LA Animal Control overhauls how it works for the first time since the '40s

File: Chihuahuas await adoption at a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services shelter on Dec. 15, 2009 in Los Angeles.
File: Chihuahuas await adoption at a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services shelter on Dec. 15, 2009 in Los Angeles.
David McNew/Getty Images

The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control got a big overhaul Tuesday. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a shiny new version of Title 10 — the list of rules that directs how the department operates — that they've been revising for two-and-a-half years. 

This is the first time the statute has been completely updated since it was written, department director Marcia Mayeda told KPCC. 

"There's language in here going back to the '40s. And that's when Animal Control started. So I think over time they've added things as new issues came up, but they've never done an overhaul," she said. 

The ordinance has received some sparse improvements in the past, she added — but the more they reviewed it, the more the department realized that a lot of language was extremely dense. 

“The language was archaic. It was written in a very old-fashioned, bureaucratic language that was really difficult for the average person to understand," Mayeda said. 

Another significant motivation for the overhaul: inconsistencies between the ordinance and state or federal laws. The revision is partly aimed at eliminating any confusion or contradictions, Mayeda said. These alterations shaved down the ordinance by 38 percent. 

One of the more notable upgrades is that it's now easier to report a noisy animal. The former rule required people to take a neighborhood survey in order to get a hearing. Now, it's become a citation process — meaning you only need one complaint. The pet owners then get 10 days after they're notified to remedy the issue before they're issued a $100 fine.

That part of the ordinance used to only address barking dogs, but Mayeda said they also received a lot of complaints about crowing roosters and other animals. Now, there's a mechanism in place to address different animals — including roosters.

Angelenos can see signs posted across the city advertising animals (mostly dogs) that are lost or found. But the county ordinance states that if you find a dog, that isn't the correct route to take. Instead, you're required to make reasonable efforts to locate the owner within four hours of finding the stray animal and you must call the department to report the stray, according to Mayeda. You then have to contact the department to arrange for the stray to be picked up or drop it off at an animal care center — you can't keep it with you. 

That's because posting signs isn't always the most effective way to find the owner, Mayeda said. 

“Signs get taken down, they get lost, they get blown off by the wind. The animal may have traveled a mile and the owner doesn’t know that the animal is in [that] neighborhood," she said. 

The ordinance was also updated to reflect the federal law that allows miniature horses to be service animals to the blind or visually impaired.