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Program pushes pit bull owners to fix dogs

December 31, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A new program aims to push pit bull owners to get their pets fixed, and it may also relieve overcrowded shelters.Like many pet owners, Patrick O'Neil and his brother spend a lot of time with their adopted pit bulls, whether it's tug-of-war, riding the skateboard or just sitting on the couch.

"This is their house, we just live here," O'Neil said.

But unlike many pit bull owners, both of their dogs are fixed. O'Neil says he doesn't know why so many owners refuse to get their pit bulls fixed.

"It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because you're going to have more pit bulls in shelters, more pit bulls running around," said O'Neil.

In fact, that's exactly what's happening in Riverside County.

"We're never at a shortage of pit bulls and many of these pit bulls aren't going to loving homes," said John Welsh of Riverside County Animal Services.

Just walking around the animal shelter, you get an idea as to how bad the problem is. Officials say 90 percent of the pit bulls that come in aren't fixed.

"In some parts of the community there is that macho, I'm not going to get my pit bull fixed, because I don't want my dog to be any less macho. Get your dog fixed," said Welsh.

And hopefully, a $10,000 grant from PETCO will help.

It's money that riverside county animal services will use to help owners get their pets spayed or neutered. They're calling it, the Pit Bull Project.

"We're saying come, we're going to try to offset some of that cost," said Welsh.

And hopefully, the grant will help more owners make the same decision the O'Neils made to get to their pit bulls fixed.

To qualify for the Pit Bull Project:

  • Dog owner must show proof of residency in Riverside County (a current driver's license or California ID with a Riverside County address is acceptable).
  • The dog must be a pit bull or pit bull mix.
  • The dog must be owned by an individual (sorry, no foster organizations or rescue group animals); stray animals or shelter animals will be allowed.
  • Determination whether the dog is a pit bull will be up to the discretion of Animal Services staff; documentation of breed history can be provided, but the final decision is up to Animal Services staff; the dogs identified as a breed other than a pit bull can still qualify for the county's regular, low-cost spay/neuter prices.
  • To be put on the Pit Bull Project list, call 951-358-PETS (7387) or 951-358-7135 (ask for Felix Ruvacalba).
  • Please note that owners are expected to cover the cost of any necessary rabies vaccinations, current dog license and microchipping. That means some owners could be expected to pay up to about $40 to participate.