Pit bull owner may not face charges - The Gilroy Dispatch: Crime Fire Courts

Pit bull owner may not face charges

Dog to be euthanized; City may take ‘second look’ at dangerous dog laws

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Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012 6:30 pm

The Gilroy Police Department may not arrest the man who fled the scene after his pit bull attacked a dachshund in the First Street Starbucks parking lot on Thursday morning, causing the small dog to be euthanized, and causing severe non-life threatening injuries to its owner.

“Right now, we are examining whether or not any crimes were committed,” said Police Sgt. Chad Gallacinao. “It might be more of a civil issue between the victim and the pit bull's owner, or an issue of an animal control violation.”

But as far as state law goes, Gallacinao said that it's not clear if the pit bull's owner did anything to warrant an arrest.

According to the California Penal Code, if a dog bites a person causing substantial physical injury, and its owner reasonably knew about the vicious nature of the dog, that owner is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.   

Whether his owner is arrested or not, because the dog is considered to be a “level three” dangerous dog, the most vicious type of dog outlined in Gilroy's municipal code, police plan to euthanize the pit bull by the end of next week, Gallacinao said.

Once the owner is contacted, he will be held responsible for the cost of the euthanasia as well as the lodging and administrative costs of keeping the animal in custody for the mandatory 10-day holding period before police are allowed to euthanize the animal, according to city code.

The cost of lodging is $100 per day, Gallacinao said, so the pit bull’s owner will face $1,000 in fees, plus the cost of the euthanasia, which costs about $80 for large breed dogs, as well as any other administrative fees incurred while the dog is impounded.

Multiple police cars and medics arrived on the scene at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, and rushed the female owner to a local hospital, according to Police Sgt. Chad Gallacinao. The woman, devastated by seeing her dog attacked, reached out to stop the pit bull, only to have her arm attacked.

Because of the severity of the dachshund’s injuries, the dog’s owner made the choice to put it down later Thursday morning, Gallacinao said.

When police arrived on the scene, the pit bull was not on a leash and the owner was nowhere to be found. It is not clear if the pit bull was on a leash when it attacked the dachshund.

The scene of the bloody attack at the Starbucks parking lot ignited an incensed debate among the readers about whether pit bulls should be regulated in Gilroy.

People came out strongly on both sides, some in vehement support of a pit bull ban while some came to the breed’s defense, accusing people of blaming an entire breed for problems that reflect more on the owner’s irresponsibility than the aggressiveness of the breed.

But most agreed on one thing: This particular pit bull’s owner should be caught and held responsible for his actions.

Police have identified a potential owner, but have not located him or made contact because they are waiting to see what, if any, criminal charges the owner is guilty of.

The pit bull was current on all of its shots, including rabies, and was micro-chipped, which led to an easy whereabouts of its previous owner on Thursday.

Maria Cabatingan, animal control officer who is investigating the incident, did not return phone calls on Monday.

The pit bull remains at the outdoor kennel at the GPD, where it has not displayed signs of aggression, Gallacinao said.

In light of these “horrible attacks,” Mayor Al Pinheiro said he is open to re-evaluating the current city ordinance regarding dangerous dogs. In 2010, City Council came up with an ordinance that defined three levels of dangerous dogs and corresponding regulations for each in response to several aggressive dog attacks.

For example, a level one dangerous dog is a dog who displays aggressive behavior, and is subject to restrictions such as only being allowed outside its owner’s property when wearing a muzzle. A level two dog is a dog that bites a person or animal, and is subject to more regulations than a level one dog, such as not being allowed unattended in a vehicle. A level three dog is a dog who bites a person or animal causing serious injury or death, and that type of dog is to be euthanized under any circumstances.

“At that time we did what we thought was the right thing to do, but maybe it’s time for us to have another look,” Pinheiro said.

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  • gilroylocal posted at 12:35 pm on Fri, Jul 20, 2012.

    gilroylocal Posts: 61

    Gilroy (Santa Clara County) does require all dogs (and cats) to be licensed, people just choose not to do so. There is a fine if anyone is caught, but the city (county) has no one to enforce the law.

  • overtaxed citizen posted at 10:06 am on Fri, Jul 20, 2012.

    overtaxed citizen Posts: 38

    Gilroy should require dog licenses. The revenue could be used for safety education and law enforcement.

  • carol R wharton posted at 9:49 pm on Wed, Jul 18, 2012.

    carol R wharton Posts: 7

    reading this story about the pitbull dog, well it's the owner responsiblty for the animal and why was't on a leash so I would say it's a crime and a violation I mean it killed a little dog somebody else dog at that so why should he get away with it no make him pay. I love animals but they need to be on a leash and the owner should be responsible for his own.

  • gilroylocal posted at 11:57 am on Wed, Jul 18, 2012.

    gilroylocal Posts: 61

    How about the Dispatch list the name and address of the pit owner and the community can take care of him!

  • Jaloney posted at 9:50 pm on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    Jaloney Posts: 2

    Since when is irresponsiblity upheld by law? Hit and run drivers are arrested immediately. Do we need a Maul and dash law to help pitbull owners be responsible? Yes we do.
    The it's the owner not the breed mantra sounds logical but it's not. This repetitive slogan is illogical. Other dog breeds owned in much greater numbers have equal chances of getting neglectful and abusive owners, yet they adapt to human shortcomings and don't maul people or pets at anywhere near the rate that pitbulls do. Labs are routinely forgotten and chained in backyards and they are the most popular dog breed in America, Labs are not the top killers, pitbull are. Beagles are routinely penned up in backyards and ignored. They are given no human socialization but they do not pose any threat to humans when they get loose.
    Most dog bites are nothing more than a minor annoyance, as they rarely break the skin. This is why you don't hear about them on the news. If a normal dog is in a fight it will fight until the opponent submits and then stop. Pitbulls don't bite, They maul. They do not stop when the victim submits, they keep on mauling until the pet or human is left in parts. The other problem with pitbulls is that they are extremely strong, and were bred to have fewer pain receptors, and are able to keep breathing while attacking. This makes it extremely hard for people to stop a pitbull attack in progress. News stories are full of stories of strong men being mauled and three or more men being unable to get a pitbull to let go of its victim.
    Mortality, Maiming and Mauling by Vicious Dogs, Annals of Surgery, April 2011, is study of dog injuries in hospitals spanning the last 15 years. The study found that you have a more than 2500 times higher chance of dying if attacked by a pitbull. In addition it found that pitbulls caused the highest hospital charges, and the most deaths, dismemberments, permanent disability, and disfigurement of all breeds. The study also found that pitbulls attack children, and owners much more often than other breeds AND IT IS FAMILY LOVED AND UNABUSED PITBULLS THAT ARE MAULING PEOPLE. Despite be given all the love and care that other dogs enjoy, pitbulls turn suddenly and the owners are always shocked by the sudden change in behavior. Alexandra Semyonova, a world reknown animal researcher and author of the book, The 100 Silliest Things People say About Dogs, says pitbulls have a disconnect between the thinking and impulse control centers in the brain and a different chemical make up in the brain. Just as you can't see a gene that suddenly turns on cancer, you can't see the gene that is suddenly activated in a pitbull making them violent. I personally know of several people who had a pitbull turn on them after years of normal behavior. Personal accounts of owners who had "nice" pitbulls doesn't mean that pitbulls are not dangerous. This again is illogical. The statistics on pitbulls seriously harming people at a much higher rate than other dogs are overwhelming. You can't love out genes or untrain genes. Family owned and loved pitbulls can turn on a dime. If you believe that ptbulls are just like any other dog, and regurgitate the false "its the owner not the breed mantra" you would of believed the world was flat, too Just because something sounds good doesn't make it true. http://walkforvictimsofpitbulls.blogspot.com/

  • dgreenin408 posted at 7:17 pm on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    dgreenin408 Posts: 5

    Who is the owner of the dog? Garcia, Martinez.......? Gilroy has so many desirable qualities, but the same crowd has to mess it up for the rest of us. I guess they have to live somewhere and they are being run out of San Jose and Morgan Hill.

  • Thermopylae posted at 10:46 am on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    Thermopylae Posts: 88

    If you keep in mind that gang members and wanabes are a protected class in Gilroy it is no surprise that the police or politicians are not going to go after the owner.

  • New Kid In Town posted at 10:39 am on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    New Kid In Town Posts: 62

    Shame on the pet owner(s), Both as I understand were unleashed. However the card my lie, The State Law is the Law. it's well past time to change it.

    As for the lack of an arrest here. I shame the authority for not being more objective in this case.

    Bring in the NEW in November people!

  • Polital posted at 9:55 am on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    Polital Posts: 27

    This is ridiculous the owner should be held responsible.

  • LiberalsRstupid posted at 9:35 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    LiberalsRstupid Posts: 294

    City of Gilroy is a 3rd World country... The animals are running the assylum. Need anymore proof?

  • DDub posted at 9:13 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    DDub Posts: 34

    I guess this is a green light to anyone who wants to assault someone. Just sick your pit bull on them and run away and no worries about facing charges. This is ridiculous.

  • KingNicholas2 posted at 8:27 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    KingNicholas2 Posts: 411

    Al Pinheiro opening his mouth, making an [donkey] of himself again. Good riddance in November! We can all be thankful for term limits!

  • macgregor posted at 7:30 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    macgregor Posts: 15

    You flee the scene, while your dog goes to town on both another dog and its owner? If that's not a crime, it should be! Unless the man was running to get help, as far as I'm concerned, it's about the same thing as fleeing the scene of an accident.