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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 1:43 pm | Fair 63º


Santa Barbara County Supervisors Approve Changes to Dangerous-Dog Ordinance, Licensing Requirements

Board also approves four-year contract for County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato with a 4-percent raise

Santa Barbara County supervisors approved multiple changes to its regulations related to vicious and restricted dogs Tuesday, and will start requiring a rabies certificate for dogs to be licensed. 

County Animal Services Manager Jan Glick proposed expanding the definition of “vicious dog” to include canine attacks on another domestic animal, such as livestock.

Current regulations only address attacks that injure or kill people, Glick said.

“When the attack is severe, we want to be able to address that as a vicious dog,” she said.

Under the county's current ordinance, a dog can be determined vicious if an animal engages in illegal fighting or has been trained to participate in fighting; inflicts serious injury or kills a person when unprovoked; and continues behavior that resulted in it being deemed a “restricted” dog.

Restricted dogs have usually bitten someone unprovoked; engaged in behavior that requires a defensive action by an individual to prevent bodily injury; and has killed, seriously bitten, inflicted injury or otherwise caused injury, unprovoked, to a domestic animal or livestock, according to the county's ordinance.

Glick recommended expanding the definition of vicious dogs and including a fee increase for services associated with vicious and restricted dogs, with the overall goal to increase public safety.

The supervisors voted unanimously to approve staff's recommendation to amend the ordinance and adopt the new fee schedule, which is set to be effective Nov. 3.

The new fees include a $60 licensing surcharge for a restricted dog, a $412 hearing fee for a dog that is found to be vicious or restricted, a $500 fine for violating the restricted dog regulations, and a $1,000 fine for violating the vicious dog restriction.

Board of Supervisors Chair Joan Hartmann, who owns four dogs, said the hearing was good reminder for dog owners to always be mindful and responsible pet owners, especially when taking their animals out into open space areas and letting them off leash.

“We don't always know how they are going to behave,” Hartmann said.

The supervisors last discussed the dangerous-dog ordinance in November 2015.

Carpinteria resident Suzanne Duca spoke during public comment about a recent incident where she and a friend where riding horses along a beach on the South Coast when they were attacked by a dog she claims was already determined to be restricted.

Duca showed the supervisors graphic photographs of one of the horses which was reportedly severely injured by the dog, and said the other horse had to be retired due to the trauma it suffered during the attack, she said.

“We dodged a bullet,” Duca said. “This truly is important and it's for the common good.”

Supervisors also approved a new regulation requiring dog owners to provide a rabies certificate to the county in order to get a dog license.

Additionally, veterinarians will be required to submit a copy of a rabies vaccination certificate whenever the vaccine is administered to a dog.

Glick told the supervisors about half the veterinarian clinics in the county already issue dog licenses and the hope is that the new requirement may expand the voluntary program.

“We want to be customer friendly and flexible with the veterinary community,” she said, noting letters had been sent to all the veterinarians notifying them of the proposed change.

“It's been a very beneficial program for us in the compliance aspect.”

California law mandates licensing and rabies vaccination for dogs in all counties declared rabies areas, which includes the entire state.

Supervisors renew contract with County Executive Officer 

With a unanimous vote, the supervisors on Tuesday approved a four-year renewed employment contract with County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato.

The board remained silent about Miyasato's job performance when approving the new contract, although it represents a 4-percent, performance-based increase over her current $230,000 salary.

Miyasato will now earn $259,472 annually, plus benefits, receiving almost $400 monthly in medical and dental benefits and a $5,000 contribution to a retirement fund, said County Counsel Michael Ghizzoni.

The compensation in the contract, which expires in 2021, is in line with what other county executive managers are paid, Ghizzoni said.

Miyasato was hired to lead the county's executive office in October 2013. She replaced former County Executive Officer Chandra Waller, who had been with the county since 2010.

Noozhawk contributing writer April Charlton can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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