Mad River Union
ARCATA – The City of Arcata will hold a rare "Dangerous Dog" hearing next Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. The purpose of the hearing will be to determine whether OG, a 3-year-old pit bull terrier, is potentially dangerous, vicious or a nuisance, and subject to seizure by the city.
The dog has already been impounded pending the hearing, and resides at the Humboldt County Animal Shelter. If determined to be vicious or dangerous, OG may be taken from its owner by the city and permanently removed from the neighborhood.
Og's fate became a law enforcement matter following an alleged Sept. 6 attack on Heather Lane resident Emily Lynn, documented below in correspondence forwarded to the Arcata City Council by the victim's mother, Rebecca Katz. The attack left the victim with a painful bite to the leg, which damaged muscle tissue.
"She has suffered physical and mental trauma due to this attack," Katz wrote of her daughter. "She in no way provoked this attack, and was literally just walking into the back area of her own apartment, when the dog not only broke its chain, but its leash to attack her."
Katz has since retained an attorney, and declined further comment.
The alleged victim's landlord, Kathleen Stanton, has campaigned for the dog's seizure with pleas to the city and Arcata Police (see below). The dog's owner, Joshua Spaulding, couldn't be reached for comment.
"Regardless of either determination, the dog will NOT be put down despite the fact that it bit another person in December, 2019," Stanton said. "I can barely belief that a vicious Pit Bull who has attacked two people that we know of & has an owner that can’t control the dog will still be in the community!"
Stanton quoted other tenants describing negative encounters with the dog and its owner (see below).
Below, the victim's mother's description of events, the landlord's correspondence to the City of Arcata, the notice of the special hearing and the relevant Arcata Municipal Code regulations.
The mother's account
To Whom It May Concern, September 8th, 2020
On September 6th 2020, my daughter Emily Lynn was viciously attacked by a pit bull living in her neighbor's home at 2105 Heather Lane Apartment 4 in the city of Arcata, Calif.
She has suffered physical and mental trauma due to this attack. She in no way provoked this attack, and was literally just walking into the back area of her own apartment, when the dog not only broke its chain, but its leash to attack her.
She was taken to the emergency room where the four puncture wounds were cleaned, she was given antibiotics, and she received a tetanus shot. She gave a police report at the hospital and the case number for that report is 20-1779.
The dog was taken back to quarantine at the apartment, until my daughter's landlord Kathleen Stanton and I made calls to the police today asking that the dog be taken to the animal shelter for quarantine and not left in the same place while Emily was right next door. The police obliged, but the dog will be returned in 8 days to the same location, unless we can convince the city that the dog is a nuisance and should be removed permanently.
My daughter is petrified. Also, these people and their dog are a nuisance in the neighborhood, with an abundance of cars being worked on in their backyard, a track record of crimes that were mentioned to me by the police department, and a vicious dog that has had multiple complaints, yet nothing is being done about their eviction.
My daughter just moved in there last week, and now is terrified in her own home. Something must be done, Emily is suffering daily with intense pain from the injury, as well as mental anguish from the attack.
I have attached my number for further questions along with pictures of Emily’s bites.
Please do something to quickly evict these tenants.
The landlord's plea
"I believe it was in June and Spencer and I went over there to confront them about a note they left on Spencer's car about parking. Before we could get to the door we noticed it was open and yelled to the guys and was confronted by the barking, biting dog. I pushed Spencer out of the way and I had to kick it in the face/chest area 2-3 times to keep it from attacking me. The guy ran from behind the house to restrain the dog and then proceeded to walk away arguing."
– (My Tenant in Apt #3)
PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE Determination of Dangerous Dog Hearing
PUBLIC ADVISORY: THE COUNCIL CHAMBER IN CITY HALL WILL NOT BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Consistent with Executive Orders N-25-20 and N-29-20 from the Executive Department of the State of California and the Humboldt County Public Health Officer’s March 19, 2020, Shelter- in-Place Order, the Determination of Dangerous Dog Hearing location will not be physically open to the public and the Hearing Officer will be teleconferencing into the hearing via Zoom Video Communications.
How to Observe and Participate in the Meeting:
Members of the public may access the Zoom meeting directly to observe the meeting.
- Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: Please use this URL:https://zoom.us/j/98123311869
- If you do not wish for your name to appear on the screen, then use the drop down menu and click on “rename” to rename yourself to be anonymous.
Or join by phone:
- *67 1-669-900-6833
- Enter Meeting ID: 981 2331 1869
- NOTE: Your phone number will appear on the screen unless you first dial star (*) 67before dialing the numbers as shown above.
Americans with Disabilities Act Accommodations:
Any member of the public who needs accommodations should email the City Clerk at [email protected] or by calling (707) 822-5953. The City Clerk will use their best efforts to provide reasonable accommodations to provide as much accessibility as possible while maintaining public health and safety.
Dangerous Dog Hearing
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 at 10:00 am
Location: Teleconference via Zoom Video Communications (https://zoom.us/j/98123311869).
Notice is hereby given that the City of Arcata will conduct a Public Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, Teleconference via Zoom Video Communications.
The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether a dog is a vicious or a potentially dangerous dog pursuant to Arcata Municipal Code 5203.
The subject dog is “OG”, and is owned by Joshua Spaulding at 2105 #4 Heather Lane.
If you have any questions concerning this Notice of Hearing, please contact the Hearing Officer, Lieutenant Todd Dokweiler, at the Arcata Police Department, (707)822-2428.
The Arcata Municipal Code
Sec. 5203 Procedure for Declaring a Dog Potentially Dangerous, Vicious or a Nuisance. (Ord. 1365, eff. 9/14/2007)
If an Animal Control Officer or a law enforcement officer has investigated and determined that there exists probable cause to believe that a dog is potentially dangerous, vicious or a nuisance, the Animal Control Officer, or his or her designee, shall petition the Police Chief, or his or her appointee, for a hearing for the purpose of determining whether or not the dog in question should be declared Potentially Dangerous, Vicious, or a Public Nuisance. Whenever possible, any complaint received from a member of the public which serves as the evidentiary basis for the animal control officer or law enforcement officer to find probable cause shall be sworn to and verified by the complainant and shall be attached to the petition. The Police Chief or his or her designee shall notify the Owner or Keeper of the dog that a hearing will be held by the City, at which time he or she may present evidence as to why the dog should not be declared Potentially Dangerous, Vicious, or a Public Nuisance. Said evidence may be offered either written or oral by the Owner of the dog or any interested citizen, including Animal Control Officers, humane officers or peace officers, and shall be sworn to and/or signed under declaration of penalty of perjury.
The Owner or Keeper of the dog shall be served with notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition, either personally or by first-class mail with return receipt requested. The hearing shall be held promptly within no less than five (5) working days nor more than ten (10) working days after service of notice upon the owner or keeper of the dog. The hearing shall be open to the public. The Hearing Entity may admit into evidence all relevant evidence, including incident reports and the affidavits of witnesses, limit the scope of discovery, and may shorten the time to produce records or witnesses. The Hearing Entity may find, upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the dog is Potentially Dangerous, Vicious, or a Public Nuisance, and make other orders authorized by this Article.
After the hearing conducted pursuant to Section 5203.1, the Owner or Keeper of the dog shall be notified in writing of the determination and orders issued, either personally or by first-class mail, postage prepaid, by the Hearing Entity. If a determination is made that the dog is Potentially Dangerous, Vicious, or a Public Nuisance, the Owner or Keeper shall comply with the provisions of this Article in accordance with a time schedule established by the Chief of Police or his or her designee, but in no case more than thirty (30) days after the date of the determination or thirty-five (35) days if notice of the determination is mailed to the Owner or Keeper of the dog.
If the petitioner or the Owner or Keeper of the dog contests the determination of the Hearing Entity, he or she may, within five (5) days of receipt of the notice of determination, appeal the decision of the Hearing Entity to the Humboldt County Superior Court pursuant to Food and Agricultural Code § 31622. The party seeking the appeal shall serve personally or by first-class mail, postage prepaid, notice of the appeal upon the other party within two (2) days of the filing of the notice of appeal.
The Hearing Entity may decide all issues for or against the Owner or Keeper of the dog even if the Owner or Keeper fails to appear at the hearing.
The determination of the court hearing the appeal shall be final and conclusive upon all parties.
If upon investigation it is determined by the Animal Control Officer or law enforcement officer that probable cause exists to believe the dog in question poses an immediate threat to public safety, the Animal Control Officer or law enforcement officer may seize and impound the dog pending the hearing or determination provided for in Sections 5203.1 and 5203.2. The Owner or Keeper of the dog shall be liable to the City for the costs and expenses of keeping the dog if the dog is later determined to be Potentially Dangerous or Vicious. If public safety is adequately assured, the Animal Control Officer may permit the dog to be confined at the owner’s expense in an approved kennel or veterinary facility or on the Owner’s premises.
Sec. 5203.7 When Dogs May Not Be Declared Potentially Dangerous, Vicious or a Public Nuisance. (Ord. 1365, eff. 9/14/2007)
(a) No dog may be declared Potentially Dangerous, Vicious, or a Public Nuisance if any injury or damage is sustained by a person who, at the time the injury or damage was sustained, was committing a willful trespass or other tort upon premises occupied by the Owner or Keeper of the dog, or was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog, or was committing or attempting to commit a crime. No dog may be declared Potentially Dangerous, Vicious or a Public Nuisance if the dog was protecting or defending a person within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or assault. No dog may be declared Potentially Dangerous, Vicious or a Public Nuisance if an injury or damage was sustained by a domestic animal, which, at the time the injury or damage was sustained, was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog.
(b) No dog may be declared Potentially Dangerous, Vicious or a Public Nuisance if the injury or damage to a domestic animal was sustained while the dog was working as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog on the property of, or under the control of, its Owner or Keeper, and the damage or injury was to a species or type of domestic animal appropriate to the work of the dog.