COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - A bill filed last week in the South Carolina Statehouse would require pit bull owners to register and microchip their dogs if they are not sterilized.
Pit bull owners whose dogs have not been sterilized and microchipped would be forced to register their dog for a fee of $500 under bill H.3709, sponsored by Lexington County Rep. Chip Huggins and filed on Jan. 22.
Failure to register a fertile pit bull would result in a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $1,000, up to a year in prison or both.
Pit bull owners whose dogs have been spayed or neutered would not be required to register.
The proposed law claims the pit bull dog is "the most desired breed for dogfighting and is dying at a higher rate in local animal shelters than any other breed in South Carolina." It also claims "fertile dogs are more likely to be territorial and therefore more likely to bite."
Most dog bite fatalities are committed by dogs that were not altered, it states.
The law would define a "pit bull," which has become an umbrella term for several specific breeds of dogs, as "a dog that is an American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, a dog displaying the physical traits of one or more of the above breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club for any of the above breeds."
The law would allow pet owners to keep, own or harbor a fertile pit bull under the following conditions:
- It is under eight weeks of age;
- A licensed veterinarian has examined the dog and signed a written certificate stating that sterilization would endanger the animal's health because of its age, infirmity, disability, or other medical issue. (The certificate would be valid for only one year.)
- The person has only kept, owned, or harbored the pit bull dog for less than thirty days.
- The person has submitted an application for registration in accordance with the provisions of the law.
- Determination of the breed is under appeal
- The pit bull dog is a show dog that was registered by the time the dog reached six months in age and participated in one nationally recognized show in the twelve months prior to the application for exemption. The person must submit a copy of the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club papers demonstrating the pedigree information and show dog registration and documentation showing proof of annual participation in a nationally recognized show to the governmental animal control agency.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.