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County ordinance to give animal control better handle

Supervisors OK law meant to speed up process

Posted: July 28, 2011 11:00 a.m.
Updated: July 28, 2011 11:00 a.m.
 

County supervisors have unanimously approved an ordinance allowing animal-control officers greater latitude when it comes to determining whether a dog is vicious and whether it should be euthanized.

“There’s so much misunderstanding about this ruling,” Director of Animal Care and Control Marcia Mayeda said
Wednesday. She wants to assure dog owners that no dog will be put down due to any sort of rush to judgement.

She said any decision made at an administrative hearing about a dog’s fate can still be appealed under the new rules.

“It’s not going to be a case of: ‘I see your dog bit someone; I’m going to have it put to sleep,’” Mayeda said Wednesday.

“Dog owners do have an opportunity to appeal any decision to Superior Court.”

Until now, a vicious dog case would have to be heard in Superior Court, often in lengthy cases.

Under the decision made by supervisors Tuesday, the debate over vicious dogs will take place in an administrative hearing.

“It means that now we can schedule cases faster, and in a less intimidating forum,” Mayeda said.

That particular aspect of the new dog law comes as welcome news to some local dog owners.

“Animals that are considered a threat to public safety a lot of times end up sitting in shelters for months because the court case is going on and they are considered evidence,” said local dog owner Hsiawen Hull.

“Another one of the reasons I like this ruling,” he said, “is that the people who are going make decisions about the dogs are people more hands-on, as opposed to judges who may not even own a dog.”

The ruling also allows counties to share information about vicious dogs.

“We recently had a case of two pit bulls wreaking havoc, killing pets, and when we had them declared dangerous the owner moved out of our county,” Mayeda said. “The dogs attacked and killed more pets” in another county, she said.

“At the time, we were not allowed to share information,” Mayeda said.
Ultimately, she added, the dogs in that particular case were surrendered by the owner and euthanized.
jholt@the-signal.com

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