Thursday, July 23, 2009

What it takes to be a dangerous dog in Los Angeles

There's an interesting case of a dangerous dog down in Los Angeles that some of us are familiar with here in Halifax because of his owner - his name is Stu. He maybe was killed today - I don't know, I haven't heard, but in reading through documents it's interesting how Los Angeles defines a dangerous dog.

"The Los Angeles Municipal Code Establishes a Procedure for Determining Whether a Dog is Dangerous"

A dog owner must “have an opportunity to be heard prior to the destruction of his dog unless there is need for prompt government action.”

Section 53.34.4 defines and establishes criteria for determining whether a dog is a dangerous animal. “The Department [of Animal Services], after a hearing, may declare any dog or other animal to be a dangerous animal whenever it has bitten, attacked or caused injury to any human being or other animal.”

And here's the beginning of the good part - Eleven criteria “shall be considered” in making a determination whether a dog is dangerous:

“1. Any previous history of the dog or other animal attacking, biting or causing injury to a human being or other animal; 2. The nature and extent of injuries inflicted and the number of victims involved; 3. The place where the bite, attack or injury occurred; 4. The presence or absence of any provocation for the bite, attack or injury; 5. The extent to which property has been damaged or destroyed; 6. Whether the dog or other animal exhibits any characteristics of being trained for fighting or attack or other evidence to show such training or fighting; 7. Whether the dog or other animal exhibits characteristics of aggressive or unpredictable temperament or behavior in the presence of human beings or dogs or other animals; 8. Whether the dog or other animal can be effectively trained or retrained to change its temperament or behavior; 9. The manner in which the dog or other animal had been maintained by i[t]s owner or custodian; 10. Any other relevant evidence concerning the maintenance of the dog or other animal; 11. Any other relevant evidence regarding the ability of the owner or custodian, or the Department, to protect the public safety in the future if the dog or other animal is permitted to remain in the City.”

I really like the 2 sections I highlighted - because they deal with the OWNER - and they give an "out" to the animal control department when they feel that perhaps the animal is not to blame for the behaviour of the dog - but when it's the OWNER of the dog who's enabling that particular dog's behaviour - and that maybe that dog should NOT go back to that particular owner, but should not necessarily be killed because he is inherently dangerous.

The court in the case of Stu the dog down in Los Angeles decided that this dog was dangerous because "it is unlikely that (the) petitioner can or will prevent such an incident from occurring in the future, and that innocent people are therefore likely to be injured if the dog is not destroyed. The weight of the evidence produced at the administrative hearing supports such findings".

You'll find that quote on page 8 of a court document that Stu's owner has published - it's great reading.

I think that is pretty neat - and it is unfortunate that for the last 4 years - Stu's owner has been trying to bury that fact and say that it's the City of Los Angeles's fault, the Manager of Animal Control's fault - and anyone else that he can think of - for the reason why his dog has remained incarcerated.'

But the court documents lay the blame straight on the dog owner - they don't even blame the dog Stu - they blame the dog owner - so the City CAN get away with saying that the dog himself isn't dangerous - it IS the dog owner who's the asshole, the person at fault - and they've written their bylaws in such a way that they can do that.

I think that is awesome. We should do that with our bylaws too - we'd be able to free up some cage space I'd say. And save some dogs some some long time incarcerations.

I could write a ton more about this, but who has the energy to beat their head against a wall. I know I don't.


  1. Joan,

    Love those points and wish we could get those incorporated in our by-laws!!

    Thanks for bringing them to light to me!

  2. Anonymous2:52 PM

  3. Jeff de la Rosa8:57 AM

    Taking a trip. You might want to remove your inaccurate posts. Turns out I can make a complaint in your courts ...even as an American.