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LAGUNA BEACH : Dogcatchers May Put Bite on Motorists


The City Council has expanded the power of the city's two animal control officers, allowing them to issue citations, starting next month.

City officials say the officers, who are not armed and receive less training than police officers, will not take lawbreakers into custody but can issue citations as necessary while attending to their duties involving animals.

The council's unanimous action Tuesday will make it easier for the city to deal with those who park illegally at the city's dog park and elsewhere in town.

Parking problems at what has become known as "Bark Park" on Laguna Canyon Road have grown along with the park's popularity. But until now, animal control officers patrolling the park have had to call a police officer to write tickets for parking violations.

"It's just a way to expedite the process a little bit," Animal Control Officer Joy Lingenfelter said. "We usually ask people to move (their cars), but there have been people declining to do so, so we would like to have the power to issue a citation or have the car towed if need be."

Deputy Police Chief Jim Spreine said it is fiscally wise to allow animal control officers to issue citations when they see someone littering or otherwise disobeying the law.

"It's better to have an extra set of eyes and ears to deal with other Municipal Code violations," Spreine said. "They're there anyway."

Last October, seeking to further protect marine life along the city's coastline, the council granted lifeguards power to cite beach-goers who violate California fish and game laws.

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