Emails from Terri
The Hearing Officer for the SJ City Attorney made his ruling from the 6/24/09 hearing (the hearing the DA pursued after the criminal court ruling was not in their favor, due to lack of evidence). The Hearing Officer ruled that indeed, the pit bull Brutus, who attacked Steve & Bella on 4/11/08 was a “Dangerous Animal” on that day and fined the owner additional money. Assistant DA Marissa McKeown has spent countless hours working and researching this case, forwarding it to the City Attorney and working with Animal Services. She is truly a dedicated and hard working member of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, who never gave up and continued to pursue, as she initially promised, all appropriate avenues for justice. Also, good news, she tells me the DA office and her superiors continue to work with their staff and Animal Services to improve the current system and process. Hopefully, this won't have to happen to anyone else.
First of all, let me say thank you to so many of you who continue to call or email and check on Bella. We have not had a confirmed sighting in awhile, but our hope and faith are still very much alive she is out there. She will be returned to us when the time is right.
Steve and I were in court today for a prelim hearing. The outcome was the judge did not find sufficient evidence to issue a holding and felony charges were dropped. The judge spent some time talking about the law. He said this was a tragic event, which was inexcusable and underscored its preventability. However, from the standpoint of felony liability, the DA had to prove Animal Control had clearly made the defendant aware he had an aggressive dog, or prove it had bitten before. Regardless of what had happened in the previous attacks, Animal Control was not able to show they had clearly educated the defendant about the aggressive potential of his dog, even after 3 aggressive dog calls. This happened almost a year ago and they did not have an adequate paper trail or memory they could testify to. However, on a positive note, the judge said although the current law did not allow him to rule favorably in a criminal case, there were other avenues to pursue, such as municipal code violations, civil hearing, etc., that would be more appropriate within the current laws.
Also, the DA Marisa McKeown, who spent countless hours, along w/others in her office, researching and working on this case have not stopped. We cannot thank her or her office enough for all their efforts and genuine caring about this case. They are forwarding appropriate information to other entities. As well, we are all hoping to work together to help make an easier process for Animal Control and the DA to work together and hopefully change the laws and processes as needed for future cases. Another idea was to work together to change procedures and forms to better and easier provide officers with better historical data and documentation to make it safer for animals and people as well as for future cases. Steve and I are dedicated to helping with this in any way we can, so no other family will have to go thru what we have. Again, our goal is to help make the public understand that pet ownership is a responsibility and irresponsibility will not be tolerated and will have consequences. It may sound like a simple, common sense idea, but the legal system has to work within the confines of the laws as written today.
Steve's hand is still giving him problems. I am doing o.k. Hoping to go back to work soon, but still have some tests ahead. Sammy, who we are fostering, is healing well from his amputation and his back leg is still sore from the ortho surgery. He is quite different from Bella, a sweetheart just the same. Has us wrapped around his finger already. Wisdom in his eyes way beyond his 2 years. Since he is in an x-pen for a few months to heal except potty breaks on leash, he is bored, but Steve is keeping him entertained w/a kong, toys and chicken for dinner. This week he's coming off the injured list and adjusting to his "every day food" a little at a time. Our friends Pamela, Sherri and Mae brought him some treats and Cindy and Chris brought him some toys. When Chris opened the toy box, he sniffed a moment and then dove for the tennis ball. He is strong and if we can keep him down to get that back leg healed, he'll be quite the active guy and a great little brother to Bella when she returns. We can't thank all of you enough for donating towards his surgery when we all learned of him and literally saving his life. Well worth it and much appreciated. A big thanks to Red for coordinating Sammy’s trip to San Jose.
There are plenty of posters at front door if anyone wants to repost some areas on a nice day when going out for a bike ride or walk. We will keep this section of the website updated with any news on future happenings on the legal side. We may once again find ourselves in need of all of you folks who have given so generously of your time, to once again show up for a municipal hearing or voice your support in some of the ideas the DA has in simplifying the process for better record keeping in animal cases.
Thanks again for the continued support and help in bringing Bella home safely. Take care, all.
Terri & Steve Belsley
We had a possible sighting of Bella this week in the same area we believe she's been for weeks. A guy on his way to work nearby and was travelling north on Monterey Rd. towards San Jose around 1:30 pm. He spotted what he thought was initially a fox chasing birds thru the open fields of the IBM/Bailey Rd. area. Upon a closer look, he noticed the pointed ears and realized it was not a fox but a dog. This is the same area as before: Off Monterey Rd, between Bailey Rd and Metcalf Rd, on both sides of Monterey. She's been spotted on the Coyote Creek side, near the creek, parkway fishing and percolation ponds, and on the non-creek side in the open fields. Near metcalf is the easiest, safest, shortest spot to cross Monterey Rd, anywhere, as she seems to be going back and forth. She is one smart cookie, but avoiding people. In the meantime, I have the company w/the new trapping system on alert and if the sighting is certain, he is willing to proceed with this new underground trap that's worked well catching wildlife in other parts of the country . If this happens, we'll need some volunteers to help monitor the trap a few times a day.
That's all for now. Please continue to keep Steve, Bella and I in your prayers. Thanks again, everyone, for your continued caring and support in helping bring Bella home safely. Couldn't do this without all of you.
All of the help and support so many volunteers have given us is appreciated more than you will ever know. Checking the shelters, putting up fliers, taking walks thru areas of sightings, etc. I can't even begin to thank all of you for your time, caring and generosity. Again, our hope for Bella''s safe return is still very much alive and the continued support of so many of you has given us strength and kept us going. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.. Steve's hand has not healed as well as hoped and we don't know yet how much permanent damage he will have. I, too, am slowly healing from the infection and illness, which started the month before we lost Bella. Truly, we have a lot to be thankful for, especially all the new friends we have met.
Thank you all so much for your caring and help in bringing Bella home safely, hopefully soon. Thanks again, with all our hearts.
Steve and Terri Belsley
Now we have one from the evening of 6/29 off Monterey Rd. between Metcalf and Bailey. Bella was going south along ditch/railroad tracks on Monterey Rd., north of Bailey. The lady who spotted her said Bella was moving fast, which is typical for a Shiba. Don't know if she was running from something or to something, but excellent sign she is thriving. Was out there this morning and saw several places where, if she got that far south, she could cross over Monterey Rd. much easier than in the congested SJ areas of Monterey Rd. between Tully and Blossom Hill. I believe we - or the animal life - likely scared her out of the Silver Creek/Piercy Rd. area. A bobcat has been spotted there a couple times now and Bella is smart enough to move on when she doesn't feel safe or wants to avoid people/animals. From Silver Creek, if she headed on south along the creek, eventually she would hit the Metcalf area and be able to get across Monterey Rd. fairly easily, especially on a Sunday night at 8pm, when she was seen. I just wish she would stop heading south, turn around and go north. If she did, once she hits Branham Ln. it's a short,straight shot home about 3-4 miles. I have also contacted the Animal Catcher for Morgan Hill, whom I've spoken with before, to alert him that she could be headed his direction. Interestingly, Morgan Hill takes all found animals to Santa Clara, vs San Martin, which is in their backyard. Could use help in getting volunteers to put up additional flyers in this new area, from Metcalf south and nearby neighborhoods, which seem to be in pockets.
There was the sighting from a week ago 6/20 on the creekside of Piercy rd and Silver Creek Rd., when Bella was seen 20 yards from volunteer Amanda (drinking from the pond down in the creek area).
Additional Sighting 6/12/08
Also, I just learned of a new sighting back on 6/12 in a neighborhood off Hellyer Ave, east of 101, on a street called Tresslewood. Bella took some water from the lady, but she didn't know she was missing at the time. She saw the poster yesterday when Cindy and Mike were checking trail cams and I spoke to her in detail. She was very definite and makes sense, as Bella would have continued down the hill on Hellyer into the industrial park where she was seen on 6/15 and then by Amanda in the creek area 6/20.
Thank you for helping to bring Bella home safely. Please feel free to pass this info on to anyone interested. Everyones help is appreciated, even if you have just an hour to give. Thank you again for your help and support.