Pit Bulls in California County Now Forced to Get Spayed and Neutered

A controversial ordinance was just passed in Riverside County, Calif., that requires all pit bulls in the unincorporated part of the county to be spayed or neutered for what officials say is an effort to lower the number of both attacks and pit bulls who are euthanized every year.

The ordinance, which takes effect in a month, will require all pit bulls and pit mixes over four-months-old to be altered, with exceptions for licensed breeders, dogs who work in law enforcement or therapy and for dogs who have a medical condition. Violations will be a misdemeanor and come with a fine.

John Welsh of the Riverside County’s Department of Animal Services told ABC News that the county takes in 3,500 to 4,000 abandoned and surrendered pit bulls annually, and that 80 percent of them are unaltered. Other numbers indicate that pit bulls make up 20 percent of the dogs in shelters and that an estimated 30 percent of them are euthanized.

The number of pit bulls who find themselves needing new homes and who are being killed is serious, but is targeting them with breed specific legislation the answer here?

Some critics of the ordinance don’t believe it’s fair to target pit bulls, or any specific breed, with mandatory spay/neuter laws and that if they are imposed at all they should encompass all dogs and cats. They also believe more should be done about irresponsible owners who don’t take care of their dogs properly or let them run loose.

Ledy VanKavage, a senior attorney for Best Friends Animal Society, said she believes this will only lead to even more pit bulls being euthanized because people who can’t afford the procedure will surrender their dogs.

Still others oppose mandatory spay/neuter laws entirely. Organizations including the the No Kill Advocacy Center, ASPCA and Alley Cat Allies, among others, don’t believe they will help with overpopulation in the long run. The latter two have conducted studies concerning the effectiveness of this type of legislation and have concluded that it doesn’t work and is difficult to enforce.

In general, those opposed to mandatory spay/neuter laws believe that making free and low-cost services available to areas that need them and that educating and empowering people who want to do the right thing, instead of threatening them with citations, fines and seizures, is a better and more effective option.

According to the ASPCA, communities that are having the greatest success reducing overpopulation all have something in common: a multifaceted, targeted community program that, in summary, is based on careful research on which populations are contributing to shelter intake and euthanasia, focuses on barriers to spay/neuter, has support and funding and has an efficient infrastructure to serve areas that need it the most.

According to Welsh, people need more of a push than that, stating that, “People are ultimately going to do what they wanted to do, it just takes a citation on their door to get them to do it.”

Is it fair to target pit bulls with this ordinance? Or should the county be focused on increasing access to free and low cost spay/neuter services, working to decrease the total number of animals euthanized every year through other programs and dealing with irresponsible owners individually?


Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Kate Kenner
Kate Kenner4 years ago

You are so right Pam!

I think this is a great idea. There are pits dying in shelters everywhere because of the lack of responsibility of people (Imagine that!). There are thousands of Petfinder if I remember correctly and it is time to stop this maddens. I ran into some guy onetime who was going to beed his pit because he thought he (the dog) might like to sire a litter. I told him about all the pits who need homes and how they re dying. he said he had people who wanted the pups his dog would sire and there was no talking him out of it. He really thought his dog would give a damn about being a father. Well, we all know how male dogs stick around to see their pups grow up. What an idiot.
I think it was his cojones talking.

I think pit bulls are excellent but they should not have to pay for the stupidity of people and this is a great plan.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe4 years ago

I think a lot of people want to spay or neuter their pets, but can't afford to.
Providing 'free' or 'low cost' spay or neuter options would get better reception than to make it mandatory!!

Latonya W.
Latonya W4 years ago

Cant wait for it to be mandatory here in NY

Jessamine B.
Jessamine B4 years ago

Though I am against BSL, I can't really criticize this law as it WILL protect pit bulls. It should be all dogs, though.

Summerannie Moon
Summerannie M4 years ago

It is known that a dog will mellow as do cats mellow when they have been neutered. They are much calmer. Also be kind in training your animal as kindness rather than bulliness and yelling, and the dog or cat or animal will be totally fearful for life or both that and aggressive.

Summerannie Moon
Summerannie M4 years ago

I actually havent met a lot of Pit Bull terriers but let me tell you the ones I have met were absolutely gorgeous. I met one at a petrol station with her family that is human mum, dad, toddler walking and a baby in the pram. She was on a lead and human mum said..sit! lie down! Stay! and that dog didnt move. Mum was doing something with her baby and she then directed the dog to change positions and the dog instantly did it. The dogs beautiful face looking at her family was that of adoration. When I finished pumping my petrol, the lady came inside too to do whatever she wanted to buy and i mentioned to her how gorgeous her dog was as well as uber obedient. She said she is brilliant and she has to be that way...you know... people dislike dogs such as her b/c of the bad wrap.' I said yes its the owners usually to blame. She thanked me re her dog.
Today listening to the radio usually I get to hear one of Melbs well known Vets taking calls and someone called in and asked about Pit Bulls. He said ' Pit Bulls are a lovely breed....... its the owners who treat them with disdain for all manner of reasons and for that and how they behave and its not just those dogs its any dog who is mistreated.' He then went on and said that mostly dog attacks have lessened so much thats its rare to hear of such things'. Its true. You do hear about them but its not that often.He went on to say that dogs that arent for breeding should be neutered and all Pit Bulls must be. It is known that a dog will

Susan Hoskam
Susan Hoskam4 years ago

I always say there should be a stop on breeding on any kind of dog/cat for let's say 5 or 7 years. Just to ensure that the existing dogs/cats in shelters get a chance too. I always get a lot of resistance when I talk about it (mostly from people who are breeding a specific breed). But now I see that a lot of people think like I think. Great! Maybe we can arrange this when we have enough voices? I live in the Netherlands (Europe).

Martina J.
Martina J4 years ago

Spaying and neutering is not a bad thing in general to stop overpopulation of Dogs and cats. But it should not be addressed at pitbull breeds only.