California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law Friday that allows cities to force the sterilization of potentially dangerous dog breeds such as pit bulls.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had asked for a new law to allow greater city control over the animals following a series of fatal incidents, including a pit bull mauling in June of a 12-year-old San Francisco boy.
“This bill will make our streets and homes safer from aggressive dogs produced by irresponsible breeders and provide help to cities and counties with animal shelters that are overpopulated with dog breeds that people are afraid to adopt,” said state Sen. Jackie Speier, the bill sponsor.
The measure repeals a previous law that prevented local governments from targeting specific breeds for mandatory sterilization.
In anticipation of the statewide law, a San Francisco city legislator has already proposed new local sterilization rules that could take effect next year.
The issue has generated thousands of angry communications from pit bull lovers, legislative aides say.
Pit bulls accounted for about a third of the more than 200 fatal dog attacks in the United States from 1979 to 1998, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.