Monday, September 27, 2010

Ypsilanti Twp. considering pit bull spay/neuter law

So often, local governments faced with a dog problem turn directly to breed bans to solve it.

I don’t and never will support breed bans. A moronic and irresponsible owner can turn any dog into a dangerous one, so my position is that breed bans are shortsighted and don’t do enough to protect people from all dangerous dogs, regardless of breed. Breed bans are ineffective at everything except discriminating against dogs and that’s all it really is — a type of discrimination that gives people a false sense of safety.

Ypsilanti Twp. appears to be thinking outside the box, however, and I fully support the ordinance they’re considering.

The ordinance would require all pit bulls to be spayed or neutered by Jan. 1, 2011. It would allow animal control officers to impound pit bulls who are not spayed or neutered and would be a criminal misdemeanor for the dog owner, punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and/or 90 days in jail.

Here’s what I like about it:
1) It is not a breed ban.
2) Neutering a dog gives it less reason to roam, as intact male dogs will often find a way out of their yards to pursue a mate.
3) Spaying and neutering dogs can also cut down on aggressive behaviors.
4) Spaying and neutering dogs cuts down their chances of getting certain types of cancers substantially.
5) It limits backyard-breeding. Backyard breeders are often people who care little about ensuring the parent dogs are of good breeding quality. A quality breeder will show you health tests proving their dogs don’t have health issues common for that breed. And with pit bulls, it’s incredibly important to get a puppy from a breeder who is specifically breeding for solid, friendly temperaments. Many backyard breeders are just looking to make a quick buck and with pit bulls especially, it can be a dangerous thing. Many backyard breeders of pit bulls are not very scrupulous folks and may even be breeding specifically for aggression and other unsavory characteristics, making things like the dog’s physique a higher priority than its temperament.

If there’s a pit bull breeder in the township who is producing champion show dogs, I’m sorry for their misfortune. And certainly, no breeders of champion pit bulls will be relocating to the township. But the fact of the matter is, there’s probably very few if any quality breeders like that in the township. So, this new ordinance will have little impact on serious breeders but will go a long ways towards stamping out backyard breeders — which I don’t think is a bad thing.

The Ypsilanti Courier published some evidence local officials are using to make their case for such an ordinance even stronger.

The township has a pit bull overpopulation problem and here are the numbers to prove it:
According to data provided by the Humane Society of Huron Valley, in 2009, 49.2 percent of all dog intakes in Ypsilanti Township were pit bulls. In 2009, the breed accounted for 50 percent of all euthanasia performed at the Humane Society of Huron Valley. For the top ten breeds taken in by the Human Society in Ypsilanti Township in 2009, 237 of the 432 were pit bulls.

(information from The Ypsilanti Courier)

The Courier is also reporting that the Humane Society of Huron Valley has a grant which will allow for free spaying and neutering of pit bulls in the township for at least the next year and a half.

This means the ordinance doesn’t have to create a financial hardship for anyone — even better.

Some residents are concerned the ordinance is a bit of a slippery slope, just one step away from a breed ban. But I don’t think that’s fair. I can’t think of one community that enacted a spay/neuter rule, period.

I can think of a lot of communities that went straight for breed bans, but none that considered a law like this.

I’ve weighed out the pros and cons of this and what’s the outcome? Five pros and just one con, which is the affect on quality breeders of champion show dogs — and like I said, there’s probably few if any of those folks in the township.

And last but not least, who really wants to defend the decision not to spay or neuter? Unless you are a quality breeder, there's no excuse. It is, in my opinion, an indefensible decision to not spay or neuter your dog.

I’ve got to give kudos to Ypsilanti Township for looking at a law that has so many positives for the pit bull community and so few negatives.

For those of you who disagree with my stance on this, here's an anti-BSL website to visit that is also writing about this ordinance being considered by Ypsilanti Township. I understand their points, but I'll maintain my position that this ordinance is a refreshing way to solve what statistics show is a pit bull overpopulation problem in that community.


  1. WOW - very well put and I agree totally! June (Oxford)

  2. Yes, well said Karen.

    Breed bans are not the answer and serve to punish responsible dog owners. The Ypsi plan is a reasonable and hopefully effective strategy for the problem of dog "attacks".