DETAILS FROM THE ELK GROVE POLICE DEPARTMENT
The German Shepherd dog known as Zeus, who was designated as a dangerous animal, was humanely euthanized earlier today [10/28/22] by the City of Elk Grove consistent with a previously issued administrative order.
This has been a difficult situation for all involved in this matter, and the City does not take this action lightly.
The City takes its duty to preserve public safety and protect the community very seriously. While some members of the public asked the City to consider alternatives to euthanasia, the dog’s established bite history and dangerous propensities presented too great of a risk to public safety for this community, or any other community to which the animal may have been relocated.
The process that led to today’s action began following the first unprovoked attack on a resident on May 16, 2022. Two administrative hearings were conducted by two separate independent hearing officers on June 8, 2022, and August 15, 2022. The first hearing officer confirmed that the dog was properly designated as a dangerous animal and imposed keeping restrictions for the animal. The second hearing officer concluded that the owner failed to comply with mandated keeping restrictions, that the dog bit a police officer, and ordered the dangerous animal to be humanely euthanized. The courts have consistently ruled in favor of the City in a number of legal challenges on this issue. The City delayed euthanasia of the animal for almost two months to allow time for the owner to pursue judicial remedies with the courts, but efforts by the owner in both state and federal court for a stay of the euthanasia or other related relief have been unsuccessful. Continued housing of the dangerous animal was not in the public or the animal’s interest. The humane euthanasia of the dangerous animal was necessary and appropriate in this instance.
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CITY OF ELK GROVE:
Public Statement Regarding Dangerous Animal 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.
CITY OF ELK GROVE: Dangerous Animal Incident Timeline
- May 16, 2022: The first attack on a City resident, causing injury.
- May 25, 2022: The City’s Animal Services staff designated the dog as dangerous.
- June 8, 2022: The dog’s owner was afforded an administrative hearing before an independent hearing officer, and she was provided notice and an opportunity to be heard. She submitted a written statement in support of her position, which was considered by the hearing officer.
- June 15, 2022: Taking into account the evidence submitted by the City and the dog’s owner, the hearing officer issued a decision, confirming the dog as dangerous and confirming keeping requirements for dangerous animals as provided by applicable law. The hearing officer’s decision provided that those keeping requirements be met within 30 days of the notice of designating the animal as dangerous, consistent with applicable law. The owner had the right to appeal that decision to the California Superior Court, but she failed to timely file such appeal, thereby waiving her right to appeal.
- July 15, 2022: The City’s Animal Services staff conducted a compliance inspection and concluded that the owner failed to comply with the mandated keeping restrictions and impounded the dangerous animal. While the owner was bringing the animal to the City Animal Services vehicle, the owner lost control of the dog, and it attacked and bit an Elk Grove Police Officer who was on scene, causing injury.
- August 15, 2022: A second administrative hearing was held before a different independent hearing officer concerning the alleged violations of the dangerous animal keeping requirements. The owner had notice and an opportunity to be heard at the administrative proceeding, and she was represented by her attorney at that proceeding.
- September 6, 2022: Following receipt and review of evidence and argument by all sides, including written briefing by the parties, the second hearing officer concluded that the owner failed to comply with the mandated keeping restrictions and ordered the dangerous animal to be humanely euthanized. The City delayed euthanizing the animal to no earlier than September 16, 2022 to allow the owner time to pursue judicial remedies with the courts, should she wish to seek a stay the euthanasia order
- September 14, 2022: The state court denied the owner’s request for stay of the euthanasia order.
- September 21, 2022: The state court dismissed a second lawsuit filed by the owner. Upon dismissal of the second case, the City agreed to a stipulated order staying euthanasia of the dangerous animal until September 23, 2022, to allow the owner additional time to pursue further remedies, as she saw fit. The owner then filed a lawsuit in federal court.
- September 22, 2022: The federal court initially granted a temporary restraining order preventing the animal’s euthanasia until September 28, 2022, pending briefing from the parties.
- September 28, 2022: The federal court issued a new order denying the owner’s request for any further temporary restraining order.
- October 6, 2022: The state court denied a request for release of the dog.
- October 17, 2022: The state court denied a further request for release of the dog.
- October 28, 2022: The state court denied the owner’s request to set aside the dismissal in the case dismissed on September 21, 2022 (see entry above).
- October 28, 2022: The dangerous animal known by its owner as Zeus was humanely euthanized by the City of Elk Grove consistent with a previously issued administrative order.
*all images are video grabs or provided images from the Elk Grove Police Department and The City of Elk Grove
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