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Staff photo by Jessica Cejnar
J.J. Ramsey, an employee at the Barstow Humane Society, Wednesday plays with King, a pit bull that's waiting to be adopted.

Barstow may consider mandatory spay, neuter law

City prosecutor reviewing new vicious dog law

BARSTOW • The consultant working with Barstow to update its vicious dog ordinance recommends that the city consider a mandatory spay and neuter law.

But whether that law would require all dog owners to fix their animals or only to pit bull owners is up to city officials, he says. San Bernardino County began enforcing a pit bull spay and neuter law Friday, and other cities such as Yucaipa have passed similar laws.

A draft of the updated vicious dog ordinance is currently being reviewed by Norma Copado, the city’s prosecutor. Steve Fries, whose contract with the city ends later this month, and city staff finished a draft of the updated vicious dog ordinance in May and submitted it to City Attorney Yvette Abich-Garcia.

Requiring pet owners fix their animals would keep dogs from roaming the streets, forming packs and attacking people, he said.

“By spaying and neutering animals, there aren’t animals out there roaming free and indescriminantly breeding,” he said. “Over time what you’ll see is less animals coming into (the animal shelter).”

The city began examining its vicious dog ordinance in October, seeking to hold owners accountable if they allow their dogs to run loose and if their dog attacks someone. The ordinance hasn’t been updated since it was established in 1967.

Under state law, the city can’t establish a law that targets specific breed except when it comes to population control. Cities and counties can establish mandatory spay and neuter laws, but they have to provide the state with statistical information on dog bites, including how serious the bite was, the breed of dog involved and whether the dog was fixed.

San Bernardino County passed its mandatory spay and neuter ordinance for pit bulls July 13. A State Senate bill, The Pet Responsibility Act, which would require all dogs be altered, is also making its way through the legislature. If passed, the state’s spay and neuter requirement would extend to cats that are allowed outside.

Former Barstow resident J.J. Ramsey, an employee at the Barstow Humane Society, had a pit bull, Marley, for about five years until she was forced to put her down. Marley had got out of her yard and was present when another dog attacked a neighbor’s cow. But Marley didn’t participate in the attack, Ramsey said.

“Marley always really protected my 10-month-old daughter,” she said. “When she cried (Marley) would get up and see what was wrong.”

Ramsey supports a mandatory spay and neuter law, but pit bulls shouldn’t be singled out. The law also shouldn’t apply to licensed responsible breeders, she said.

“I don’t think all pit bulls should be considered vicious,” she said. “It’s the owners who treat them like that.”

Fries has also been revising the city’s contract with the Barstow Humane Society, determining where upgrades at the shelter are necessary and drafting standard operating procedure manual.

Contact the writer:

(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com


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