In response to inquiries regarding a dangerous animal case being handled by the City of Elk Grove, the City provides the following information regarding the facts of the case.
On May 16, 2022, the Elk Grove Police Department received a call from an individual who had been attacked by a German Shepherd dog. The report stated that the victim was out for his daily lunch break walk around his residential neighborhood. The victim was on the public sidewalk when a dog exited a vehicle parked in a driveway approximately 10 feet away, charged the victim, biting him on the back of his right leg. When the victim tried to move away, the dog bit the victim again on the other leg. The victim was treated in the emergency room for his injuries, and reported pain in his legs, and difficulty sitting, working, sleeping, and engaging in other normal activities that continued days after the attack.
As a result of this attack, on May 25, 2022, the City designated the dog as dangerous, as provided for by state law and the Elk Grove Municipal Code. The dog’s owner exercised her right to administratively appeal that designation, and, following a hearing on that appeal, the administrative hearing officer upheld the City’s dangerous animal designation. The dog’s owner had the legal right and opportunity to appeal that administrative decision and determination to the Sacramento County Superior Court, and was noticed of that right, but did not timely do so. She, therefore, waived any right to appeal the dangerous animal designation, which became final.
The dangerous animal designation allowed the dog’s owner to continue to own the dangerous animal, but required her to comply with certain dangerous animal regulations, such as muzzling the dog and controlling it on a short (3’) leash when it is off the owner’s property, enrolling the dangerous animal in an obedience class to address the animal’s behavior, and maintaining public liability insurance to cover any injury, death, loss or damage that may result from any act of the dangerous animal. The City’s Municipal Code and the administrative decision upholding the dangerous animal designation required the dog’s owner to prove compliance with those regulations within 30 days of the May 25, 2022, notice of designation (i.e., by June 24, 2022). The City gave the dog’s owner an additional three weeks to demonstrate compliance, and notified her that the final inspection would take place on July 15, 2022. Leading up to the final inspection, the City contacted the dog’s owner to inquire if she had any questions related to the dangerous animal regulations. The dog’s owner stated she did not, and that she would be ready to demonstrate compliance on July 15.
During the final inspection on July 15, 2022, the dog’s owner was unable to demonstrate full compliance with the dangerous animal regulations. She did not demonstrate that she owned a muzzle or short control leash for the dog, that the dangerous animal was enrolled in obedience training, or that she carried the required public liability insurance to protect the public from any harm caused by her dangerous animal. As a result, the City was authorized by law to impound the dangerous animal. The owner brought the dangerous animal onto the public sidewalk, and, unable to control her dog, the dangerous animal attacked and bit a Police Officer who was standing peaceably by, in the street. The force of the dog’s bite tore through the Police Officer’s uniform pants, and wounded the Officer’s leg, drawing blood. This incident was recorded on the Officers’ Body Worn Cameras, which has been released along with the footage from the entire incident that day.
To protect the public welfare and safety, the law provides that a dangerous animal must be humanely euthanized if the owner fails to timely comply with the dangerous animal regulations, or if it attacks, bites, causes injury, or otherwise threatens the safety of a person. Both of the violations occurred in this case, and the dog’s owner was cited for those violations.
The dog’s owner administratively appealed those cited violations. An administrative hearing was held on that appeal, where the dog’s owner was represented by an attorney. Following the administrative hearing, the administrative hearing officer upheld the violations, which were supported, in part, by the testimony offered by the dog owner’s expert witness who testify on the owner’s behalf.
It’s important to note that both administrative hearings were conducted by independent, neutral, and outside entities.
Following the administrative decision and order which authorized the humane euthanasia of the dangerous animal, the City provided the dog’s owner with notice of the intended date for euthanasia to allow the owner time to seek a stay or other interim judicial relief of the administrative order. Represented by an attorney, the dog’s owner filed a lawsuit against the City with a request to the Sacramento County Superior Court to stay the administrative decision and order, and the humane euthanasia of the dangerous animal. The Court denied the owner’s request for a stay. Through her attorney, the dog owner filed a separate court action attempting to appeal the administrative decisions. That appeal was dismissed by the Sacramento County Superior Court. Through her attorney, the owner filed an additional and separate federal lawsuit against the City. On September 28, 2022, the federal court issued an order denying the owner’s request to stay the euthanasia of the dangerous animal.
The City understands and acknowledges the concerns this case raises. However, the City’s primary objective in this case, and in all other cases involving dangerous animals, is to protect the safety of the public, particularly in a case such as this where an unprovoked dangerous animal has attacked individuals, causing injuries, on multiple separate occasions.
Images show injuries sustained by an Elk Grove resident on May 16, 2022. The City designated the dog as dangerous on May 25, 2022 as a result of this attack.
View the body worn camera footage in its entirety on the Elk Grove Police Department's YouTube page.
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