Monday, May 7, 2012

Upland considers mandatory sterilization of "pit bulls"

Upland Mayor and City Council
Upland City Hall
460 N. Euclid Ave.
, Ca 91786
(909) 931-4107 (Fax)
May 7, 2012
Dear Mayor and City Council Members,    
 The California Federation of Dog Clubs, founded in 1990, represents thousands of dog owners across our state. We are advocates for animal welfare and for protecting the rights of responsible dog owners. The CFoDC conducts breed identification workshops for shelter workers, distributes a dog care and training brochure for new owners who adopt from shelters, and provides a 1-800 help line for pet owners struggling with behavior or training problems. We also maintain and administer a relief fund for animals affected by disasters such as earthquakes or fires. CFoDC supports animal legislation which positively benefits society.
The California Federation of Dog Clubs urges you to reject any mandated spay-neuter proposal, particularly when attempting to single out a specific breed or breeds.
For decades, one of the most popular types of dog in this country has been those of the "bully" breeds. This type of dog has served as the mascot for the "Little Rascals", the logo dog for "Target" stores, the dog listening with rapt attention to the RCA Victrola, and the "Spuds Mackenzie" dog in beer commercials. Helen Keller owned a beloved bull terrier. Millions choose dogs of this type when selecting a family dog, and why not? The Bull Terrier was known in Victoria times in England as the "nanny dog" because it was so reliable with children. Bulldog breeds are smart and loyal and brave, known on many occasions to save the lives of their owners.
Attempting to target a certain type of dog simply because it is popular makes no sense whatsoever. Responsible owners will be unfairly affected, while the problem owners will be unlikely to comply with any new laws. So-called "pit bulls" are not any more apt to bite than any other breed of dog. Due to current popularity trends, there are simply more of this type of dog represented in the community than most other breeds. Chihuahuas are also very popular, and also are also over-represented in statistics. It is insulting to read ignorant comments from people who claim that "THEY will move to Upland to be able to breed their vicious dogs". Bull breeds are no more vicious or threatening than any other breed, and stereotyping owners is as offensive as stereotyping the dogs.
Enforcement of existing leash and confinement laws is the most effective way to prevent canine nuisance incidents. Cooperation with local breed rescue groups, providing low-cost spay-neuter services and marketing of shelter pets to the public at adoption events have all been successfully-used methods to achieve reductions in shelter intake and death statistics.
Mandatory sterilization and breed-specific laws are opposed by all mainstream animal welfare organizations, including the American Kennel Club, the National Animal Interest Alliance, the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, and the American Veterinary Medical Association. These laws simply don't work. In fact, such laws are counterproductive.
Everywhere mandatory sterilization and breed-specific laws have been tried, they have failed. Punitive and coercive laws are burdensome on the citizenry, particularly the elderly and low-income families, who often simply ignore the unreasonable spay-neuter mandate. Enforcement costs rise, and shelter intakes and deaths also subsequently rise when people cannot afford the fines and, in many cases, the cost of the sterilization procedure itself.
Legislation attempting to target specific breeds has been a documented failure with breed-specific laws also unable to withstand legal challenges. Baltimore, MD estimated in 2001 that it spent over $750,000 per year for their breed-specific law and they were still unable to effectively enforce it. They chose to repeal the law, as did Saginaw, Michigan and other locations. On February 21, 2012, Ohio Governor John Kasich officially signed Ohio HB 14 into law, which prohibits discrimination by breed. Dogs in Ohio will now be regarded by their behavior instead of their appearance.
Studies prove that that while de-sexing may decrease dog-to-dog aggression some of the time, it actually increases the risk of aggression directed toward humans. Spay-neuter also has many documented adverse health effects, particularly when performed on juvenile animals. It is unfair to the owner and the dog to force spay-neuter. The decision for spay-neuter should be made on a case-by-case basis, by an owner in consultation with their veterinarian, and not by government policies based on bad science and faulty logic.
CFoDC has produced a powerpoint breed ID program for shelter personnel. We would be happy to provide you with a complimentary presentation any time. We can state unequivocally that it is impossible to ID a supposed "pit bull" or mix. There are at least 25 breeds of dogs that are commonly mistaken for "pit bulls", including Rottweilers, Boxers, and even Labrador Retrievers.
Mandatory sterilization and breed-specific laws are ineffective, unconstitutional and unreasonable
Geneva Coats, R.N.
California Federation of Dog Clubs
Cc: Ray Musser, Brendan Brandt, Kenneth W. Willis, Gino Fillipi

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