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I recently got an email from a Long Beach resident who expressed frustration over a perceived lack of enforcement of Long Beach’s leash law. The resident’s neighbors were regularly allowing their dogs to run loose, and requests to keep the dogs indoors or leashed were met with a cold shoulder. Repeated reports to the animal-control division of Long Beach Animal Care Services yielded only form letters, and the neighbors never received a fine, to the resident’s knowledge.
Included in the email was the text of a Press-Telegram letter to the editor in which its writer said, “It’s time to stop giving warnings to the entitled repeat offenders and just ticket on sight.”
That would be ideal if the city and animal control were to find a way to be at the scene immediately, but that’s a tough ball to roll, with the limited number of animal control officers and five cities to serve.
There are way more responsible dog owners than irresponsible ones, but like anything undesirable or downright bad, the scofflaws stick out like shed fur on dark pants. I grit my teeth every time I see an unleashed dog with their owner pass by my window or hang loose on public sidewalks. The other day, some muttonhead went charging past us down the street on his bicycle, his Rottweiler galumphing behind him. Scenarios entered my head, none of them good—the dog getting distracted and attacking another (leashed) dog, the dog knocking someone down or scaring the biscuits out of them, the dog getting creamed by a car, the dog taking a powder and winding up in the literally overflowing shelter.
Those aren’t possibilities—they happen all the time. That’s why we have a leash law—to protect humans, other animals and the dogs themselves.
“Animal control could make thousands ticketing off-leash dog owners, yet I never see them in our neighborhood!” one comment on Nextdoor read.
Animal control officers would by all means ticket and issue fines if there were one officer on every corner, and therein lies the belly rub. If you call animal control, dog and owner will be long gone by the time the officers get there. If they get there.
“It’s important to know that we have 12 officers to respond to calls for service across a population of almost 500,000 people,” LBACS manager Staycee Dains said. “We’re not staffed like a police department. It takes us, on average, 30 minutes to get to a priority 1 call.”
Animal control has six levels of call priority. Priority 1 is the highest, involving a person in danger, and priority 6 is the lowest. It includes uninjured, unleashed dogs that haven’t harmed people or other animals. Dains said that reporting an unleashed dog could take seven days for a response.
One solution that Dains suggested for nipping the nuisances in the bud would be to research which areas are problematic and the days and times of most of the incidences.
“We can then strategize supervisory officers,” she said. “Then, carry your ticket money, because when we come out, you will get a ticket.”
Going up to someone with an unleashed dog and telling them about the law usually meets with indifference, as with my email correspondent’s situation; with snarky comments (“And good morning to you, too!”); and with outright hostility (“You know where you can put your leash law?”). Yes, I’ve done all that, and a peep into social-media apps like Nextdoor will show that I’m far from alone.
“The majority of people do leash their dogs,” Dains said. “(The offenders) stand out, and their selfishness is putting their own dog in danger and ruining what could be a nice time for their neighbors and other community members.”
Dogs off the leash cannot be controlled as easily as leashed dogs, and if dogs are allowed to run free without owner supervision, there’s no control at all. Unleashed dogs are more likely to go after another human, a squirrel, a cat or a leashed dog or to poop in someone’s yard, with the dog owner unaware of it—if they care.
“And not everyone enjoys a dog jumping on them,” Dains said. “Some people are terrified of dogs, and they have the right not to be afraid and enjoy their park or their walk and not be accosted by dogs.”
Some unleashed dogs are perfectly trained and will walk shoulder to leg with their owners, but there are no “I have a well-behaved dog and am entitled to flout the law” certificates. Even the most scrupulously trained canine is subject to danger. Unarguably, the danger to the dogs themselves should be paramount to their owners.
“You could have the nicest dog, but if a bird lands or a squirrel lands, that dog is gonna dog,” Dains said. “Another thing that people don’t think about is if you’re a dog lover and a dog runs in front of your car, how are you going to feel? And I’m not the person that wants to run over a dog.”
Long Beach has many dog parks where people can take their dogs to run off leash, but the parks have rules, too, that are also difficult to enforce if there’s no one supervising. Some owners are uncomfortable about bringing their dogs in, for this reason.
“I get it—I have a large dog, he’s 100 pounds and a little bit dog reactive,” Dains said. “I want to let him run like crazy in an open field, but I don’t take him to the dog park because I don’t know how he’s going to react. So, what does that mean for my giant dog? We take lots of walks.”
Dains is looking into an app called SniffSpot on which people offer their property to people who want to let their dogs run free. The properties, rates and conditions vary. There’s at least one such property in Long Beach.
In his Feb. 3 newsletter, District 4 Councilman Daryl Supernaw referred to the huge number of citations, warnings and compliance letters sent to people, which seemed to have no effect. He foresees the issue being addressed at a future City Council meeting.
But evert bad outcome, Dains said, whether paying a fine or endangering a human or an animal, including your own, is 100% avoidable.
“Let’s just be good neighbors and keep our animals safe,” she said.
SAFE Rescue Team’s mission is to lead animals, dogs mostly, to safety—dogs who have been abandoned, neglected, abused or found in dire situations. Here are some of their lucky beneficiaries, all of whom have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and vetted. Check out the rest of the gang here, and access the application to adopt. When you come in to meet your new bestie, remember the harness and leash.
Great furballs of fun!
District 8 adoption event: Saturday, May 6, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Bixby Knolls Park, 1101 E. San Antonio Drive. Adoption fees apply.
Spend a day at the park with your bestie, whom you’re bound to find in Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin’! District 8 Councilman Al Austin will host the event.
Cinco de Meow festival: Saturday, May 6, 3 p.m.–5 p.m., Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7500 E. Spring St. The event is free, and there’s no parking fee for shelter guests.
After the adoption event at the park, salsa on over to the shelter to celebrate with the frisky felines. And how do you like kitty personalities? Mild? Spicy? Through the ceiling? Our shelter has them all. Celebrate the spicy cats program and Mexican heritage with music, taco trucks and all the felinos y felinas you could want to see! ¡Andale, orale, hijole, gatitole!
Tap 24 Trivia Time: Sunday, May 7, noon, Tap 24 Bar & Grill, 4750 E. Los Coyotes Blvd. Free event.
Enjoy an epic pub quiz and support kitties from The Little Lion Foundation and The Cat Cove. You can win free drinks or products from Hide & Scratch, but the definite winners will be the cats in the rescues. No reservations required—everyone is welcome.
Zazzy Cats Kitty Rescue Spring Yard Sale: Friday–Monday, 19–21, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., 1205 Umatilla Ave. Item prices vary.
Clean out your castle and bring the stuff that has worn out its welcome—gently used furniture, clothing, household items, crafts you made by knitting cat fur. All of the proceeds from selling them will go directly to Zazzy Cats’ efforts to help homeless kittens and cats and find them good homes from where they’ll spend their entire lives. All donations are tax deductible—they will be accepted May 18 from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. at the yard sale address. What’s no longer zazzy to one person will surely be zazzy to another.
Foster for a while—or furever!
If you’ve always wanted a pet but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a lifetime (the animal’s) commitment, or if you’re past the pet-roommate days for any reason, fostering might be a great way to go, especially with one or more of the kittens popping up during kitten season. Every one of the organizations listed below is in desperate need of fosters who’ll social them and help save their little lives. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about the not-ready-for-roommate thing.
These nonprofits also regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions. As of now, adoptions are mainly by appointment. Click on the links for each rescue in case of updates or changes. These organizations operate through donations and grants, and anything you can give would be welcome. Please suggest any Long Beach-area rescues to add to the list. Keep in mind that the rescues are self-supporting and need donations and volunteer help. Most of them cannot accept found or unwanted pets. Contact Long Beach Animal Care Services for options.
German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County
Long Beach Animal Care Services
Long Beach Spay and Neuter Foundation
Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center
Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue