DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. - The approaching mandatory spay/neuter law for pit bull owners who lives in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County has some concerned about its consequences. The ordinance, which passed last Tuesday, requires pit bulls or pit bull mixes over the four months old in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County to get sterilized. Some dog owners fear the cost of sterilization could cause the ordinance to backfire. "When you're talking about a 52-pound dog, it can be very expensive," said Cathy Borrego from the groups "Best Friends Forever 4 Pets" and "Pretty Good Cat."
While it varies by weight and by the veterinarian, sterilization typically costs $100 and up. Borrego's group rescues and finds homes for abandoned pets like Big Red, a pit bull she found in the desert. He had a sunburn and marks from getting attacked by a coyote. Borrego fears the new county ordinance could cost some owners more than they can handle. "I think we may see more dogs dumped as a result of it, because they cannot pay for the spay or neuter," said Borrego. "They probably can't afford the relinquishment fee if they need to turn in the animal."
The ordinance is meant to get pit bulls off the streets and control the population. Some are saying the county is not doing enough to provide solutions for owners. "To not have free spay or neuter behind it for these people that can't afford it is going to be monumental for these poor animals," said Tina Miller. "They're just going to end up in shelters."
To help pit bull owners, Animal Samaritans is temporarily reducing its spay/neuter fees for pit bulls and pit bull mixes to just $55. Animal Samaritans' standard spay/neuter fees for dogs are: $95 for dogs weighing less than fifty pounds, $105 for dogs weighing between fifty and one hundred pounds, and $135 for dogs weighing more than one hundred pounds. Adult pit bulls can weigh anywhere between fifty and one hundred fifty pounds. "People that don't get it done, most of the time the reason is the cost," said Dr. Robert Mills from Animal Samaritans.
Borrego wants the county to back the new ordinance with funding to hold more low-cost or free sterilization clinics. While she pleads her case, she's looking for a home for Big Red and hopes there won't be more like him. "I don't want to have to rescue the next little puppy, the next dog dumped in the desert," said Borrego. "Put me out of business."
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