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Yesterday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a breed-specific ordinance that will require “pit bull” owners in the city and county to spay or neuter their dogs unless they obtain a $100 breeding permit. The legislation defines “pit bulls” as American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and any dog displaying the physical traits of these breeds. Fines for failing to comply range from $100 to $1000 and can, on the second offense, include six months in county jail. The ordinance was passed despite strong opposition from AKC, other animal interest groups, and responsible dog owners.

In the past it would have been illegal for a California municipality to enact any type of breed-specific legislation. That all changed last month with the passage of SB861, a law which allows local governments to pass breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter as long as no breed of dog is determined to be dangerous or vicious. AKC and purebred dog owners opposed that measure as well, believing stronger enforcement of California's existing dangerous dog law would better protect communities.

San Francisco's new legislation does provide for limited exceptions, allowing owners who own “show dogs” or who are preparing to breed to apply for a breeding permit. Owners must prove that the dogs are registered with the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association, and that their dog conforms to the breed standard of the registering organization. Show dog owners must prove that the dog competed in at least one approved dog show in the last 365 days or that they have submitted the paperwork to participate in an approved dog show.

San Francisco's ordinance will take effect January 5, 2006.

Yesterday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a breed-specific ordinance…