The county Board of Supervisors put more bite into the new aggressive pet ordinance when it decided to target not only animal owners, but also the landlords who rent to them.
The new law — which covers the unincorporated areas of the county — is aimed at preventing attacks before they happen by requiring pet owners to keep menacing animals adequately contained. Violators can be fined $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second and $500 for a third violation occurring within the same year.
Some animal advocates believe the supervisors went too far in including landlords in the ordinance.
Here’s their reasoning: It’s already tough enough to find rental housing that allows pets, and now, landlords will be even more reluctant to rent to pet owners. Some renters will have no alternative but to relinquish their pets, resulting in more animals at local shelters, and more animals euthanized.
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We understand the concern that landlords will be leery about being held responsible for their tenants’ pets.
However, we suspect that this ordinance is like many new laws. It’s getting a lot of attention now because it’s a change from the status quo, but in reality, it will be used only in the most serious cases.
Also, pet owners will be the primary targets; landlords will be cited and fined only as a last resort. It’s worth noting that the language in the ordinance specifies that landlords may be cited — not that they must or will be cited. Also, the county is required to notify landlords of violations and give them a chance to correct the problems before issuing citations.
Besides, landlords ultimately are responsible for what occurs on their property. They should be held accountable if tenants have a pattern of bad behavior, whether they party too loudly, block their neighbors’ driveways or let their snarling, barking dogs terrorize passersby.
We believe the Board of Supervisors was justified in allowing landlords to be held liable under the new ordinance.
We commend animal advocates for their concern, but we believe the most effective way to prevent animals from being euthanized isn’t to oppose sensible laws, but rather, to support animal welfare organizations and low-cost spay and neuter programs.
Editorials are the opinion of The Tribune.