UPDATE: Dane Co. Humane society opposes proposed Madison pit bul - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Dane Co. Humane society opposes proposed Madison pit bull ordinance

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Dane County Humane Society is speaking out against a proposed city ordinance mandating the spaying or neutering of most pit bulls.

The ordinance, set for a final vote before the Madison City Council on March 18, requires pit bulls five months or older be spayed or neutered.

The ordinance is meant to cut back on Madison's pit bull population and contains exemptions for licensed breeders and show dogs.

Patrick Comfert, leadworker for Madison and Dane County Animal Services, said pit bull breeds account for almost half of the abandoned dogs his agency comes across.

"The folks we're hoping to reach with this ordinance are the people that have pit bulls as status

symbols or are using them to make puppies for profit," Comfert said.

Gayle Viney, public relations coordinator with the Dane County Humane Society, said she's skeptical the ordinance will work as planned. She said mandating people pay to have pit bulls spayed or neutered would likely lead to more people abandoning pit bulls at area shelters.

"If there are fines associated with not having your animal spayed or neutered, or if your animal is taken from you, brought to a humane society and you have to pay a fine to redeem the animal and then pay to have it spayed or neutered, people are not going to follow that," Viney said.

Viney said a better solution is to offer "low or no-cost" spaying and neutering programs. She said the humane society already offers some.

"If there's a way to put more funding into these programs and broaden the scope, we're going to be able to reach more people in communities that want to have their animals spayed or neutered," she said.

But Comfert said he does not believe the proposal, if enacted, would lead to more pit bulls in local shelters.

"This is not a seizure-based ordinance," he said, adding the city would not have the authority to take anybody's dogs. "All we can do is issue a citation."

"It's a violation-based ordinance, which means unless we're called to a violation by the pit bull of some sort, we're not going to know if a dog is neutered," Comfert said. "We're not going to come out and be searching for un-neutered animals."

Comfert added the ordinance would include a one-year "warning" period in which warnings, rather than citations bringing monetary fines, would be issued.

Madison Alder John Strasser, who authored the ordinance, said he is meeting with representatives from both the national and Wisconsin humane societies Thursday.

Strasser said by phone Wednesday he was surprised to see the Dane County Humane Society take a position ahead of that meeting.

"It's disheartening," Strasser said. "It tells me they really are not interested in a solution."


MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County Humane Society is asking the Madison Common Council to vote against a proposal that would require all pit bulls over five months old to be spayed or neutered.

The Public Safety Review Commission approved the proposal last month. Alder John Strasser wrote the measure. He says pit bulls are overpopulating the local animal shelters, so the ordinance is designed to cut back on the dog's population in the area.

DCHS disagree, saying the proposal is not the solution to reducing the population at the shelter. The humane society says research shows mandatory sterilization actually leads to an increase in euthanasia and animal intake at local shelters. DCHS says they also have concerns that it's a breed specific ordinance.

"DCHS currently offers reduced spay/neuter surgeries every week for pit bull terriers (no proof of financial need necessary), a 'Positively Pitties' training class and a Community Dog Day Program that focuses on sharing available low cost spay/neuter options and providing assistance to specific communities where DCHS sees a high intake of stray animals, especially pit bull terriers," Gayle Viney, DCHS Public Relations Coordinator, said.
DCHS recommends resources should be targeted to provide low-cost and no-cost spay or neutering options.
"Educating ALL dog owners on responsible ownership practices and offering incentives like low-cost and no-cost spay/neuter options to dog owners are better, more effective solutions than an ordinance that simply sounds like it's making a positive difference, but in reality, creates more problems and is very tricky to enforce," Viney said.
The Madison Common Council will vote on the proposed ordinance during its March 18 meeting.

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