LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Los Angeles County supervisors adopted an ordinance Tuesday that gives animal control officers the right to declare a dog “vicious,” a designation that can result in the animal being euthanized.

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The new measure, which takes effect in 30 days, changes the definition of what actually makes a dog dangerous, and does not require a severe injury to a person who is attacked by a dog.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks
reports animal control officers will now have the power to seize an animal simply for chasing someone.

“There doesn’t necessarily have to be a bite,” said director of animal control Marcia Mayeda. “But if a dog’s charging at you down the street and you jump on top of a car to get out of the way, that’s a potentially dangerous dog.”

Under current law, owners of dogs deemed to be potentially dangerous can be forced to either muzzle the dogs and place them on a short leash or otherwise confine them — in addition to requiring the dog to undergo training classes.

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But if a dog is determined to be a “significant threat to the public health, safety and welfare,” animal control personnel can destroy the dog under the new ordinance.

Previously, only a judge could find a dog vicious.

The Department of Animal Care and Control sought the new ordinance to save legal costs and make it easier to protect the public from dogs that have the potential to attack people.

Dog owners will be able to contest the findings of animal control officers, but they must notify their intent to appeal within five days.

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