Discussion of problematic pooches got Dickensian Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors. “Over my life, I’ve seen the best of pets and the worst of pets,” said Supervisor Doreen Farr, who, along with the rest of her colleagues, voted to postpone making proposed changes to the county’s “dangerous dogs” ordinance. Currently, dogs deemed a threat are automatically euthanized, but Animal Services began tinkering this year with the finer points of the decision process.
County staff — with input from animal groups including members of DAWG, who showed up on Tuesday — had suggested creating the new classifications of “potentially dangerous” and “vicious,” the latter of which would only propose euthanasia, not mandate it. Dogs that fall under those categories could be required to be kept indoors or in a secure enclosure, possibly padlocked and with concrete floors, and ordered to wear reflective collars. In explaining their vote, the supervisors said they wanted the language to be made clearer and questioned the need for the changes now. (According to Public Health, the county has held four “dangerous dog” hearings this year, but figures for previous years weren’t available.) Mainly, the supervisors raised concerns about enforcement, given Animal Services’ current staffing levels and the increased costs the changes could incur.
Supervisor Peter Adam, saying enforcement would make for a “regulatory morass,” addressed the DAWG activists in the room, who pointed to the cases of Duke and Daisy — dogs who killed three cats and are now awaiting word from a judge, expected later this month, over whether they will be euthanized or allowed to be re-homed in Montana. “These particular dogs here didn’t have a lapse of judgment,” Adam said. “These things are like ticking time bombs.” Jennie Reinish, a member of DAWG’s board of directors who got emotional in advocating for the changes (and that those changes apply retroactively to Duke and Daisy), called Tuesday’s vote “an outcome that nobody, even in our worst nightmares, thought would happen.”