Pasadena, CA, Drafts Mandatory Spay/Neuter Ordinance for Pit Bulls, Is It Racial Profiling?

| by Denise A Justin

The editor of, in a November 29 post, questions whether the reason Pasadena and other cities pass mandatory spay/neuter laws for pit bulls is in order to target the owners, or—more specifically—to racially profile owners of the breed.

He writes, “On Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, the Pasadena City Council voted 6-1 in favor of drafting breed-specific legislation (BSL) that would mandate the spaying/neutering of all pit bulls within the city, and certain animal advocates felt that they were, in fact, targeting “so-called pit bulls” and their owners.”

The lone ‘no’ vote, is ascribed to Vice Mayor Jacque Robinson, one of two African-Americans on the council. The writer asks, “I wonder if she knows, like many in the dog lobby who’ve been fighting BSL for a long time, that breed-specific legislation has a long history of being racist legislation. And yes, even breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter legislation doesn’t just target pit bulls, but often their minority owners, typically African-Americans and Latinos.”

Nearby Riverside County has a similar racial make-up to Pasadena, he explains--approximately 10% African-American, and 33% Latino--causing the blogger to speculate that, “maybe these MSN ordinances have less to do with pit bulls, and more to do with their minority owners.”

“The dog lobby sees this frequently,” he writes, “A city has an uptick in crime and…instead of profiling a minority group who is perceived as being responsible for the crime surge…they just pass some pretense legislation, like a breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter law, and use it to profile the dogs’ minority owners.”

In order to explain how this works, a 2008 incident is cited, when “Chicago tried something similar.” The Chicago City Council was likewise considering a breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter law for pit bulls, and Alderman Ed Burke advertised the breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter law this way:

When you drive down the street and see a gang banger with all kinds of gang regalia walking along with two or three pit bulls, it’s pretty simple for the policeman to raise the dog’s tail and see whether or not it’s spayed or neutered. If it’s not, the gang member is in violation,” Burke said, noting that street gangs operate dog-fighting rings (Chicago Sun-Times).

“Yes, Chicago certainly did and does need to crack down on gang violence…And since “authorities” have long maintained that so-called pit bulls were for the most-part owned by thugs, drug dealers, and gang bangers, and “those people” in “those neighborhoods,” it was perfectly clear just exactly who the targets of the breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter ordinance would be,” writes the editor.

He continues, “the city of Riverside is 49% Latino and 7% African-American. The County of Riverside is comparable to Riverside in demographics…Redlands is approximately 5% African-American and 30% Latino.” And asks, “ Do these cities really want to tell their constituents there’s no racial component in these breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter laws?”

“So yes, it looks like pit bull advocates in Pasadena were half right. Pasadena is profiling pit bulls, and possibly retributively, but I would submit to these advocates that Pasadena is also profiling minorities,” the editor concludes.

This provides interesting insight, but does it make sense that cities would go to the extensive and expensive lengths of spaying and neutering Pit Bulls just to target the race of their owners? And, since spay/neuter tends to encourage better behavior and less aggression in the dog, is that a bad thing—regardless of the race of the owner?

Source: No Pit Bull Ban