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Animal Advocates: Washington County Shelter Discriminates Against Pit Bulls

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Animal activists in Bartlesville said the city is discriminating against pit bulls and they want something done. Animal activists in Bartlesville said the city is discriminating against pit bulls and they want something done.
Although it's against state law to discriminate against certain breeds, WC-SPCA said that doesn't apply to them because they are a non-profit organization. Although it's against state law to discriminate against certain breeds, WC-SPCA said that doesn't apply to them because they are a non-profit organization.
Animal advocate Anita Stepp. Animal advocate Anita Stepp.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Oklahoma -

Animal activists in Bartlesville said the city is discriminating against pit bulls and they want something done.

Even though the city doesn't have an ordinance banning the adoption of pit bulls, Washington County SPCA, the shelter the city contracts with, does.

No decision was made at Monday's city council meeting, but pit bull supporters said it is discrimination and is against state law.

Although the gates were locked at the Washington County SPCA Monday, the Tulsa SPCA was open, and pit bulls ran around, played with toys and hoped to get the attention of a new family.

Animal advocate Anita Stepp said if their pit bulls were in Washington County's shelter they wouldn't be allowed to stay because that shelter doesn't allow pit bulls to be adopted.

“There's no reason not to; there's a lot of animals that are adoptable just like any other breed," Stepp said.

Bartlesville doesn't have a separate city run shelter; instead all animals are brought to this facility, which doubles as the city pound and Washington County's SPCA shelter.

Although the city doesn't have an ordinance prohibiting the adoption of pit bulls, Washington County SPCA does. After four days of being taken in they are turned over to the WC-SPCA's control.

"I don't think a city can avoid the law by just contracting out the services,” Stepp said.

Erika Fultz with the WC-SPCA said they do the best they can to find a good home to any pit bull that passes a behavior test.

"We cannot house a pit bull in our facility but we can contract out through ARF and foster through ARF," Fultz said.

There were about a dozen representatives from the WC-SPCA at the meeting Monday, and even more from the Oklahoma Animal Alliance.

A spokesperson from the WC-SPCA said housing pit bulls is a liability and raises insurance rates.

Although it's against state law to discriminate against certain breeds, WC-SPCA said that doesn't apply to them because they are a non-profit organization.

City officials said, whether pit bulls are allowed to be adopted is ultimately up to the Washington County SPCA.

Stepp said the bottom line is the council needs to put pressure on WC-SPCA to change their policy if they continue to contract out with the organization.

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