Animal Law

Calif. Judge Ponders Whether Pit Bull That Bit Cop, Chased Police Horse 1.6 Miles Should Be Put Down


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An unneutered, unleashed male pit bull reportedly made a beeline for a mounted National Park Service police officer as the dog was out running with his owner on Aug. 6 in Crissy Field in the San Francisco area.

The dog, known as Charlie, bit the boot of the officer, Eric Evans, and the front leg of the police horse, known as Stoney. The horse reared and threw Evans, who hit his head, momentarily losing consciousness, a police report recounts. And then the dog chased the riderless horse, continuing to nip and bite it, as it galloped over 1.6 miles through The Presidio toward its stable. The chase concluded only after another park police officer on a motorcycle scared the dog away with his siren and air horn, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Charlie’s owner, David Gizzarelli, was charged with assault on a police officer, assault on a police horse and failing to restrain a pet. He was released on his own recognizance and could not be reached for comment. Meanwhile, his pet, who is being held by San Francisco animal control, got a death sentence, despite being neutered in the meantime.

Gizzarelli is appealing an Aug. 28 city order, which declared Charlie a “vicious and dangerous” dog, and a state superior court judge on Tuesday stayed the animal’s euthanasia until he can further review the case. A hearing is expected to be held within a few weeks, according to the newspaper.

Gizzarelli has retained a lawyer, Christine Garcia, and she blames what she claims was an inexperienced, poorly trained police horse for the Aug. 6 incident. She also calls into question both whether the city has the authority to put down the dog and whether Charlie actually bit Evans.

“It was his second day working,” said Garcia of Stoney. “I believe that when a working horse encounters a dog that the response from the horse should just be to stand still and remain calm. I believe that a horse trained to work in public wouldn’t be as skittish and wouldn’t fight.”

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