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What's Best -- Pistol or Pit Bull? 

SF Weekly's consumer guide to smooth and speedy acquisition of effective self-defense

Wednesday, Apr 9 1997
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San Francisco has become a city of waiting. For the Central Freeway to reopen. For Rob Morse to be interesting. For the big one to happen, already, and rid us of South Beach. But nothing can be as frustrating and frightening as having to wait for the personal security aids you need and deserve.

To help you acquire the proper mix of security paraphernalia for these troubled times, SF Weekly has plumbed the depths of thick books with black covers, searched the library's old and new card catalogs, and interviewed as many as two or three college-educated people to answer a simple question that dogs San Francisco's fearful:

Which is easier, cheaper, and less time-consuming to acquire -- a pistol or a pit bull terrier?

The answer may surprise you. It will certainly ease your mind. JUMP
Pit Bull Terrior

Age: Prospective owner must be at least 18.

Identification: Owner must provide valid picture ID and verification of home address. Pit bull must have microchip ID implanted by San Francisco Department of Animal Care & Control. File photograph required of all pit bull breeds before new owner takes possession.

Aliases: When adopted through the SPCA, pit bull terriers are officially renamed St. Francis terriers.

Private-Sector Authorization: Landlord must approve. Veterinarian is interviewed to assess care and vaccination status of other pets in home. Emergency caretaker must be designated and confirmed.

Spay and Neutering Plan: Required.

Home Visit: At least one. Before approval of a pit bull adoption, an SPCA behaviorist must assess interaction between prospective adoptee and any children and/or other dogs living in home. Additional home inspections are made whenever they are deemed necessary.

Fencing: Complete fencing of yard required.

Personal Interview: At least one.

Training: Five-session basic pet obedience course required within six months of adoption. Cost: $40 to $60.

Background Investigation: Required. Includes three character references and two neighborhood references; local animal control agency incident report check; fingerprinting and criminal background check on owner.

Time: Five to 10 days, although an agreed-upon "cooling off" or waiting period may be imposed after approval, and prior to taking possession of the dog.

Cost: Through S.F./SPCA, $58.

Availability: At S.F./SPCA as of April 3 -- 10.

Pistol

Age: Prospective owner must be 21.

Identification: Buyer must have valid photo ID. Serial numbers engraved on guns by manufacturer.

Aliases: Gat, rod, Saturday Night Special.

Private-Sector Authorization: No authorization from landlord, no character or neighborhood references, and no emergency designee required.

Spay and Neutering Plan: No future plans need be disclosed.

Home Visit: No site visit, information about children/pets or home security measures required.

Fencing: None required.

Personal Interview: None required.

Training: Must pass written test; no class required.

Background Investigation: California Department of Justice background check. No fingerprinting required. State and federal ownership registration required.

Time: 10-day minimum waiting period.

Cost: $14 fee, plus price of pistol.

Availability: Essentially unlimited.

About The Author

Lisa Davis

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