The City of Auburn is proposing mandatory spaying or neutering of nearly all pit bull dog breeds living within the Placer County city. The proposed action - up for vote by the city council tonight - comes in response to a September attack the nearly killed a 17-year-old boy.
If the ordinance is enacted, Auburn would join a handful of cities statewide that have enacted requirements that specific breeds be fixed.
"I don't think you can make anything more restrictive," noted William Wong, the Auburn administrator shepherding the ordinance update.
In September, an attack by four pit bulls nearly claimed the life of Joseph "JoJo" Kerschner. Three have since been put down. The fourth is being rehabilitated by celebrity dog rescuer Tia Maria Torres of the Animal Planet reality show "Pit Bulls and Parolees."
Adding fuel to the fire, earlier this month a 91-year-old Auburn man was attacked by his neighbor's pit bull.
The proposed ordinance includes exceptions for show dogs, dogs being used for breeding, dogs under six months of age and for specific health reasons. Violators of the ordinance would be subject to a $100 fine.
The city is also looking at limiting the number of dogs per household at two (existing households would be excluded), updating leash requirements, and allowing preemptive action against "potentially dangerous dogs."
Wong said he expected the mandatory spay/neuter requirements for Pit Bulls to be the most controversial.
"Most of this is just updating our dog ordinance," Wong said.
The Sacramento Bee
Update May 25, 2010 8:18am - CBS-13 reports that pet owners and animal activists filled the meeting last night to protest the restrictions.
Opponents to the ordinance said the animals are not the problem and increased enforcement should focus on their owners.
"The cities happen to never target the right people. They target the responsible owners that are registering their dogs, keeping their dogs under control," said Lorelei Craig.
Supporters of the ordinance said the public safety issue takes precedence, citing a recent attack on 91-year-old Kenneth Heffren left him with severe bite wounds on his hands and wrist that went down to the bone after a neighbor's 90-pound pit bull got into his backyard.
"It's a bad expression to use when you deal with a pit bull, but I think this ordinance has some teeth to it. I think that's necessary," said Frank Ford, a member of the Safe Streets Commission. "This isn't where German Shepherds are attacking people… it's the pit bull."
The Auburn City Council has not approved the ordinance, but scheduled a second hearing on June 14 to further discuss the issue.
Update May 25, 2010 8:50am - The Auburn Journal reports that City Council members made suggestions for changes in the second reading of the proposed amendments. These included changing the number of dogs allowed in one home according to zoning laws as well as adding a provision to allow for more dogs in a home where they are being fostered or trained as assistance animals. Council members also suggested a review of the amendments if they are passed in the future.