In response to recent incidents involving vicious dogs roaming the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles County will increase staffing and equipment and add another call center to help curb the problem, officials said.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved nearly $775,000 for the project immediately and has earmarked an additional $2.4 million for approval soon, said Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who represents the area.
The money was allocated in response to last month's fatal mauling of a Littlerock woman by a pack of pit bulls as she was taking an early morning walk near her home.
The incident sparked outrage and complaints from residents, who said stray dogs frequently roam their semi-rural, desert neighborhoods.
One woman said a stray dog killed her cat; another woman said she carries a pistol to protect herself against bands of wild dogs she has seen in the area.
Alex Donald Jackson, 29, owner of the dogs that killed Pamela Devitt, 63, has been charged with murder in the case. The district attorney's office said authorities had received at least three reports this year of attacks by Jackson's dogs.
Beginning July 1, five additional animal control officers will be deployed in the area and have access to six new vehicles and such protective equipment as collapsible batons, pepper spray and ballistic vests, Antonovich said.
Later year, officials expect to add welve staff members to units that investigate dangerous-dog cases and cases of animal cruelty, neglect, illegal animal fighting and animal hoarding.
Marcia Mayeda, director of the county Department of Animal Care and Control, said Tuesday the department plans to open another communications center in the Antelope Valley, most likely at the Lancaster animal shelter. Currently, all calls regarding animal problems go to the county's only communications center, in Downey, which is so busy that callers often must wait on hold, Mayeda said.
The second communications center, to be staffed with local residents familiar with the Antelope Valley's unusual address system, will help reduce volume on the Downey center and provide better service in the desert area, Mayeda said. She hopes the new center can be open before the end of the year.
"With additional staffing and resources," Antonovich said in a statement released Monday, "the county animal control officers will have the tools necessary to patrol our neighborhoods and hold irresponsible owners accountable when they allow their dogs to roam, fight, breed and attack other pets and people."
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