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Walking the dog without a leash? You could soon be fined $100 or more

L.A. police may soon be able to issue citations for 'quality of life' crimes, such as walking a dog off leash

If you walk your dog without a leash in Los Angeles, you could soon be slapped with a $100 fine -- or more if it happens again.

That's because the Los Angeles City Council adopted a new system Tuesday that allows police officers to issue citations for minor "quality of life" crimes that would typically be resolved with a warning.

A pilot program, called Administrative Citation Enforcement, gives the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Animal Services a new enforcement tool that bypasses the court system. It allows city officials to impose fines for offenses such as urinating in public, having dogs off leashes or dumping garbage in public streets. 

Currently, officers either can give a warning, or launch a criminal misdemeanor case against people who commit these crimes. Because officers are reluctant to initiate court cases for minor offenses, it's currently difficult to enforce these quality-of-life issues, said Councilman Paul Koretz.

"There is no good appropriate action with teeth," said Koretz, who proposed the concept for the program which was approved by the council last year. For instance, people can ignore repeated warnings about walking their dogs off leash, he said. 

"The city just needs a little clout," Koretz said. "This is one of the most frequent complaints we get: that the city doesn't enforce its regulation -- and it's true."

Under the program, most first offenses would be $250, the second $500 and the third $1,000. Fines for animal-related offenses begin at $100, then increase to $250 and then $500. In each incident, officers can still decide whether to issue a warning, a financial penalty or a criminal case.

Other violations include drinking in public, using fireworks and smoking in prohibited areas.

The program, which is expected to generate $1.59 million in net revenue annually, still requires final approval from Mayor Eric Garcetti before it can go into effect.

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