By Nick Diamantides
Starting about a month from now, Signal Hill residents who fail to keep their dogs on leashes or who don’t pick up their pets’ droppings might incur hefty fines. During its Tuesday night meeting, the Signal Hill City Council adopted an ordinance increasing fines for violations of animal-control violations and authorizing the Signal Hill Police Department to issue citations to violators.
The Signal Hill ordinance is word-for-word identical to the Long Beach animal-control ordinance that was adopted by the Long Beach City Council a few months ago. Long Beach Animal Care Services has been providing dog licensing and other animal-control services to Signal Hill under contract for many years.
“The adoption of the proposed Animal Control ordinance and related fines will provide consistency between the rules that apply to Long Beach and Signal Hill residents who wish to keep animals,” said Kathy Sorensen, director of community services, in her report to the council. “Of specific concern to the city council have been dogs off leash and lack of feces removal by pet owners.”
She added that the new ordinance will also make animal-control violations “administrative citations,” thus removing them from the court system. “This new process will provide for quicker enforcement and remedy to the problems, which will be an added improvement, especially for those residents who have consistent problems with barking dogs,” Sorensen stressed.
Under the new law, having an unlicensed dog or failing to obtain a permit for fowl, rabbits, or goats will bring a $55 fine for the first violation, a $110 fine for the second violation and a $275 fine for all subsequent violations within 12 months. Violations for a variety of animal-control regulations, including the leash law, feces removal and barking dogs, will bring a $100 fine for the first violation, a $200 fine for the second violation and a $500 fine for all subsequent violations within 12 months.
Failure to comply with animal breeding and transfer laws, or the vicious animal laws, will result in a $350 fine for the first violation, a $700 fine for the second and a $1,000 fine for all subsequent violations within 12 months.
“If someone feels they were unduly penalized, they can go through the administrative appeal process,” Sorensen said. She explained the appeal process will require a deposit of $500 plus the cost of the citation.
The ordinance is scheduled to go into effect on November 20. Meanwhile, Signal Hill and Long Beach officials will likely have to make some minor changes to the language of the law. After Sorensen’s presentation, City Attorney David Aleshire pointed out that, according to Signal Hill’s contract with Long Beach Animal Care services, animal-control fees go to the City of Long Beach, but fines go to the City of Signal Hill. The new ordinance contradicts that agreement by giving both the fees and fines to the City of Long Beach.
Signal Hill Mayor Ellen Ward said that would have to change because there will be costs incurred by the SHPD when its officers start issuing citations for animal-control violations.
The next meeting of the Signal Hill City Council is scheduled for 7pm on November 3 in the Council Chambers of Signal Hill City Hall.