County regulation of fighting canines changed

RIVERSIDE – To ensure that dogs aren’t euthanized merely on the basis of their breeding, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance requiring animal control officials to individually evaluate all canines that are impounded in county facilities during its Jan. 24 meeting.

Ordinance No. 771’s language incorporates terms established under Assembly Bill 1825, which the governor signed into law last July.

The bill, written by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Los Altos, removed a stipulation in the state Food & Agriculture Code that any canine seized from a dog-fighting ring, and whose owner has been criminally convicted of felony dog-fighting, be labeled a “vicious” animal.

County Department of Animal Services officials decided that the same standard should be applied to the county code to prevent the remote possibility that certain dogs might be arbitrarily euthanized once seized by the county.

“We sought to bring the ordinance in lockstep with the state (to allay) the fears of some individuals that a litter of puppies from a dog-fighting house or structure would be euthanized once a conviction is in place,” the county’s chief veterinarian told the board.

Dr. Allan Drusys said that he had no recollection of anything of that nature happening in the past, but it was better to remove all “potential downstream consequences.”

“Every dog we impound is evaluated for health and behavioral characteristics,” Drusys said.

Ordinance No. 771 will strictly assess a canine based on “behavioral issues and adoptability, without consideration to an animal’s dog fighting history,” according to county documents.

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