At its April 9 meeting, the board of supervisors authorized the department of animal services to draft a proposed ordinance to control the population of pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs in Riverside County.
Six different people spoke for and against the idea, but the board felt that getting a proposal and future public hearings on the subject would be in the county’s best interest.
Unfortunately, another pit bull attack on an elderly Hemet resident, resulting in the death of her dachshund, was reported last week.
Thousands of pit bull and pit bull-type dogs live in Riverside County, according to Robert Miller, director of the county Animal Services Department. However, only 120 pit bulls are licensed with the county.
“We are not asking to ban the breed,” Miller stressed. “We want reasonable regulation to help enforce and to encourage people to do the right thing.” Nearly 20 percent of dogs in the county shelters are pit bulls, he added.
The draft ordinance will be focused on controlling and limiting these dogs’ population growth. However, the board recognized the right of breeders to function within the law, so they asked Miller to include several exemptions to the sterilization requirement.
Miller said he would also advocate that cities within the county adopt a similar ordinance, otherwise its effectiveness would essentially be negated.
Opposing the ordinance’s concept, Aurora Chavez of Riverside said, “You’re genociding a whole breed of animals. It’s not the animal’s fault, go after the owners.”
Another suggested that costs for neutering or spaying these dogs were a disincentive for owners. Board Chair John Benoit (4th District) asked Miller to consider preparing this issue as part of a draft ordinance.
Richard Vaschez, a Marine staff sergeant, spoke in favor of the dogs. “I have a pit bull service dog and need him because I have PTSD. They help combat-wounded soldiers and these animals are being stereotyped.”
One of the final speakers was Willa Bagwell, executive director of Animal Friends of the Valley in Wildomar. “This is a gruesome problem. Our shelter is full of pit bulls and this is the responsible thing for you to do.”