Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – OG the pit bull was determined to be vicious at a Wednesday, Oct. 3 online hearing conducted by Arcata Police Lt. Todd Dokweiler.
The dog was impounded at the Humboldt County Animal Shelter after being seized following a which left a Heather Lane neighbor with a serious bite injury to her leg. The owner may now appeal the decision via the courts.
“I’m not giving up on my dog,” said owner Josh Spaulding. “He’s not dangerous or vicious or anything.”
Witnesses’ testimony held otherwise. Neighbors and a landlord testified to several negative encounters with the pit bull, including one victim’s deep bite, which left her with a lingering fear of dogs.
Spaulding apologized for the attack, but said he didn’t know who had been in charge of the animal while he was in the hospital following a shooting. But APD Sgt. Brian Hoffman read from a police report that said Spaulding was present and contacted at the scene of the attack.
Another woman said that on Sept. 5, the dog barked, ran at her, bit her thigh and was pulled off, causing seven puncture wounds and severe bleeding. Spaulding apologized and walked away with OG (pronounced "Awg"), she said. She screamed for help, got none, then went home and was taken to the ER.
Her wound continued to bleed in ensuing days, with severe bruising and clogged blood vessels that required emergency surgery. The injury could leave lasting nerve damage, and may be disfiguring.
The incident left her with a loss of income, disrupted education and unease about leaving her home. “It’s been ongoing trauma,” she said.
Spaulding said he had only turned his back on the dog “for a second” when the attack occurred.
The dog witnessed Spaulding being shot, he said, and it was “over-protective of me.”
“He’s lovable as hell,” Spaulding said.
Landlady Kathleen Staton said she’s been trying to get the dog dealt with for months, pursuing the matter with police and a rental agency. She said some tenants moved from two of her rentals “due to the dog situation and the alleged criminal activity going on day and night” at Spaulding’s address, including the shooting.
Stanton described prior attacks, with the dog charging tenants and their dog and Spaulding struggling to control it.
“What I’m hearing is kind of a pattern of aggressive behavior by OG,” Hoffman said.
“People are petrified and we really don’t want this dog back in our neighborhood,” Stanton said. “We’re all very afraid.”
Spaulding claimed his dog had been attacked by the neighbors’ dog inciting the incident.
Hoffman said that “it was clearly demonstrated today that OG, under the lackluster care and responsibility exhibited by Mr. Spaulding, should appropriately be labeled a vicious dog,” whom the neighbors should be protected from.
With that determination, Hoffman said that to keep the animal, Spaulding must now observe Arcata Municipal Code section 5204.2, which requires him to maintain $100,000 liability insurance, post a vicious dog sign, maintain an enclosure and other requirements.
Spaulding said he plans to move the dog to his grandmother’s house. He insisted that OG isn’t vicious, but that “I see this as an opportunity to get him out of here.”
“I didn’t know dogs had courts,” Spaulding said.