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Debate on dog regulations

Auburn residents have mixed feelings about possible regulations considered by City Council
By: Bridget Jones Journal staff writer
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New regulations on Auburn’s dogs are still up for debate. Possible city code changes calling for the mandatory spaying and neutering of pitbulls as well as limiting the number of any breed of dog in a household were discussed at Auburn’s City Council meeting Monday. The regulations were presented to the council in a first reading only; no final decisions were made. The possible code change will come back to City Council June 14 for a second reading. The breed-specific part of the regulations would require the spay and neuter of pitbulls, except for show dogs, dogs younger than 6 months old, dogs living in Auburn for less than a month, dogs with a current breeding permit and dogs who might be harmed or killed by being spayed or neutered, according to city documents. The definition of pitbulls would include bull terriers, miniature bull terriers, American pitbull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and any other dog displaying physical traits of a pitbull breed, according to city documents. Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby said he doesn’t want to support regulations against pitbulls, only regulations against owners who purposefully raise any breed of vicious dogs. “I will not vote for breed-specific legislation,” Kirby said. “I don’t see the purpose of putting limits on people who obey the law. I want severe penalties for people who break the law. Government should not be putting limitations on responsible people as a way to get at irresponsible people.” The possible regulations also state that minors and those convicted of violent or drug-related crimes may not own a dog classified as potentially dangerous or dangerous. Auburn resident Frank Ford said he supports the proposed pitbull regulations. “The (proposed) ordinance … is good,” Ford said. “The current strategy of doing nothing is not working. We need a better protection from these types of dogs. I’ve actually watched a pitbull attack a child once; it’s not fun.” The proposed regulations would also enforce no more than two dogs of any breed living in a household in Auburn. Kirby said City Council members requested a change Monday in the proposed regulations for the number of dogs to mimic Placer County’s rules, which allow for different numbers of dogs depending on property sizes. “We said we don’t want the two-dog limit,” Kirby said. “The county has four dogs for a single family. It could be more dogs if we have acreage. That’s kind of what we’re looking at.” Councilman Keith Nesbitt said he would also like wording added to the regulations allowing those who rescue and foster animals permission to have more dogs in their homes. Auburn resident Shawn McCall said he would never want to have more than four dogs in his home, but he doesn’t think the city should be able to make that call. “I’m OK with four (dogs being allowed in the home),” McCall said. “I can’t imagine having more than two dogs. It seems like government as a whole tends to keep trying to restrict people’s freedoms.” McCall said although he doesn’t like pitbulls, he doesn’t think there should be breed-specific regulations imposed on them. “I think it’s the person who generates what kind of dog you have,” he said. “The only mean pitbulls I’ve seen, I don’t think the owners treated their dogs with any kindness.” Bradford Kellogg, a Foresthill resident and pitbull owner, said pitbulls are always misrepresented in the media. “It’s sad people want to pick on pitbulls,” Kellogg said. “The one or two stories you hear every year are bad.” Auburn Mayor Bridget Powers said she is undecided about possible pitbull regulations. “You have public safety as a big issue,” Powers said. “I get that it’s not fair for those of you who take good care of your animals … but how do we protect our community? I’m on the fence about it at the moment.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com