In the wake of an I-Team report, the city will now immediately impound any dog that seriously injures a person or kills another pet, in an attempt to protect the public from dangerous dogs.
Three weeks ago, the I-Team revealed that LA's Department of Animal Services often failed to impound dogs that mauled, and sometimes those dogs attacked other people or animals again.
"We have three victims from the same dog," said Jon Hinton, whose 8-year-old son was mauled in 2013 by an Akita. The same dog injured a woman nine months earlier, and then mauled the face of a man 11 months after attacking the boy. After each attack, the city did not impound the Akita.
"We clearly could have prevented all these things," Hinton told NBC4.
When questioned last month by the I-Team, the general manager of LA's Department of Animal Services, Brenda Barnette, admitted her department could be doing more to protect the public from potentially dangerous dogs.
So Barnette just issued a directive to all Animal Services employees, ordering them to "impound immediately" any dog that injures a person who ends up requiring medical care, or seriously injures another dog or cat.
"I would err on the side of safety and I would impound more dogs," Barnette told NBC4.
That's welcome news to Stephen Elliott of Studio City. Last year, while walking down Ventura Boulevard with his partner Rusty Fox, a pit bull lunged at their Yorkie, killing the dog and biting off part of Elliott's finger. The attacking dog, named Widow, was not impounded by the city, and Animal Services lost track of Widow's whereabouts.
"This is reform that's much needed," Elliott said about the new impound policy. "It's a significant move in the right direction towards protecting public safety."
The new directive also requires that owners of dogs that attack attend a "Dangerous Animal Hearing." At the hearing, the city could decide to order the attacking dog be removed from the city of LA, or it could be "humanely euthanized," or it could be returned to its owner with conditions, such as the dog must always be kept on a leash outside the house.
If you know of a dog that has attacked a person or pet, immediately report them to LA Department of Animal Services at 888-452-7381, or http://www.laanimalservices.com/