In 2011, my wife Delta was walking our 6-pound toy poodle, “Lucky,” on a leash on the sidewalk across the street from our home in North Auburn. In a nearby park (not a dog park), a family had taken their pit bull off leash to play. The pit bull ran from the park and made an unprovoked attack on Delta and Lucky.
Delta picked up Lucky and was holding her in her arms when the pit bull struck, knocking Delta to the ground and biting Lucky in her midsection, holding on with a death grip. The pit bull owner pried his dog’s teeth off of our toy poodle’s body and we took our dog to a veterinarian hospital where she died a few hours later. Delta wasn’t bitten or seriously injured.
Animal Services shocked us with the information that no action could be taken against the pit bull because, by state statute, harm to another pet, no matter how vicious, is forgiven unless a previous offense by the attacking dog could be proven.
Working with Animal Services, we were able to bring a misdemeanor action against the pit bull owner based on two Placer County ordinances. He pled guilty and was fined $475. No action could be taken against the pit bull because we had no way to prove any previous attacks.
Delta and I then appeared before the Placer County Board of Supervisors, telling our story. We learned that the supervisors and Animal Services were working on a revised Animal Control Ordinance, and the final result of that was a firm leash law and a way to charge a vicious dog on its first offense. The new Placer County Ordinance, which we like to call the “Lucky Law,” was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors and went into effect in 2011.
Placer County is not allowed to outlaw pit bulls because of a California state statute that prohibits counties or local communities from passing an ordinance that discriminates against a particular breed of dog. Pit bulls have been bred to kill other dogs in dog fights, usually held in dog fighting pits (hence the name “pit bulls”). Pit bulls are illegal in many communities in the United States, including Denver, Colo., and Miami, Fla.
In my opinion, it is not fair to other breeds of guard dogs to compare them with pit bulls, because German shepherds, weimaraners and such are bred and trained to protect people rather than to fight in dog fights. In the interest of public safety, we need to revise our state statutes to correct these problems.
Tom Ricky, Auburn