South Carolina

Will SC pit bull owners have to pay $500 fee? Lawmaker wants to stop ‘overpopulation’

Pit bull owners in South Carolina who don’t spay or neuter their dogs could be forced to pay a $500 fee, and face a misdemeanor if they don’t, according to a new bill filed in the state House of Representatives.

According to the proposal, sponsored by Rep. Chip Huggins, “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 of dog in South Carolina.”

“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,” Huggins, a Lexington County Republican, argues in the text of the bill.

The bill would require pit bull owners to sterilize and microchip their dogs or pay a $500 fee. If an owner does not register a pit bull and pay the fee, they could be charged with a misdemeanor, fined at least $1,000 and jailed for up to a year.

There are a couple exemptions to the law: pit bulls do not have to be sterilized if they are under eight weeks old, spaying or neutering could hurt the dog’s health, or the pit bull is a show dog that has competed in a nationally recognized dog show in the past 12 months.

The bill defines pit bulls as “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 money from any fines collected for unregistered fertile pit bull would go to subsidizing spay and neuter programs for pit bulls.

The bill, filed Jan. 22, has been moved to a state House committee for debate.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.