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Placer SPCA offers spay, neuter vouchers for pitbulls

Responsible ownership key to good behavior, experts say
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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In an effort to encourage responsible pet parenting, a Placer animal shelter is offering free birth control. For the month of November, the Placer Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is offering free spay and neuter surgery vouchers for pitbull and pitbull mix pets. Leilani Vierra, CEO of Placer SPCA, said that the number of bully breed dogs in the Roseville shelter – and shelters nationwide – is “disproportionally higher” than other animals. The shelter asked for a grant to target pitbull and pitbull mix dogs as well as cats but said the grant comes at good time given a recent pitbull attack in Downtown Auburn. “With everyone talking about it in the Auburn community, we wanted to focus on responsible pet ownership,” Vierra said. “For us, as it relates to cats and dogs, that means spaying and neutering all animals.” In September, a 17-year-old Weimar teen was attacked and severely injured by four pitbulls in a parking lot off of Lincoln Way. The attack sparked a debate as to whether a dog’s breed or its owner is to blame for aggressive pet behavior. Vierra and Mike Winters, program manager of Placer County Animal Services, both said they believe pet behavior is based on the kind of care it receives from its owner. He pointed out that pitbulls have a history of being friendly to humans. “I think it’s the people that are essentially the problem,” Winters said. “The pitbull itself has a potential to perhaps be more aggressive toward other dogs in its history, but not toward human beings. “What you’re seeing now are bad characteristics being bred into them.” Vierra said that shelters everywhere are noticing a large amount of pitbull and pitbull mixes in their centers because of the popularity of the breed at this time. She said she’s noticed trends in dog popularity throughout the years. In the 1970s, cocker spaniels filled shelters and later on German shepherds and doberman pinschers were breeds produced in large numbers. While Vierra said the pitbull adoption numbers have not fluctuated too much over recent months, Winters said public perception can be swayed by stories or films. He said when movies like “101 Dalmatians” were in theaters, those kinds of dogs were adopted quickly. With news of the attacks in Downtown, Winters said sometimes it can make it difficult to adopt out well-behaved pitbulls and pitbull mixes. “We screen our animals on their individual behavior and not by breed,” Winters said. “We could have a very nice, very friendly pitbull (to adopt) but that becomes difficult when bite cases involving pitbulls are in the paper.” Vierra added that spaying and neutering a companion animal is only one element of pet ownership. She said pet owners should also immerse their pet in ongoing socialization, exercise, obedience training and microchipping. She added that pet owners should not let their dogs or cats roam free and should make sure they have regular veterinary care and vaccinations. What Vierra and Winters both said is important is for pet owners to thoroughly research the type of dog they want to adopt and consult a behavior specialist about the particular animal they’re interested in taking home. “We evaluate all animals’ behaviors before they are placed up for adoption,” Vierra said. “We want to make sure people are matched with an animal that meets their criteria.” Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Free spay and neuter The Placer Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is offering free spay and neuter surgery vouchers to pitbull and pitbull mix owners for the month of November. There are reduced-cost vouchers to spay and neuter cats and rabbits. For more information, call Placer SPCA at (916) 782-7722 ext. 201 or apply online at placerspca.org ----------