Legal battle brews over whether to euthanize ‘dangerous’ Elk Grove dog with history of bites

ELK GROVE – Elk Grove Animal Services has removed a woman’s dog after being bitten twice.

According to Animal Services, on May 16, Elk Grove police received a call from a man who was bitten twice by a dog while walking around the neighborhood during his lunch break.

The victim was treated in the emergency room and was eventually sent home, still in pain. nine days later, the city designated the dog as dangerous.

The dangerous animal designation, according to Animal Services, is defined as follows:

Allow the dog’s owner to continue owning the dangerous animal, but require them to comply with certain dangerous animal regulations, such as muzzling the dog and controlling it with a short (3′) leash when off of the owner’s property, enroll the animal dangerous dog in an obedience class to address the animal’s behavior, and maintain liability insurance to cover any injury, death, loss, or damage that may result from any act of the dangerous animal.

The owner then appealed, a hearing was held and the administrative hearing officer confirmed the dangerous animal designation.

Animal Services says the owner was given the opportunity to appeal the administrative ruling and decision to Sacramento Superior Court, but did not do so “in a timely manner.” Consequently, she waived her right to appeal the designation, which became final.

The ruling required the owner to prove compliance with the regulations within 30 days of the May 25 notice. The city says it gave her an additional three weeks and informed her that the final inspection would be on July 15. Prior to the final inspection, the city contacted the owner to ask if they had any final questions; she said no and that she would be ready on July 15th.

Upon final inspection, Animal Services said they were unable to demonstrate full compliance. Therefore, the city was now authorized by law to seize and euthanize the dog. The dog was then taken outside by the owner, but she could not control him and he bit a police officer.

Following a new administrative hearing, the owner lost her appeal and the violations were upheld. The dog owner’s attorney responded by filing a lawsuit against the city asking the Sacramento County Superior Court to suspend euthanasia.

The claim was denied and the owner filed a separate lawsuit to try to appeal the decision. This appeal was dismissed.

The owner has now filed an additional, separate federal lawsuit against the city, which is pending.

Animal Services says that in a September 22 court order, the judge said he had “reservations on the merits of the dog owner’s case” but to maintain the status quo. He chose to issue a temporary restraining order suspending euthanasia.


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Jennifer R. Strohm