing that, they're hurting other people like breeders, like myself," George Syrlow of Riverside said.

The Board of Supervisors is set to discuss the proposal Tuesday. No vote is expected since an ordinance has not yet been created. If the ordinance goes into effect, it would only apply to unincorporated areas of Riverside County.


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