Breed-specific legislation has helped reduce gang-related crime, says Lancaster mayor
Last January, Lancaster city officials voted to adopt an ordinance designed to discourage gangs by imposing penalties on the owners of dogs deemed "potentially dangerous" or "vicious." You guessed it -- the law singled out two breeds in particular, pit bulls and Rottweilers. Our colleague Ann M. Simmons has the details on what's transpired since the law went into effect; here's an excerpt:
City officials said that 1,138 pit bulls and Rottweilers were impounded last year by the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control. Of those, 362 were voluntarily surrendered by their owners in response to Lancaster’s ordinance.
"A year ago, this city was overrun with individuals -- namely, gang members -- who routinely used pit bulls and other potentially vicious dogs as tools of intimidation and violence," Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a statement.
"These individuals delighted in the danger these animals posed to our residents, often walking them without leashes and allowing them to run rampant through our neighborhoods and parks. Today, more than 1,100 of these animals have been removed from our city, along with the fear they create. Lancaster is now a great deal safer because of it."
Parris believes there is a correlation between the results of the dog ordinance and a drop in the city's gang crime rate. Lancaster's violent gang crime, which includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, fell by 45% last year, and there was a drop in overall gang crime by 41%, Parris said, citing statistics from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
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Photo: Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris in 2009. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times