County Animal Control on the Hot Seat
Lancaster, CA - On October 14th, the Lancaster City Council and Mayor R. Rex Parris heard a status report from the head of Los Angeles County's Animal Control Department regarding the Pit Bull Sweep Operation. In the last 30 days, the agency responded to 257 pit bull-related calls and impounded 61 pit bulls that were roaming freely throughout the community.
Back in September, it was revealed that animal control officers reported seeing 24 pit bulls roaming city streets "but not one of them was picked up," Parris said. When asked why, county officials produced several false statements including: state law prohibits enforcing laws against one type of dog, such laws are "very problematic to enforce" and that laws must apply to all animals.
The mayor said, "Instead of picking (the dogs) up, people get warnings and citations, and when you hand out citations, people fix the problem (by paying a fine) and we still have the pit bull. The reality is, these dogs are different. They hurt people, and it's usually children." He added, "Gangbangers have taken these dogs and used them to intimidate each other and regular citizens."
California municipalities have the authority to enact breed-specific spay and neuter laws. Authorities cannot, however, deem a specific breed of dog to be "vicious," nor can they ban a specific breed.
Lancaster officials created a new ordinance that allows Animal Control officers to detain pit bulls if they are unaltered. But Parris noted, "What good does it do me to have an ordinance if Los Angeles County (employees) won't enforce it?" In response, District Supervisor directed county staff to implement a 60-day Pit Bull Sweep Operation to maximize dog control efforts in Lancaster.
Since their initial complaints to the county, Lancaster officials have had discussions with representatives of Palmdale about halting their payments to the county for animal control services and establishing their own care and control agency. Parris said he wants all vicious animals off the streets, "but this particular breed is more dangerous and is more vicious."
Several California cities have successfully passed pit bull sterilization laws.
09/14/08: Flashback: S.F. Pit Bull Sterilization Law Has Successful Results
08/19/08: Snip the Pit Ordinance in Manteca Being Considered