After California's state law prohibiting Breed Specific Legislation from being enacted was changed, to allow for cities to create breed specific mandatory spay/neuter policies, San Francisco became the first city in the country to enact a breed-specific spay/neuter program, mandating that all "pit bulls" be spayed or neutered.
The ordinance went into affect February 1, 2006. So with 2 years under its belt, I thought I'd call the San Francisco Animal Control to see how the law was doing.
The San Francisco ordinance has gotten a lot of publicity. Last August, a story came out in the San Francisco Chronicle talking about how the sterilization law was a success -- noting that the city had impounded 21% fewer "pit bulls" and the number of 'pit bulls' euthanized had dropped 24%. It is also noted in this article that the law went into affect after 12 year old Nick Fabish was attacked and killed when he apparently tried to break up the two "family pit bulls" while they were mating in the house and he was home alone.
Also using only percentages, the city's animal control office also announced that total bites by "pit bulls" had gone down from being 32% of all bites to making up only 11% of all bites in the first half of the year...although noting that total dog bites had more than doubled in the first 6 months of last year but Carl Friedman advised that the other bites didn't pack the "punch" of pit bull bites and that most of the bites were believed to be minor.
So with all that in mind, I called and asked for the exact numbers myself to find out what is really going on in San Francisco with their law.
What I received back was exactly what I requested. No more. No less. So if you have more questions than this feel free to ask, but I may or may not be able to break down the data further. I also won't try to explain the percentages in the articles quoted above...for the life of me I have no idea where they came from based on the numbers I've gotten.
The numbers I've been given are from 7/01/04-1/31/06 -- the 19 months leading up to the February 1, 2006 start date for the ordinance. I also have the numbers from 2/1/06-8/15/07 -- so the 18 1/2 months following the passing of the ordinance. When it seems appropriate (when the numbers are big enough), I'm going to use the 1/2 month average for bites/euthanasias to project those last 15 days so we're comparing equal timelines. In these cases, I'll give my real number, but put the projected number in parenthesis).
Since my number one goal stated yesterday was protecting people from dogs, and because the ordinance was passed following a major 'pit bull' attack, I'll start with the dog bite numbers.
Bite numbers for the 19 months prior to the BSL/MSN:
Masiff-Type dogs: 151
(Mastiff Types, by SFAC's definition includes 'pit bulls', St. Bernards, Boxers, Bulldogs, Shar Pei, Rottweilers and Great Danes -- and all their mixes)
Pit bull types and their mixes: 120 (all included) in the 152 above
210 of the bites were listed as "unknown.
So "pit bulls" made up 20% of the total bites pre BSL/MSN. Mastiff types made up 25%.
In the 18 1/2 months following BSL/MSN (19 month projections in parenths):
Total bites: 657 (676)
Mastiff Type Bites: 151 (155)
"Pit Bulls and Mixes": 102 (105)
So in comparison:
"Pit Bulls" made up 16% of the total bites, Mastiff types made up 23%.
"Unknown bites" went up to 275.
So, after the ordinance:
Total bites went up 13.4%
"Mastiff-type" dog bites went up by a total of 4 bites.
"Pit bull" bites (a subset of the Mastiffs) went down by 15 bites.
Impounds and Euthanasia
The second reason people give for passing this type of ordinance is because they are trying to control their shelter killing -- of which 'pit bulls' make up a large percentage of. So the following are the impound and euthanasia numbers for the two time periods discussed:
19 Months pre-MSN
Impounds for all Dogs: 3,804
Impounds for 'pit bulls: 1,246
Total Dogs Killed (Euthanasia): 1,156
"Pit bulls" killed: 702
So 'pit bulls" made up 33% of all impounds and61% of all dogs killed in the 19 months prior to the ordinance. Euthanasia rate is 30% for all dogs, 56% for "pit bulls".
19 month post BSL/MSN
Impounds for all dogs: 3,720 (3,826)
Impounds for "pit bulls: 989 (1,017)
Total dogs killed: 995 (1,023)
Pit bulls killed: 576 (592)
So 'pit bulls" made up 27% of all impounds and 58% of all dogs killed post ordinance. Euth rate is 26% for all dogs, and 58% for "pit bulls".
In total, total dogs killed dropped 3%.
Total 'pit bull' type dogs killed dropped 16%
Total non-pit bull dogs killed decreased 1%.
Tomorrow. We'll look at Kansas City.