There are leash laws in every fire district in Plumas County, said animal control officer Alex Saez last Thursday.
Dogs must be leashed in campgrounds, in parks, at the beach — anywhere a dog and its owner might run into another person, he added. In addition, signs are generally posted, he noted.
More reports to the Plumas County Animal Control or the Sheriff’s Dispatch concerning dogs running wild and bothering someone else or their property are coming in.
And bite cases are being reported.
Recently, an individual was walking down the bike path in Quincy when an unleashed dog bit him. That dog and his owner quickly disappeared. Because they had no information on whether the dog was vaccinated and licensed, and no clue about the owner, the individual had to undergo rabies shots.
“People don’t realize that we have a leash law,” Saez said.
Saez encourages people to check out the county web site at countyofplumas.com and determine which fire district they are in; they’re color-coded. Anywhere within those districts leashes are required. But other restrictions can apply outside those districts.
All campgrounds in Plumas County are posted that dogs must be on a leash, Saez explained. Parks also have restrictions and some want no dogs at all.
There are seven fire districts in Plumas County, according to Plumas County ordinance 6-1.214. These districts are in Chester, Graeagle, Greenville, the Peninsula, Quincy, West Almanor and Plumas Eureka.
An animal must be under the owner’s control, longtime animal control officer Melissa Bishop explained. Control can also be established by voice or hand commands or shock collars, she added.
More dogs will be at large with the warm weather and with more people visiting the area.
Every person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punishable by a mandatory fine of not less than $50 and not more than $200, according to the ordinance.
A citation demands a court appearance and “answer the charges for such violation.”
Funds within this section are set aside and used toward county spay and neuter programs.
County ordinance 6-1.108 covers animals at large. This includes dogs and branded livestock. “It shall be unlawful and a violation of this section for any animal to be beyond the immediate control of the person owning, possessing, or caring for such animal when the animal is 1) at large on a road or street or other public place; or 2) at large on private property without the permission of the owner or occupant of the property.”
Livestock, including fowl, must be restrained by an adequate fence, according to the ordinance. The ordinance also outlined what an animal control officer or the judge will use in determining if that fence is adequate. Animals can be staked or tied for grazing purposes on private property.
Any animal found to be at large could be taken to the animal control facility. It is then up to the officer to contact the animal’s owner and notify the individual that the animal has been impounded. If the owner is unknown or can’t be reached, it’s animal control’s responsibility to post a notice including the animal’s description and where it was picked up for three days at the animal control center.
Animals can be redeemed and there are fees associated with apprehending an animal at large.
If the animal isn’t claimed within three days of being impounded it can be put up for adoption or, as the ordinance states, “disposed of.”
It is generally up to the animal control officer to decide if an individual is going to be cited for having an animal at large, Bishop and Saez agreed.
Giving an example, Saez said that if he sees someone having a good time with a dog in the water, he probably wouldn’t bother them. If the dog is running up and down the beach and is off leash, that’s a different matter, he said. In that event he could issue a warning to leash the animal or issue a citation.
Two animal control officers are out patrolling much of the week. Longtime officer Bishop works five days a week, while Saez is on duty four 10-hour days, including Saturdays.
Saez said extra patrols have made a big difference in some parts of the county. Residents in the Meadow Valley area have gotten a lot better about not letting their dogs run loose, he said.
In another incident, the mother of two young boys became concerned when two pitbulls appeared on her property.
Although any dog can suddenly bite, pitbulls are noted for their large mouths and extremely strong jaws. The original animal, the Staffordshire terrier, was bred to help control bulls. They were bred with strong jaws so they could chomp down on a bull’s face or another body part and not let go. Although the breed has changed from its original English ancestor, the strong jaws and tendency not to let go still remain.
Saez said he was familiar with the incident and the two pitbulls. One of the dogs was actually aggressive and is no longer in the county, he said.
All dogs in Plumas County must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed, according to information provided by Bishop.
County ordinance 6-1.201 covers licensing requirements.
All dogs that are 6 months old and older must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed. Veterinarians throughout the county vaccinate and provide a statement indicating that a dog has been vaccinated. That statement must be brought to the animal shelter at the time the individual is purchasing the license.
In Plumas County, only dogs must be licensed, according to Bishop. In Los Angeles, for example, cats must also be licensed. And they’re not allowed outside.
Saez said it’s up to the owner to determine if the dog is vaccinated for other diseases.
He highly recommends that owners vaccinate against parvovirus. This is a highly contagious viral illness. In its common form, it shows up as an intestinal irritation and causes vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and lack of appetite.
A less common form attacks the heart muscles of young puppies and leads to death.
“Parvo — that’s a killer,” Saez said. They just had a dog brought into the shelter with parvo. They did manage to nurse the dog through the virus and it got adopted, he added.
But parvo is highly contagious, Saez emphasized. If a dog is allowed to run loose and it has parvo, it could drink out of a puddle and spread the virus to other animals that come in contact with that water.
Both Bishop and Saez encourage people to call the animal shelter at 283-3673 to report at-large or stray dogs, or call the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center at 283-6300.
Any dog can bite, but some are more aggressive
Are pitbulls more aggressive than other dogs? Some people seem to think so.
“The risk associated with “pitbull-type” dogs is fully in-line with other strong breeds,” according to peer-reviewed studies and discussed on PITBULL.ORG concerning facts over fear. The studies are the result of work done by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
One would expect a web site dedicated to pitbulls to be in favor of the dogs, but they do offer a list of what they call strong dogs and their tendency to bite. They also admit these dogs are known to kill people.
According to the site, malamutes are far more likely to attack someone. They’re followed by chow chows, then Saint Bernards, all husky types, great danes, rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, mastiffs, then the pitbulls, the akita, the German shepherd and then the bulldog.
In the study, “Breed is not a factor in bite-related fatalities and media reports are a poor source for breed information.” It’s estimated the there is a 40 percent identification error rate with what kind of dog it is. Although it might be pointed out that all 12 of the dogs listed as strong dogs are all vastly different in appearance.
The site claims that there is no difference in bite severity found among the dogs. However, there is no getting around what pitbulls were originally bred to do (mentioned in the above story).
And that’s not all. Admittedly, some people have pitbulls because they love the breed and treat them with kindness, but far too many people have a pitbull because they desire an aggressive dog. These people teach the dog to be aggressive and threatening.
The truth is that pitbulls — Staffordshire terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and other names — were bred to have enormous jaw strength, according to dogsbite.org. They also have what is described as “a ruinous “hold and shake” bite style, designed to inflict the maximum damage possible on their victims.”
Because of this, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a pitbull ban in 2005. Those judges determined that pitbulls “inflicted more serious wounds than other breeds. They tend to attack the deep muscles, to hold on, to shake and to cause ripping of tissues. Pitbull attacks were compared to shark attacks.”
The AVMA could be right that pitbulls don’t bite more often that other strong dogs, but their bits are often very serious.