Free pit bull sterilization program may be extended
The program was funded through a $72,000 grant provided by PetSmart Charities.
Jenny Paillon, HSHV's director of operations, said the agency is working to wrap up the report from the past grant and apply for a new grant. The program has been a success in Ypsilanti Township, where there is a need for free sterilizations and a large pit bull population, she said.
“A major roadblock for many people in considering spay/neuter surgeries is the out of pocket cost. If you have a practical choice of making a spay/neuter appointment or taking care of your electric bill, one of those two will obviously fall off the priority list,” Paillon said.
In 2009, 237 pit bulls from Ypsilanti Township were brought into the Humane Society. That number dropped to 135 in 2012 after the law took effect.
The number of dogs euthanized during that time frame also decreased from 139 to 58.
Since the ordinance was passed, the HSHV has seen a decline in euthanasia; fewer stray and surrendered pit bulls at the HSHV shelter; and higher adoptions numbers.
“The lowered intake numbers and our increasing rates of adoption are the metrics we set out to measure, and are both moving in the right direction,” Paillon said.
She also called the belief that the surgery will change a dog’s personality a myth.
“The surgery is safe, will not negatively impact a dog’s temperament and will help prevent them from running loose or scrapping with other dogs while attempting to find a mate,” Paillon said.
“Unsterilized animals are at a higher rate of having negative behavior issues, such as marking and running stray, as well as face higher risks of cancer as they age.”
Ypsilanti Township's ordinance requires sterilizations for Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers or any mixed breed exhibiting five out of eight physical characteristics outlined within the ordinance.
There was a two-year sunset clause built into the ordinance and the Board of Trustees made the law permanent in October 2012.
The number of pit bulls brought into the HSHV, either for running loose, being involved in dog fights or just to be euthanized, prompted the ordinance.
Residents who violate the law face criminal misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.