Madison, WI to Vote on Breed-Specific Mandatory/Spay Neuter on March 18

The Madison (WI) Common Council is expected to vote on a proposed ordinance on Tuesday, March 18,...

The Madison (WI) Common Council is expected to vote on a proposed ordinance on Tuesday, March 18, that requires all “pit bulls” in the city to be spayed or neutered, with few exceptions. 

This proposal has been considered by two committees, one of which supported the proposal and the other opposed it on a tie vote.  It is clear that the city lawmakers are divided on this issue.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly opposes both breed-specific and mandatory spay/neuter laws. 


Those who reside in Madison or participate in dog events in the area are strongly encouraged to contact the council in opposition to this proposal.    Click here to complete an online contact form that is sent to the full Common Council.  If you wish to contact the council members individually, click here

Interested residents may also attend the meeting to express concerns in person:
City of Madison Common Council meeting
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
6:30 pm
210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Room 201
Madison, Wisconsin


The proposed ordinance was brought forward as a supposed solution for an overpopulation of “pit bulls” in the local shelter.  The ordinance claims that more than 50 percent of the dogs in the local shelter are “pit bulls”, and that these dogs comprise 48 percent of abandoned dogs, 12 percent of dog bites, and 38 percent of dog-on- dog attacks.  The ordinance also claims that sterilized dogs are less likely to be aggressive or run at large.  As a result, the city council believes that a mandatory spay/neuter law for these dogs is the best solution.

The ordinance defines a “pit bull” as an American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any mixed breed displaying similar physical characteristics.  The Public Health Department of Madison and Dane County are permitted to inspect any dog to determine if it meets this definition. 

All dogs over 5 months of age determined to be a “pit bull” must be sterilized.  Exceptions include:

  • Dogs not healthy enough for the procedure (although this must also include documentation from the veterinarian verifying the dog is not healthy enough and stating when the dog will be able to be spayed or neutered). 

  • “Show dogs”, provided the owner submits documentation with pedigree information and verification that the dog has participated in at least one AKC, UKC, or ADBA conformation event in the past 365 days.  This must continue for the life of the dog for this exemption to continue to apply.

  • Working or retired police dogs and nationally certified search and rescue dogs.

  • Dogs in rescues for under 30 days.


Owners would be permitted to keep an unsterilized “pit bull” if they obtain a “pit bull breeder registration”.  To obtain this license, the dog must be registered with AKC, UKC or ADBA and meet the breed standard as set out by the registry.  The dog must participate in one conformation event every 365 days and no female may produce more than one litter a year.

Additionally, the owner must allow their “breeding facility” to be open for inspection.  It is unclear what this would entail or what would be inspected, specifically if someone owns an intact dog but is not breeding.


Talking Points:

The AKC opposes this ordinance, which would discriminate against responsible dog owners simply for the breed (or appearance) of the dog they choose to own.  It further makes the false assumption that sterilizing dogs is the best and most effective solution.  The AKC is asking the council to address the true issue of irresponsible ownership, rather than laws targeting responsible dog owners who already comply with local animal control laws.

Visit the AKC Government Relations Toolbox for talking points, position statements, and sample letters on breed-specific legislation and mandatory spay/neuter policies.

For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720, or