April 25, 2013 TV News

Citrus heights woman insists condemned dog is not vicious

News10ABC

BanditPicNewsClick on photo of Bandit for video to on this link:   http://citrusheights-nhighlands.news10.net/news/news/130833-woman-wages-3-year-battle-save-death-row-dog

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA – Nearly every day for the past three years, Sandi York has made a 30-mile round trip from her home in Citrus Heights to visit her dog on death row at the Sacramento County animal shelter.

York, 69, a retired optician, is waging an unprecedented battle to save the 8-year-old female boxer mix named Bandit from euthanasia.

“I need her,” York said. “She is my best friend.”

An administrative hearing officer ordered Bandit be destroyed following an April 10, 2010 attack on a mail carrier who had rung the doorbell at York’s home to get a signature for a certified letter.

York wasn’t home at the time and a roommate allowed Bandit and another dog to push through the steel security door to get to the mail carrier.

Although the bite inflicted by Bandit did not require stitches, a transcript of the vicious dog hearing indicates an animal control officer recommended euthanasia based on Bandit’s aggressive behavior and prior history.

In 2009, Bandit was blamed for biting an 8-year-old boy riding a bike in the neighborhood. There’s no indication from the bite report the child required medical attention.

York challenges the accuracy of the 2009 report because she was not able to speak to the child’s family, and she said Bandit only lunged at the mail carrier because he had agitated the two dogs by repeatedly ringing the bell.

“She’s a fabulous dog. She’s not an aggressive dog,” York insisted.

The second dog involved in the attack on the mail carrier was allowed to return home with special conditions.

Sacramento County Animal Care and Control Director Dave Dickinson said Bandit continued to be aggressive when she was impounded following the mail carrier attack, but he acknowledged her temperament has improved during her three years in custody.

Dickinson said, however, the improved behavior is not grounds for the dog’s release.

“We already had two victims. We don’t want to put a third victim at risk,” he said.

Following the euthanasia order on May 6, 2010, San Francisco attorney Christine Garcia stepped in at no charge to file an appeal in the Sacramento County Superior Court.

Garcia claimed a vicious dog determination resulting in euthanasia requires more than a small puncture wound.

“There was a mistake of law and fact,” Garcia said. “There was no evidence presented to prove severe injury.”

Garcia was unsuccessful in getting a judge to overrule the administrative hearing officer and is now taking the case to the California 3rd District Court of Appeal.

The Sacramento County Counsel’s office did not respond to repeated requests for an accounting of hours it has spent defending the shelter’s position.

In the meantime, Pleasanton animal advocate Pat Workman has launched a campaign to save Bandit through public pressure.

The Saving Bandit Facebook page boasts more than 4,700 followers.

“People from all over the world are rooting for Bandit and rooting for Team Bandit to get this done and bring her home,” Workman said.

Dickinson counters that the Saving Bandit campaign feeds on emotion, not fact.

“I’m wondering if anybody out there trying to give support to Bandit, if they were attacked by two dogs and that happened to them, what their feelings would be.”

Dickinson said he’s unaware of any previous case in which a condemned animal was kept alive for three years by a persistent owner. He said Bandit would not be euthanized as long as a legal appeal is pending.

“I’ll leave it up to the courts to decide,” Dickinson said. “It’s not for me to get in the middle of it at this point.”

York is billed $106 monthly for Bandit’s care and said she will continue to visit the dog every day the shelter is open.

“I miss her desperately,” York said. “This animal does not deserve to die.”

By George Warren, GWarren@news10.net

News10/KXTV

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10 thoughts

  1. There is no proof that Bandit bit a kid,,, Anyone can say anything and you believe it? Whatever happened to innocent till Proven guilty?? This is a bunch of lies,,,, come on people,,,

  2. Please let Bandit free she is old how can you do this? I am sad for her and for the lady who owns her. There seems to be no compassion for the both. WHY?????
    Help

  3. I’ve been bitten before, and I saw the photo of the mail carrier’s bite. Mine was worse and it was still mild. I had a small cut with a big bruise for a week or two. I think the city is making a big deal out of nothing. As for the child that was bit, that’s only an allegation. That shouldn’t even be allowed in the case. I don’t think these people know what a severe bite looks like. You would need surgery, not a band-aid.

  4. There is no proof the boy on the bicycle was bitten? And when Bandit bit the mail carrier it was because someone else staying with Ms. York let the dogs out? And the bite was not severe and was in face very trivial. So we have two issues. I think they should be addressed separately.

    1st is the biting allegation. Whatever conspired did not cause a severe injury. That much can be supported legally. I don’t believe you can euthanize a dog unless severe injury is done to another person or pet.

    The 2nd issue is one of containment. In neither case was Ms. York at fault for failing to contain her dog. However it was her responsibility. Just because she did not realize her dog could dig under the fence doesn’t relieve her of the responsibility. However the fact that she had a fenced yard and it was a one time event shows that Ms. York acted in good faith in keeping her dogs contained and was not in the habit of letting them run free. It was AN ACCIDENT. When the dogs got out of the front dog, Ms. York wasn’t even home, and if she is anything like me she would have left strict instructions with the person left behind, not to let the dogs out of the front door. Again she acted in good faith, and it was an accident. The resulting damage was minor but was mostly done to the boy and the mail carrier’s sense of well being.

    It can be a very shattering experience when one is attacked by a large, barking dog. And Ms. York may well be expected to compensate these people, perhaps with a fine, with homeowner’s insurance, etc. But certainly not with the life of her dog.

    Finally, admitting accidents happened, what kind of punishment fit the “crime?” How many people have gone completely unpunished when found guilty of intentionally and sadistically torturing a dog or cat to death or near death, and been fined a small amount of money, little to no jail time, if anything at all. Read “Justice for Toby” and see if you think the legal system isn’t biased. There are thousands of cases that show strong evidence that this country is an animal-hating population. The way it stands now, it is a misdemeanor in most states,(if the law is even enforced), to torture and animal to death. And an isolated incident committed by a protective dog which left a nearly invisible scratch calls for the dogs death!

    Now if Ms. York cannot manage to keep her dogs confined, there should be some kind if punitive action. But even then, euthanasia isn’t called for. I believe a suitable solution to the problem would involve Ms York paying renumeration to the victims, and being forced to keep her dogs confined to her home by installing safe guards in her home with the installation of such safeguards being overseen by the prosecution or an agreed-upon representative for the prosecution. In other words– it cannot ever happen again. In this way the dog would never again pose a threat to the community, and the prosecution might be satisfied.

    An you folks need to get the best attorney you can, not the cheapest. If you can’t afford it, started finding the money, or the support you need from other organizations. Do some research. There are too many loopholes in the current sentencing to go untapped.

  5. I am not a California resident but I will tell you this… I would go to change.org and file petitions why are you only limited to Sacramento residents.. let the world know.. ask them to share and sign on all social media.. go to the news, city councilman, expand to other states.. tell your story… let the people stand up and help desperate pet owners. Where there is a cause their is the will to fight for what is rightfully correct… Sad.. similar thing happening with a puppy in Florida… they expanded to California.. the councilman there has even gotten involved,, why is he not involved in your case… See Save Rufus on Facebook or change.org… Praying for you and for Bandit..

    • Liz, thank you for your post and willingness to help Bandit. We do indeed have a petition you can sign; it is in the about section of Bandit’s FB page. The petition I’m calling to action is for resident in the County since they will be presented to a particular group. We have over 35,000 petition signatures on causes.com for Bandit already and of course more would be better. We are working on a number of things at the local level such as those you suggest. Thank you.

  6. Really, what is wrong with you? How many times do kids embellish circumstances? If a vicious dog bites, there will be stitches needed. Why don’t you use your resources to punish people who hurt animals? This dog is loved, loved dogs are not vicious.

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