Tag Archives: California

Lake Elsinore California passes breed discriminatory spay/neuter law

Officials in Lake Elsinore, California, passed a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law at their meeting last night.

Citing high shelter populations of the targeted population of dogs, officials claimed the need for such a measure.

It is no coincidence that Lake Elsinore is located in Riverside County, which recently passed a breed discriminatory spay/neuter law.  When a county passes a law like this it usually applies only to the unincorporated areas of the county.  It is up to the incorporated areas to determine if they are going to pass a similar ordinance.  This is what we are seeing in Riverside County now.  First with the passage of the law in Riverside City and now with Lake Elsinore.

The law is the mirror of the county law the requires all targeted dogs the age of four months or older be altered.  Officials are passing these laws with little if any understanding of the effects of them.   There is mounting evidence that pediatric spay/neuter is detrimental to the health of dogs.  There is also substantial evidence that these laws increase shelter populations of targeted dogs, doing the exact opposite of what they are claiming is the goal of the law.

The ordinance is said to have exemptions for assistance dogs as well as “certified” breeders.  The fines for non-compliance $100 for a first offense, up to $200 for the second offense, and up to $500 for the third and each subsequent offense.  There was a bare minimum of media coverage for this issue and only one dissenting vote.

As with other places that have passed these laws, the spoken intention of the law is quite different from what the rhetoric implies.  For example, in Lake Elsinore a staff report stated that, “The Department of Animal Services for Riverside County has found that Pit Bull and Pit Bull mixes significantly impact the health and safety of residents and their pets.”

Once again we are seeing an attempt to work around the California state law that prohibits all other forms of breed discriminatory laws.  There is no doubt that if officials had the opportunity to enact some other form of restrictions, they would have tried to do so.

Officials have enacted a proven failed policy under the pretense of shelter populations which will take valuable financial resources away from the real issues that need to be addressed in the community.

What happened in Pasadena CA and what comes next

For some time Pasadena has been discussing mandatory spay/neuter.

A proposal that applied to all dogs was being discussed but was tabled for study after some opposition.  Before the breed neutral proposal could be brought forward, one particular councilman, Steve Madison, put forth a spay/neuter proposal that would target dogs deemed to be “pit bulls.”

The rhetoric from Mr. Madison went far beyond spay/neuter into discussion of seeking a ban and there has been a lot of talk about the mayor approaching state legislators to see if anyone would take up the issue of changing the state law that prohibits breed discriminatory bans and restrictions.

In the time leading up to the Pasadena city council meeting in which the breed discriminatory law was to be discussed, it had appeared that the proposal would pass comfortably.  Much of the council was unresponsive to inquires on their position and those who were vocal were extremely vocal in support of the proposal.  There were a few on the council that had come out to say that they were not in support of the proposal before the meeting but they were in the minority.  Riverside County and Riverside Cities ordinances, which the Pasadena ordinance is copied from, passed with the bare minimum of opposition.

Previous meetings in Pasadena were poorly attended and there was concern that the meeting with the vote would be similarly attended.

The meeting in which the Pasadena city council heard a proposal which would target dogs deemed to be pit bulls for mandatory pediatric spay/neuter was an extremely well attended meeting.

55 people spoke and according to attendees there were at least an additional 50 people present who chose to not speak but were there to show support.

Not one person who spoke did so in favor of the ordinance.

Speakers included a public safety statistician, health care professionals, members of the animal welfare community who work in shelters and rescues both in the community as well as the surrounding areas, home owners and various professionals and business owners in the community, teachers, law enforcement, military, owners of “pit bulls” and non-pit bull owners a like.

Topics included the failures of such policies to reduce kill rates, failure to increase public safety, the difficulty of enforcement and among the other failings of breed discriminatory laws in all their forms.

Some of the speakers were emotional, which is understandable considering the emotional nature of the situation, however the majority presented solid factual points to oppose the proposal.  During the speaking portion of the meeting, some officials were open and receptive.  More stepped up in order to openly oppose the proposal.  Mr. Madison, however, did not look at any of the speakers, and at the end when he commented, it became clear that he had not listened to any of the speakers, or had reviewed any of the ample information provided to the council before hand.

Right away, a motion was made to table the proposal and revisit it in July.  The idea was that they wanted everyone to be heard and didn’t think there would be enough time in order to do so that night, or that there were some that wanted to attend but were unable to do so, such as representatives from the local humane society.  The meeting went forward anyway.

After the lengthy public comment, the motion was revisited to table the proposal.   The motion passed with a vote of 4-3.  The proposal will be heard on Monday, July 14th.  At that point the proposal will be revisited, along with the breed neutral mandatory spay/neuter proposal.

The author of the proposal has since been very vocal in the press about the need for this ordinance, speaking out every chance he had saying the council had made a mistake in tabling the issue until July.  Every chance he has, he has been repeating the logical fallacies that are often used to justify breed discriminatory laws.

It has become abundantly clear that, though the rest of the council was open to the information and time spent by the business owners and residents of he community, Mr. Madison will be continuing to push forward with the breed discriminatory proposal.  He has openly stated in new media reports that “pit bulls” need to be regulated.  Madison has also stated that he would keep introducing the proposal until it is passed.

Had the vote been taken at the meeting, the proposal would have failed. The majority of the council members opposed the breed discriminatory proposal.

This issue is not finished yet, and those in the area should plan on attending the meeting in July.  An event organized by SwayLove.org can be found here, for people to coordinate their attendance.

All factual, respectful correspondence from Pasadena residents can be directed to the council:

bbogaard@cityofpasadena.net, jacquerobinson@cityofpasadena.net, mmcaustin@cityofpasadena.net, johnjkennedy@cityofpasadena.net, gmasuda@cityofpasadena.net, vgordo@cityofpasadena.net, smadison@cityofpasadena.net, ttornek@cityofpasadena.net, mbeck@cityofpasadena.net, jgutierrez@cityofpasadena.net, smermell@cityofpasadena.net, mbagneris@cityofpasadena.net, cityclerk@cityofpasadena.net, sfoster@cityofpasadena.net, ewalsh@cityofpasadena.net

Thank you to Josh Liddy, from SwayLove.org, for your continued hard work on this issue.

Riverside City CA changes spay/neuter law to actively target dogs resembling pit bulls

At last nights meeting, Riverside City California passed the changed to their already active spay/neuter ordinance that would target dogs officials declare to be a “pit bull.”

Riverside City already has a spay/neuter law in place.  By officials own admission, this law is not enforced with any regularity.  The only time it is enforced is if a dog is picked up by animal control or they receive a complaint about a dog and they find it is unaltered.

With a mandatory spay/neuter law already in place, we need to ask, what is the point of deciding to only actively target dogs based on their appearance?

Targeted dogs include Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Stafford Terriers and “mixes in which those breeds can be easily identified.”

The new law includes medical exemptions, exemptions for registered breeders and law enforcement dogs.  There are no exemptions for service dogs, show dogs, or other branches of working dogs.

Officials have not said how they will be “actively enforcing” the spay/neuter law,  how much money it will cost to do so or how they will be identifying dogs for enforcement.

This all seems a moot point, aside from the cost, considering that it is already a law to have your dog altered in Riverside City.

The changing of the law for targeted enforcement is bizarre.  It would seem to be common sense that the already existing spay/neuter law should be enforced if they are going to have it on the books.

Likely officials know that broad-based enforcement would be expensive, and have far-reaching detriments to shelter populations, so instead of enforcing what is already there, they have added more regulations.

Previous alert for Riverside City.

Riverside City CA seeks to change spay/neuter laws

Riverside City is seeking to change their current spay/neuter laws in the wake of the recently passed breed discriminatory spay/neuter law passed by Riverside County officials.

The Riverside County law only applies to unincorporated areas of the county, so it becomes the job of the incorporated areas of the county to decide if they will enact similar legislation.

Oddly, Riverside City already has a mandatory spay/neuter law that applies to all dogs, with some exemptions.  Officials have said that this law is enforced only when an animal is picked up for another violation, or if there is some kind of complaint.

The changes being sought would have city officials actively targeting dogs they think are pit bulls for enforcement.

It is expected that the change will mirror the Riverside County law, which requires that all dogs who are deemed to be a targeted type be altered by the young age of four months.

There has been no discussion by either the Riverside County officials or Riverside city officials about the implications for the health and welfare of the dogs that are being forced to undergo a pediatric procedure that is extremely controversial in the veterinary community.

The changes would target “Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Stafford Terriers and mixes in which those breeds can be easily identified. It would include exceptions for registered breeders, dogs with health issues that prevent sterilization and law enforcement dogs.” (read more)

Riverside City already has a spay/neuter law, so what is the motivation for targeting one type of dog for special enforcement and attention?  The language used by officials make their intentions very clear.

Increasing the conversations being had by officials in California is troublesome.  Officials in Pasadena were questioning the existence of the state law that prohibits all breed based laws with the exception of mandatory spay/neuter, saying their hands were “tied” and that was all they were able to do about their “pit bull problem.”   Riverside County officials started the conversation with promises to overturn the state law but, after the backlash, went for the more palatable spay/neuter.  Now there is Riverside City, who, if they change the current law, will be actively going after people whose dogs look a certain way, while not bothering to enforce the spay/neuter law that is in place for all other dogs unless they are caught.

There is something decidedly wrong with this pattern.

Breed discrimination is breed discrimination.  The laws are not designed to protect the dogs, they are not designed to keep the community safe.  They are there to target a group of dogs that officials feel need special monitoring and regulation based on nothing more than a gut feeling.

The issue is set for discussion on October 22nd  meeting of the Riverside City Council meeting, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., City Hall, 3900 Main St., Riverside.

Residents can find their City Council representatives on the cities website.


Riverside County CA passes breed discriminatory spay/neuter 5-0

October 8th, 2013, the Riverside County California board of commissioners met for a public hearing on the proposed breed discriminatory law targeting pit bulls for mandatory spay/neuter.

The commissioners voted 5-0 to enact the proposal, which makes it mandatory for any owner of a dog deemed to be a pit bull to have their dog altered by the age of 4 months in unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

The commissioners gave several different reasons for wanting enact the ordinance, from “protecting” the public from dangerous dogs, to curbing populations of pit bull like dogs in shelters.  The conversation on this law started out with the familiar anti-pit bull rhetoric, that all pit bulls were different from other dogs, vicious by nature, etc.  It was not until the blow back from a statement made about challenging the state law that prohibits restrictions or bans that officials began changing their story to attempting to “protect” pit bulls.  This is a familiar end run that is used by pro-BDL groups when they are backed into a corner.  It is a tactic that has been more and more common, and one that some cannot seem to see for what it is.

As Josh Liddy, from SwayLove.org, said in an interview on Pit Bulletin Legal News Radio, that even at the passage of the spay/neuter law, the language employed by officials was that which is used to justify bans.  The interview details the events of the ordinances passage.

Acceptance of any breed discriminatory law is acceptance that “these dogs are different.”  Regardless of how one feels about mandatory spay/neuter in general, this is something that the dog community strongly opposes in theory, but the in person presence did not reflect that at today’s meeting.

There are some exemptions in the ordinance for animals who are unable to undergo the procedure, registered breeders, law enforcement and other service dogs, dogs who are only in Riverside County but licensed elsewhere and dogs that are pending a breed determination.  There is nothing about service dogs that are in training or show dogs.

“Pit bull” is defined by the ordinance as, “Any Staffordshire Bull Terrier,  American Pit Bull Terrier, or American Stafford (the typo is in the ordinance) Terrier breed of dog, or any mixed breed of dog which contains, as an element of its breeding, any of these breeds so as to be identifiable as partially of one or more of these breeds.”  The “as an element of its breeding” is problematic, from an enforcement and constitutional standpoint, because it is implicit of 1% of the targeted breeds.  How officials intend to prove 1% of a breed in a mixed breed dog is still a mystery.  This is an open door to litigation and has resulted in the overturning of other ordinances with this language.

The new law mandates that all targeted dogs, that are not exempted, be altered by 4 months of age.  There is a lot of debate about the detriments of pediatric spay/neuter in the veterinary community.  It is disturbing that officials would mandate a procedure that has a potential for serious health repercussions down the line.  What is even more disturbing is that a vet was on the panel today and this issue seems to have escaped his notice entirely.

People have 30 days from the ordinances passage to come up with the money to have their puppies and dogs fixed.  

Officials have said nothing about low-cost options for people who do not have the hundreds of dollars immediately, or people who may have been saving to have their dogs altered.  That would have been the better route, community outreach, education and extreme low cost spay/neuter for anyone who needs it, and making these things accessible to people who do not have transportation.  Many places have chosen this route over mandatory laws, which usually end in higher shelter intake, and have amazing successes.  It is a shame that this option was not implemented.

The full ordinance can be viewed here.

Pasadena, CA – Councilman Wants Ban on Pit Bulls

According to the Pasadena Sun, Steve Madison, City Councilman for Pasadena believes a ban on pit bulls should be considered within city limits because he says the ‘powerful and sometimes aggressive dogs pose an inherent threat to public safety.

Steve McNall, President of the Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA says that such a law would unfairly punish responsible pit bull owners.

“It’s a discrimination issue, to take somebody’s personal property, a family member, and kill it?  The last time I checked, this is the United States, not Russia.”  McNall said Council would not receive his or any other animal welfare leader’s support.  The Humane Society provides the city with animal control services by contract.

The push for stronger “bully-breed” regulations started five years ago when Councilwoman Margaret McAustin, representing a neighborhood where a ‘group’ of pit bulls roaming at-large bit several people, said she would support stronger laws for Pasadena.

Under the current law, animal control officers can impound dogs that attack people or display other aggressive tendencies.  Officer can also fine owners that do not license their dogs.

McAustin said, “We shouldn’t let up on our efforts to control dangerous breeds, but dogs are trained to be aggressive by people who want aggressive dogs.  We have to get at that behavior, the problem we really have is irresponsible owners and if we can’t regulate the dogs, we have to regulate the owners.”

Due to California state law prohibiting cities from banning any specific breed however, the likelihood of a ban is nil.  Instead, officials are considering that any Pasadena pit bulls be subject to mandatory spay and neutering, an ordinance structured on the current San Francisco law.  You can read more about San Francisco’s breed ID check-list in our previous “Difficulty of Breed Identification Article”.

Please send your POLITE, RESPECTFUL and INFORMATIVE correspondence to:
Mayor Bill Bogaard - bbogaard@cityofpasadena.net
Councilwoman Jacque Robinson, 1st District via Field Representative, Tina Williams - district1@cityofpasadena.net
Ph:  (626) 744-4444
Fax: (626) 396-7300
Councilwoman/Vice Mayor Margaret McAustin, 2nd District - mmcaustin@cityofpasadena.net
Ph:  (626) 744-4742
Councilman Chris Holden, 3rd District via Field Representative Jacueline McIntyre - (626) 744-4742
Ph: (626) 744-4738
Fax:  (626) 744-4774
Councilman Gene Masauda, 4th District via Field Representative, Noreen Sullivan - nsullivan@cityofpasadena.net
Ph:  (626) 744-4740
Councilman Victor M. Gordo, Esq, 5th District via Field Representative, Vannia DeLaCuba - vdelacuba@cityofpasadena.net
Ph:  (626) 744-4741 or (626) 831-8609
Fax:  (626) 398-1836
Councilman Steve Madison, 6th District - smadison@cityofpasadena.net
Ph:  (626) 744-4739
Councilman Terry Tornek, 7th District - ttornek@cityofpasadena.net
Ph:  (626) 441-4802
Fax:  (626) 441-4806

You may also include correspondence to City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneris by visiting the Pasadena City Attorney’s page and City Manager Michael J. Beck at the City Managers page.