City of Arcata to decide if OG the pit bull is dangerous

The initial bite in a photo taken at the hospital the day of the alleged attack. Submitted photo

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.

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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.

A photo reportedly taken the day after the attack, with painful bruising of the punctured leg muscle. Submitted photo

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.

Thank you,
Rebecca Katz

 

The landlord's plea

9/9/2020
Dear City of Arcata & Sheriff Honsal,
RE: Case #20 - 1779 Arcata Police Dept.
My husband, Chris Morse, and I are the Landlords at 2125 Heather Ln., Arcata, CA 95521 where Emily Lynn resides and where she was attacked by a vicious PIT BULL on 9/6/20 from the neighboring apt. #4 at 2105 Heather Ln.
I have made NUMEROUS calls & reports in the past to the City Police, to Real Property Management in Arcata and the property owner about the criminal and drug activity at 2105 Heather Ln. & Apt. #4 in particular.
(There was a shooting in the apt. building about a year and a half ago over drug dealing.) I’ve also reported the unlicensed & abandoned cars parked in the back, the garbage & the people living and dealing drugs in and out of a trailer marked Grant Construction and a large RV parked in the back yard with extension cord leading into Apt. #4.
I reported my tenant's complaints to the Arcata Police on June 22, 2020 and I filed an official REPORT OF POSSIBLE CITY CODE VIOLATION on July 20, 2020 regarding DANGEROUS & UNSTABLE RESIDENTS, DOGS  & CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. There should also be a record of the police going to 2105 Apt. #4 and talking to the dog owner and giving him notice about the concerns regarding its aggressive behavior.
According to the management company, the tenants at 2105 Heather Ln. Apt. #4 have not paid rent in a year, but still they live in our great neighborhood and terrorize my tenants and the neighbors with their vicious attack dog, a powerful and untrained PIT BULL.
Here’s what my tenants say about their encounters with the dog next door and its owner:

"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)

"The pit bull began to attack us as we walked our small dog and it was so powerful and unruly that the owner had to literally wrest it to the ground to stop it." 
– (My Tenant in Apt. #4)
"Hi Kathleen, I just called and left a message on your phone. We have had some trouble with the neighbors dog attacking us. They are claiming that they have been getting notes on their car about being towed and retaliated this morning by leaving a note on my car. When we went over to try and discuss the situation we were greeted by being attacked by the dog followed by a lot of yelling from the young man who lives there... Please see the attached photo. I would really like to have some resolution here. Please give me a call back at your earliest convenience."  
 – (My Tenant in Apt. #3)

The note. Submitted photo

I DO NOT want this Pit Bull to return to the neighborhood in a week after it’s been quarantined.
It is a DANGEROUS and UNRULY animal that the victim, Emily, told me in no uncertain terms was trained to attack.  Her encounter with this dog was almost a FATAL ONE.
In the interest of Public Safety, we need the City and the County to act and have this dog put down so it will not attack again.  It is clearly a PUBLIC NUISANCE.
Next month, two of my four apartments will be empty as tenants are moving because they fear for their safety and have put up with too much disturbance and danger over the past year. I lost another tenant a year ago for the same reason.
Thank you,
Kathleen Stanton
Landlord and Property Owner

The meeting

PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE Determination of Dangerous Dog Hearing

PUBLIC ADVISORY: THE COUNCIL CHAMBER IN CITY HALL WILL NOT BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

COVID-19 NOTICE

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.

  1. Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: Please use this URL:https://zoom.us/j/98123311869
  2. 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:

  1. *67 1-669-900-6833
  2. Enter Meeting ID: 981 2331 1869
  3. 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)Share

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.

Sec. 5203.1 Notice of Hearing, Determination. (Ord. 1365, eff. 9/14/2007)Share

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.

Sec. 5203.2 Notice of Determination. (Ord. 1365, eff. 9/14/2007)Share

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.

Sec. 5203.3 Appeal. (Ord. 1365, eff. 9/14/2007)Share

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.

Sec. 5203.4 Effect of Failure to Appear at Hearing. (Ord. 1365, eff. 9/14/2007)Share

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.

Sec. 5203.5 Finality of Appeal. (Ord. 1365, eff. 9/14/2007)Share

The determination of the court hearing the appeal shall be final and conclusive upon all parties.

Sec. 5203.6 Seizure and Immediate Impoundment—Threat to Safety. (Ord. 1365, eff. 9/14/2007)Share

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)Share

(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.







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