Shadow, a gray pit bull, has remain impounded at the Ventura County Animal Shelter for nearly six months as its owner and advocates awaited the findings and orders in an animal nuisance case. Shadow bit an officer during a confrontation in April between several officers and one member of Shadow’s human family; an officer shot the dog after he bit the officer. A month later after, the public court hearing in September, the hearing finally came to a conclusion last week before hearing officer Harold Holmes, deputy director of San Diego’s Department of Animal Services. But according to Gannon Johnson, attorney for Shadow’s owner, Jesus Benavides, a homeless man in Ventura, and for Shadow, the orders are egregious at best.
“The decision rendered by Mr. Holmes is a travesty of justice, not only for Shadow but for every animal owner and lover in Ventura County,” she wrote in an email. “It defies common sense on multiple levels and perverts the little guidance provided by the existing laws governing animal nuisance hearings in the City of Ventura and the County.”
While Shadow wasn’t ordered to be put down, the orders did include that the owner must purchase and maintain liability insurance in the minimum amount of $100,000, and keep the dog in a fenced-in area with a “Beware of Dog” sign, among several others. If the owner doesn’t comply with the order within 10 days, Shadow will be euthanized by Ventura County Animal Services, or as stated in the legal document, “abated by destruction.”
Gannon expressed her frustration over the findings, saying that Holmes didn’t clearly define provocation, which weighed heavily on the intent of behind the dog’s behavior and the outcome of the case.
“It is uncontested — by the police officers, the other eyewitnesses and the hearing officer — that Shadow did not move toward the officers until four of them engaged in a physical altercation with one of his loved ones,” Gannon stated. “To condemn [Shadow] for acting on the instinct humans and animals alike have to protect their loved ones because Shadow’s actions were deemed by the hearing officer to be outside the scope of what he personally considered to be ‘legally and socially acceptable’ conduct is ludicrous.”
With time counting down to the 10-day compliance order, Gannon is requesting a temporary injunction that would prohibit Ventura County Animal Services from taking any actions with Shadow in connection to the case. The temporary injunction would allow Gannon to file a proper appeal within the 90-day time frame allotted after a legal decision.
Attempts to contact officials related to the case have not been successful or officials were unable to comment.
Gannon has started a petition at Change.org, URGENT: Ventura Dog Protecting Family Could Be Euthanized, urging support to save Shadow’s life.