Court update from 18 February 2009, Update on Sammy, and thanks to all of you

posted Feb 18, 2009, 7:16 PM by Pamela

Hi All-


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