Program pays for neutering of local pit bulls
By Kimberly Matas
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.13.2006
Pit bull owners will get paid Friday to spay and neuter their dogs as part of a new program from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
The goal of the "Payday for Pit Bulls" program is to reduce the number of unwanted and homeless pit bulls and pit mixes that die on the streets or in shelters, said Humane Society spokeswoman Jill Wohlfeil.
The shelter is offering six spay and neuter days in April, May and June when up to 24 pit bulls and pit mixes at a time can be sterilized for free. The dogs will receive vaccinations, microchip identification, food, toys and collars and the Humane Society will pay owners $20 when they pick up their dogs. The total value is between $128 and $158, depending on the size of the dog. The clinics are being paid for through an anonymous donation to the Humane Society.
The Humane Society took in nearly 1,000 pit bulls and mixes last year, but only 251 were returned to their owners or adopted. The shelter adopts out pit bulls of any age provided they are healthy and friendly, Wohlfeil said.
Pima Animal Care Center adopts out only pit bulls that are 4 months old or younger, said Enforcement Operations Supervisor Mark Soto.
"Pit bulls have a potential to be very animal-aggressive and at times people-aggressive and at a young age, if they're socialized, they have a tendency of being wonderful pets."
Pima Animal Care does not keep breed-specific records on the number of dogs in its facility, said spokeswoman Jody Burns, but Soto estimates officers pick up between two and six pit bulls a day that they find running loose on the streets. That's 700 to 2,220 a year.
"It's on the rise," Burns said. "We're definitely handling more now than we did three years ago, but the reason? I haven't a clue."
Justin Gallick works for the Humane Society but also runs a Tucson-based dog rescue called Adopt-A-Bull (http://www.adopt-a-bull.com
), which specializes in bully breeds.
"There's really no other breed you're going to find that has that many puppies in shelters," Gallick said. "It says a lot about the need for spay and neuter of this breed."
Pit bull owners can take advantage of the Humane Society's program on a first-come, first-served basis. To make it easier for owners to have their dogs sterilized, the shelter will have drop-off and pickup points in the community so owners don't have to drive to the shelter's spay-neuter clinic at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd., near Fort Lowell and Country Club roads.
The first two drop-off points will be in the office parking lot of Vice Mayor Steve Leal, the Tucson city councilman for Ward 5 on the South Side.
"I've worked with them (the Humane Society) over the years on a variety of projects and they've always taken it upon themselves to serve the needs of the whole community," Leal said.
In May the shelter will have two other drop-off points on Tucson's South Side and in June they will be in Marana. "We're targeting specific areas of Tucson where we know there tend to be more lower socioeconomic people who might be in need of spay and neuter services," Wohlfeil said.
Because it's the first time the shelter is trying a pay-to-spay program, Wohlfeil said it's difficult to gauge owner interest.
"We might have two people show up or we might have 100. It's really hard to say. If we have 100 people show up, we'll take the first 24, then try to work in the others at the April 28 date and at our spay-and-neuter clinic if there's funding available in the future."
Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at 807-8431 or at firstname.lastname@example.org