MANTECA -- Pit bull owners soon may have to sterilize their pets or face citations or even having their dogs destroyed.
The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance this week requiring owners to spay or neuter their bull terriers, American pit bull terriers and similar breeds.
The ordinance won't take effect until early October after the council approves it a second time at its Sept. 2 meeting, Police Chief Dave Bricker said Wednesday.
The city is adopting these measures to make the breed less aggressive after several attacks by pit bulls in early 2007: A 2-year-old girl was mauled by a family member's pit bull, a pit bull attacked and killed a greyhound as its owners walked it and a pit bull tried to smash through a home's front window to get to a dog.
"That's what prompted us to look at it," said Rex Osborn, a Manteca Police Department spokesman.
Ripon passed a similar ordinance in August 2006 after two pit bulls killed the family cat of then Vice Mayor Dan Prince.
Bricker said Manteca plans to put fliers in water bills mailed to residents. Dog owners also will receive information when the city sends them notices to renew their animals' licenses.
And when animal control or police officers respond to dog calls such as a barking canine, they will check to see whether pit bull owners are in compliance.
Bricker said first-time offenders can be issued a $100 ticket. Repeat offenders, he said, face a misdemeanor charge, a fine of as much as $500 and could have their dog destroyed.
He said he did not know how many pit bulls are in the city. The ordinance provides for exceptions, such as if the pit bull is a show dog or breeder.
Linda Johnston, Ripon's community services officer who oversees the city's animal services division, said her city's spay-and-neuter ordinance probably has helped.
"I don't have the statistics but ... I'd say probably" it has made a difference, she said.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.