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Rebuttal

The SASA release on Turbos case and euthanization:

On March 28, 2020, a male gray and white pit bull mix knocked a SASA employee to the ground, charged the employee’s face, and bit off a portion of her ear. A rescue organization claimed the dog and SASA filed a petition to have the dog determined to be a vicious dog. After a 5-hour administrative hearing in front of a neutral hearing officer, the hearing officer issued an order declaring the animal to be a vicious dog and authorizing the humane euthanasia of the animal. The hearing officer found that the dog in question was likely to attack another human and such an attack could conceivably result in the death of that individual.  The rescue appealed the decision and the Honorable John Freeland of the Stanislaus Superior Court dismissed the appeal. Approximately one week after the Court filed the final order of dismissal, the animal was humanely euthanized in accordance with the hearing officer’s order.

 

 

Let's break it down for the truth.



On March 28, 2020, a male gray and white pit bull mix knocked a SASA employee to the ground, charged the employee’s face, and bit off a portion of her ear. 

 

-The employee testified that she lost her balance and fell to the ground.  The dog had been confined in his pen for weeks due to Covid shutdown and she took him into the yard, alone , and against shelter protocol.  There was another unneutered male in the adjacent yard, further exciting the Dog and causing the employee to fall.  There was no "charging" as the employee fell onto/next to the dog resulting in his reaction.  There is no evidence he bit other than a small injury on her ear that required NO STITCHES.  She testified herself that it was a "scratch" and returned to work the very same day. She also testified that she swung at the dog prior to the claimed injury. The injury could very well have been caused by a paw while the employee was on the ground.

 

A rescue organization claimed the dog and SASA filed a petition to have the dog determined to be a vicious dog. 

 

-according to Food and Agriculture Section 31108 "any stray dog that is impounded pursuant to this division shall, before the euthanasia of that animal, be released to a nonprofit, as defined in Section 501 (c)3 of the IRS Code, animal rescue or adoption organization if requested by the organization before the scheduled euthanasia of that animal.  The public or private shelter may enter into cooperative agreements with any animal rescue or adoption organization."  Three different organizations offered to take Turbo, satisfying Section 31108.

 

After a 5-hour administrative hearing in front of a neutral hearing officer, the hearing officer issued an order declaring the animal to be a vicious dog and authorizing the humane euthanasia of the animal. 

 

 -The "neutral" hearing officer was paid $700 directly from the shelter (link to invoice).  He is a bankruptcy attorney who referred to the employee as a "hero" in the Statement of Decision. . This "neutral hearing officer" was unilaterally chosen by the shelter. Potential evidence suggests that this “neutral hearing officer” acted inappropriately by:  (1) doing work for the shelter on a regular and routine basis; (2) failing to disclose the potential bias created by the regular and routine assignments by the shelter; (3) engaging in ex parte communications with the shelter; (4) accepting documents relevant to the case before the trial; and, (5) taking direction from shelter representatives on substantive issues on matters pending before him. .Reasonable minds would question partiality given these facts.

 

 

The hearing officer found that the dog in question was likely to attack another human and such an attack could conceivably result in the death of that individual.  

 

-The dog was admitted to the shelter as "green" meaning "friendly" by Animal Control Officers with vastly more experience than the bankruptcy attorney (by trade) hearing officer.  This assumption is a grossly uninformed assessment of the dog. In fact, another employee played fetch with the dog just days before euthanasia. (link fetch video).  Turbo was also being promoted on the SASA website as an adoptable dog for their St Patrick’s day feature, as noted in his photo, yet his handlers opinion of his good behavior that day was not heard at trial.

-In addition to the untrained assessment by the bankruptcy attorney hearing officer, SASA relied upon expert,Kelly Bollen, who never met the dog in question.  She did not meet, interact, give commands nor touch Turbo.  Yet video of his assessment by a trainer hired by the rescue (link) showed Turbo was dog reactive, but clearly not human aggressive. 

 

The rescue appealed the decision and the Honorable John Freeland of the Stanislaus Superior Court dismissed the appeal. 

 

-This is untrue.  The appeal was never heard. 

County counsel filed to dismiss the appeal based upon a technicality, which was the timing of the filing of the notice of appeal. The appeal was never heard or decided on its merits. 

-In addition to new filing Covid procedures and limitations, the euthanasia decision was mailed late on a Friday before a long weekend, further delaying the appeal deadline.  Hardly fair due process.

 

Approximately one week after the Court filed the final order of dismissal, the animal was humanely euthanized in accordance with the hearing officer’s order.

 

-The final order was give June 17 as Court ruled that the appeal should have been placed in a drop box due to Covid procedures, rather than deliver to a clerk.  Turbos case was not even heard by the Judge.  While a final Writ of appeal was being prepared (      ), rescue, donors and attorneys were preparing a settlement offer and a hold harmless agreement to benefit the Shelter and save Turbos life.  Shelter Director, Annette Patton is reported to have guaranteed Turbos safety "happily" while the Writ was being prepared (email below). Yet on July 2, employee #121 euthanized Turbo.  Despite all the efforts and measures that were taken by dozens of people to assist the Shelter and spare Turbos life, despite repeated attempts to contact the Shelter and Counsel, it was not until July 9th that the rescue community was advised of Turbos Fate by this terse and dubious release.

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