Responding in part to the fatal mauling of a jogger in the Littlerock area, the Board of Supervisors last week approved funding to hire more animal control officers and purchase equipment so the county can better respond to reports of potentially dangerous animals.
The board approved $365,000 to hire five animal control officers, along with $408,000 to purchase protective equipment for the officers and six trucks.
According to a report presented to the board, the county Department of Animal Care and Control responded to 97,000 calls for service in 2012, and more than 10,000 of those calls for were aggressive or biting animals. The agency handled about 17,000 calls assisting law enforcement or rescuing injured animals.
The issue of vicious animals was highlighted on May 9, when 63-year-old Pamela Devitt was fatally attacked by a pack of pit bulls while jogging in the Littlerock area.
Littlerock resident Alex Donald Jackson, 29, was charged with murder and other counts, with sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors contending that DNA tests show his dogs were the ones that attacked the woman. He remains jailed while awaiting arraignment next month.
Marcia Mayeda, director of the animal control department, said the problem with vicious animals can often be traced to the owner.
“There’ve been all these situations where we see the failure is where there’s been a lack of socialization of the animal, a lack of awareness of the owner as far as the potential that that animal can cause for harm, and lack of spaying and neutering, lack of proper fencing and control,” she said. “And then also having too many animals, because then they form a pack. And an animal individually that might be OK, when there’s three or four of them it’s a real problem, and that’s what we saw in the Antelope Valley.”
Eight dogs were confiscated from Jackson’s property shortly after the attack on Devitt.
The county is also considering other steps to bolster its animal control efforts, including the creation of critical- and major-case units to investigate cases of vicious animals, and to expand the department’s communications center, which can receive as many as 700,000 calls annually, according to the county.
Those efforts would cost more than $2.4 million