CIVIC CENTER -- On the heels of a recent high-profile dog-mauling
trial in Los Angeles, city officials are looking into updating municipal
code to deal with vicious dogs in the city.
"We're still in the research mode, but it's certainly a possibility,"
Deputy City Atty. Jina Oh said of the proposal to deal with dogs that
attack humans and other animals.
Animal shelter officials said 20 to 35 reported dog-bite cases occur
in the city each year. Many of the cases end up in civil litigation,
Acting Burbank Animal Shelter Supt. Claudia Madrid said.
Changes in the municipal code could serve to levy more criminal
penalties against owners, she said.
Burbank dog owners can be cited for allowing an animal known to be
vicious to roam loose. The leash law requires dog owners to keep their
animals on a leash when on a street, in a park or other public space,
A fresh look at the codes was prompted by the recent dog-mauling trial
in which a San Francisco couple was convicted for murder and manslaughter
because their dog killed a neighbor.
"It was a wake-up call to all cities, that they should be putting more
emphasis on this issue," Burbank City Manager Bud Ovrom said. "Neighbors
tolerate it, and my perception is that it's never been treated as a
Ovrom said dog owners and their neighbors need to be better educated
on how to control dogs and what to do if a dog is too aggressive.
In a recent meeting, officials from the city, animal shelter and
Police Department discussed how to enhance response to vicious dogs. They
talked about additional training for animal control officers and better
documentation for dog bite incidents. A patrol officer now responds with
Animal Shelter officers to dog bite complaints, and detectives are
assigned for follow-up, Madrid said.
"In some cases, there are violations," Madrid said. "But in some
cases, it's making a mountain of a mole hill."