You may be asking yourself ‘what’s the problem?’ After all, we all generally agree that we would like to see a dramatic decrease in pit bull breeding and an end to casual backyard breeding. Beyond the fact that we know voluntary S/N programs work best, and BSL comes with horrible unintended consequences like difficulty finding a rental that will accept your dog, San Francisco has enacted what politicians like city mayor Gavin Newsom rail against the state and federal governments for – an unfunded mandate. In this case the mandate is imposed by the city on the citizens.
While the rest of the Bay Area encourages and supports pit bull owners in their efforts to do the right thing and S/N their dogs through low cost and free services, San Francisco’s efforts are limited to fining those unable to afford to do the right thing. Take for example, a nurse I spoke with recently. A city employee and native, she’s spent her professional career devoted to treating incarcerated youth. A dog lover, she’s only owned rescued dogs and does not discriminate by breed. Are you getting the impression that she’s a good person and responsible citizen yet? A few weeks ago, by way of a friend of a friend, she came into possession of a young female pit bull puppy. When the San Francisco SPCA would not accept the dog, she stopped by SF ACC where she got the distinct impression the dog’s chances of survival were slim. Though she has 2 small dogs already, she decided to try to find the puppy a new home herself. Since then she’s been crate training, house training, exercising the energetic pup for hours every day and searching for a place to spay her. At about 6 months old, the dog is required to be spayed under SF’s ordinance. The unintended rescuer wants to comply, wants to be responsible and doesn’t want to pay a fine, but she cannot find an affordable spay clinic in San Francisco. The prices quoted for spay of a dog over 40 pounds range from $350 - $450; euthanasia is substantially cheaper. Local rescues can probably get a cheaper rate through their arrangement with vets based on their non-profit status, but because SF still has an overpopulation problem despite their BSL, San Francisco rescues report that there’s ‘no room at the Inn’.
One bright spot in the S/N situation in San Francisco is the FREE mobile S/N service offered twice a month by the Peninsula Humane Society. PHS provides the service that SF based organizations should be providing. Unfortunately, the need is far greater than the space available and from what I hear, people routinely line up at 5am for the first come, first served program and it still often takes several weeks before actually getting in for service – a burden, even a barrier, for residents with full time jobs and families.
The fate of this pup remains to be seen. If only the Good Samaritan lived in the East Bay, South Bay, on the Peninsula or even in Sacramento, she could easily do the right thing for the dog and the community. If only she had morning after morning to wait in line for weeks. Unfortunately she lives in San Francisco, works a full time job with a shift that ends at 8am, and as a result, may be unable to save this dog from euthanasia after all. If the purpose of San Francisco’s BSL S/N ordinance is to decrease the city’s pit bull population, in this case, I guess maybe it worked.