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Pit bull advocates criticize new Riverside County sterilization law

October 09, 2013|By Rick Rojas

Pit bull advocates on Tuesday derided a new ordinance requiring that pit bulls be spayed or neutered in unincorporated parts of the Riverside County.

Officials said the move was an attempt to reduce the number of pit bull-breed dogs euthanized by county shelters but also to stem a threat to public safety highlighted by recent attacks.

Speakers became emotional as they stood before the Riverside County supervisors Tuesday, telling them about their encounters — both positive and negative — with pit bulls.

Supporters of the dogs contend that pit bulls have been unfairly targeted, maligned by sensational media coverage.

"It makes all our dogs guilty until proven innocent," said Josh Liddy, a pit bull advocate.

The ordinance prohibits residents of unincorporated areas from owning pit bulls older than 4 months that haven't been spayed or neutered with some exceptions.

"I've been told by people they're afraid to walk their own pet dogs through their neighborhood, or mothers afraid to walk their children in strollers through their neighborhood," said county Supervisor John Tavaglione. "It's time to say enough is enough .... I'm tired of seeing innocent people hurt."

His fellow supervisors agreed, voting unanimously in favor of the ordinance Tuesday.

The ordinance allows exceptions for animals owned by registered breeders, used by law enforcement or as therapy dogs, or that have been cleared by a veterinarian because of a specific health issue.

Officials agreed to an exemption for show dogs if their owners have proof they compete.

The ordinance, which did not include additional funding for animal control officials, will be enforced by a team of about 10 inspectors already at work canvassing neighborhoods and checking to see if dogs are licensed. Violating the ordinance is a misdemeanor and offenders will be fined.

"If one life can be spared through this ordinance," Supervisor Jeff Stone said, "it's one life worth saving."

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rick.rojas@latimes.com

Twitter: @RaR

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