Sunday, June 02, 2013

Mischievous Animals

A quick and dirty flashback newsy item.

A fatal dog mauling in Los Angeles is getting press in Los Angeles because the owner of the dogs is getting charged with murder. This is big news. First, I need to say that it is tragic that the woman died before moving to the next part. The big news for me, though, is that LA is charging the dog owner: holding him responsible. Undoubtably the dogs will pay with their lives, but it sounds like the owner will suffer as well. For years in my past life as an animal control officer I pushed for the use of Penal Code 399, "Felony Mischievous Animal." This law says that if you have an animal and you know that it has "mischievous" tendencies, you better be responsible. If not, you can go to jail. It means that animal control (or the police) can put someone on notice so that the "I didn't know" excuse doesn't fly. It basically gives law enforcement a way to stop blaming the dogs for doing things that their human owners can prevent (like killing innocent people). While I was still an officer, we did actually charge someone with a felony using PC 399. The felony was reduced to a misdemeanor, but this is much better than "just" euthanizing the dog.  This I believe was the first time we had done this in my jurisdiction, maybe ever, but certainly in recent history.

I am REALLY impressed with LA for doing this, and further, for the Los Angeles Times for their reporting. Sure, the articles are titled "Pit bull killing" and "Pit bull owner charged..." but they discuss the importance of charging the owner and talk to reasonable, non-biased experts like the good people at the National Canine Research Center. Loving pit bulls doesn't mean that this kind of awful, tragic event doesn't happen. It means advocating for a fair, appropriate response, including what Los Angeles is doing and focusing on the right part of the story like the Los Angeles Times has done.


mamagotcha said...

Did you read that NYT article (and the comments) by a clueless and almost criminally negligent parent? ( It made me think of you, and I wondered what you thought.

It should be at least as hard to own a dog (or to have a baby, for that matter) than it is to get a car.