Council OKs new dog law

City officials will ask a judge today, Friday, May 5, to have two American bull terriers destroyed following a recent attack on a Huntington Beach man and his Jack Russell terrier in Avalon, according to City Attorney Scott Campbell. The dogs are on the mainland now while everyone involved is awaiting a judge’s decision. The owner of the two dogs has reportedly agreed to allow the dogs to be euthanized.

City Manager David Jinkens said he would attend the hearing.

City officials will ask a judge today, Friday, May 5, to have two American bull terriers destroyed following a recent attack on a Huntington Beach man and his Jack Russell terrier in Avalon, according to City Attorney Scott Campbell. The dogs are on the mainland now while everyone involved is awaiting a judge’s decision. The owner of the two dogs has reportedly agreed to allow the dogs to be euthanized.

City Manager David Jinkens said he would attend the hearing.

In related news, the Avalon City Council this week approved new animal control laws that include restricting ownership of potentially dangerous dogs and allow local officials to seize and destroy them.

Until this week, the Avalon Municipal Code did not give the city authority to destroy an animal that injures another person.

The law also includes a breed-specific mandatory spay or neuter program for pit bulls.

Some Avalon residents, including a former City Council member, spoke in defense of “pit bulls” arguing that the responsibility for dangerous dogs lay with human beings.

The new ordinance will also require dogs to be muzzled when they come off boats in Avalon. Councilwoman Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy called for a marketing campaign to make residents and visitors aware of the new rules. Although she voted for the urgency ordinance, she said she was not in favor of calling out one breed.
Dog attack under criminal investigation

Last week, Capt. John Hocking, commander of the Avalon Sheriff’s Station, said the Sheriff’s Department is conducting a criminal investigation of the dog attack. When the investigation is complete, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office will determine if the case will be prosecuted. According to Campbell’s staff report to the City Council, the two larger dogs apparently had a prior history of attacks.

On April 18, two 120-pound American bull terriers—one of the breeds collectively referred to as “pit bulls”—attacked Jack Russell terrier named Josh. His owner John Brady covered the dog to protect him. As a result, Brady suffered severe injuries to his arms and one of his legs.

American bull terriers are one of several breeds collectively referred to as “pit bulls.”

Brady’s daughter Brooke Brady has launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to pay his medical bills and the cost of the emergency flight to the mainland. According to a recent update on the Go Fund Me page, Brady and Josh have both had their stiches removed. Brady is expected to speak with a specialist to determine when he can begin receiving skin grafts. Josh is recovering physically but is now afraid of other dogs.

 

Urgency ordinance

According to the staff report by Campbell, the ordinances would identify dangerous dogs, restrict ownership of potentially dangerous dogs, establish stricter regulations for transporting potentially dangerous dogs, require pit bulls to be spayed or neutered and “require the muzzling of dogs in areas where dogs are only allowed to pass through on leashes.”

Cassidy said she would vote for the urgency ordinance, but said the city needed to do an outreach to the community as well as boaters bringing dogs to the Island.

However, some members of the community did not support the new law’s breed-specific focus of the spaying and neutering program.

Michael Ponce, a former council member, said, “Any dog can be made a vicious dog.” Ponce, who grew up with pit bulls, said pit bulls are not a dangerous breed.

One woman pointed out that the Staffordshire bull terrier looks very similar to “pit bulls.”

Councilman Joe Sampson said all dogs have the potential to bite. He said these dogs, meaning pit bulls, have the potential to kill people. Mayor Anni Marshall said the dogs would do what they were bred to do.

Technically, council approved two ordinances—a temporary “urgency ordinance” that takes effect immediately and a regular ordinance that must be read before two council meetings and then published before it takes effect. City Attorney Campbell explained that if the urgency ordinance is challenged in court, approving the regular version of the ordinance would still leave the new dog law on the books. That means the dog ordinance will return to the next council meeting.

The urgency ordinance passed by a vote of 4-5, with Marshall dissenting. The regular ordinance passed on the first reading by a vote of 3-2, with Marshall and Cassidy dissenting. Marshall told the Islander that she cast the dissenting vote because she would prefer to promote spaying a neutering of all breeds of dog, not just one. The website for John Brady’s fundraiser is https://www.gofundme.com/emergency-vet-bills-for-my-dads-dog.

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