SANTA ANA ( — A revised ordinance that would have further regulated vicious dogs in Orange County was rejected Tuesday after criticism from several dog owners.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors decided that the county will continue enforcing its current ordinance and abandon staff’s recommended changes to define dangerous dogs on a scale of 1-3. The most dangerous dogs, level 3, would be euthanized, Orange County Animal Care Director Ryan Drabek said.

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A Level 1 dog would be one that on two occasions during a 36-month period did something that put someone or another animal in a “defensive, protective or fleeing” position. A dog could have been categorized as Level 1 if it bit a person without provocation, leaving at most a minor injury. A Level 1 dog could have graduated to the second level if the bad behavior persisted.

A Level 2 dog would have been one guilty of an unprovoked attack on four separate occasions, forcing someone or another animal to avoid injury. Level 2 dogs would also be defined as ones that cause a severe or substantial injury to a person or other animal. Dogs used for fighting or trained to fight would have been considered Level 2.

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A Level 3 dog would be one that killed someone or caused a severe injury such as maiming. Police or military dogs on the job would have been exempt. A dog would have been labeled Level 3 only if the owner was convicted, Drabek said.

The county’s existing ordinance is the same as state law, with two classifications – potentially dangerous and vicious, Drabek said. There’s nothing in the current ordinance that automatically mandates the euthanization of a dangerous dog.

Last year, the Board of Supervisors approved a change to the ordinance, cracking down on the ability of pet owners to get another dog when a dangerous canine is taken away from them.

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Dog owners said the proposed changes to the ordinance was unfair, because it would have permanently labeled dogs rescued from fighting rings as vicious. Drabek said state law already does that.

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