City gets grant to spay/neuter pit bulls

 American pit bull terrier. Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Wikipedia. 

No matter what the threat or merit of pit bulls, the law says they must be spayed or neutered.

And the city will use positive reinforcement – a kind of human Greenie treat – to make it happen.

It’s offering a sweet deal for owners of the dogs and of pit bull mixed breeds in two east side zip codes: free altering along with a free license and rabies shot.

The city council public safety committee on Wednesday approved taking a $100,000 grant from PetsSmart Charities to pay for it.

The grant goes to the full council for final approval today.

It will pay for the program in the 64130 and 64132 zip codes. About 1,400 of the city’s estimated 7,400 unaltered pit bulls or cross breeds live there, said Deletta Dean, deputy director of Neighborhood and Housing Services.

Bids will be taken for the work and vets and clinics will be reimbursed for the services. A list of places that will perform it is expected out by November.

It will be announced on press releases, the city web site, email blasts and more, she said. “We will scream it from the hilltops if we have to.”

Some providers will even come and pick the dog up, do the work and return it home, Dean said.

And although the law requires owners to have the dogs altered and licensed, no tickets will be issued.

The city law requiring them to be altered went into effect in 2006, officials said. It came out of concerns about overpopulation because of back-yard breeders, but it also followed high profile pit bull attacks in area cities.

How dangerous the dogs are is a matter of controversy, Wikipedia reports.

A review of medical literature found pit bulls or cross breeds responsible for 42-to-45 percent of dog attacks, with fatalities in those most often reported in children under age 10.

But another study found pit bull terriers to blame for only one of 28 fatal dog attacks in Canada from 1990 to 2007. It found sled dogs far more dangerous.

And don’t forget this section on notable pit bulls:

Pit Bull breeds have become famous for their roles as soldiers, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, actors, television personalities, seeing eye dogs, and celebrity pets.

Modernly significant pit bulls are: Weela, who helped save 32 people, 29 dogs, 3 horses, and 1 cat; Popsicle, a five-month-old puppy originally found nearly dead in a freezer, who grew to become one of the nation’s most important police dogs;Norton, who was placed in the Purina Animal Hall of Fame after he rescued his owner from a severe reaction to a spider bite; Titan, who rescued his owner’s wife, who would have died from an aneurysm, and D-Boy, who took three bullets to save his family from an intruder with a gun.

Dean said she takes no sides: “Our goal is to control overpopulation, not ban the breed.”

When work on the year-long grant is completed and more than 800 dogs altered, she said, the city will apply for another grant to spay and neuter pit bulls in other zip codes.

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