The Long Beach City Council, in response to recent vicious dog attacks in the city, has approved the creation of a new dangerous dog ordinance that would include stiffer penalties for dog owners, mandatory education on responsible pet ownership for owners who violate the law and implanting microchips on impounded dogs.
According to a news article in the Long Beach Press-Telegram, council members emphasized that they want to focus on how to better educate dog owners and make them responsible for pets that are under their care. Under the new ordinance, which is supposed to be an improvement on existing dangerous dog laws, the city will also impose tougher leash laws penalizing owners of animals that leave their property and encroach on neighboring yards.
The new law will also allow the city to impose fines or level criminal charges against owners of dogs that have attempted to bite, attack or threaten a human or another animal. The law will require owners facing criminal charges to take mandatory dog ownership responsibility classes.
The City Council primarily responded to two incidents in Long Beach. In November, two pit-bulls fatally mauled a family’s greyhound. Police had to shoot and kill those pit-bulls. Then in January, two other pit-bulls killed a woman’s Chihuahua at the dog beach in Belmont Shore. The articles cites a city report which shows that there were 343 dog bites reported in Long Beach alone – 77 of those involving pit-bulls. The city did not enact a breed ban because state law prevents it. Long Beach is also notorious for leading the nation in dog attacks on mail carriers, according to the United States Postal Service’s Web site.
The city should be lauded for its prompt action in passing this important ordinance. It was not only the right thing to do, but something that had to be done in the interest of public safety. The council acted quickly before someone got killed or badly injured by one of these dangerous and vicious dogs. So far, the fatalities involved only animals, which is still extremely traumatic for those who lost their pets.
As personal injury attorneys, we have represented numerous victims of dog bites and attacks. We’ve seen first hand the damage and fear these dog attacks cause. The damage caused is not only physical, but also psychological and emotional. More municipalities should follow the example of Long Beach and start enacting these tougher laws so that dog owners may be educated about responsible ownership and realize that there is a high price to pay for any form of negligence.