Sunday, June 21, 2009

Groundswell of Disgust Grows Over Delgadillo's 4 Year Persecution of a Dog.

Will Carmen Trutanich put an end to misery for a man and his dog which Delgadillo's attorneys have perpetuated for 4 years?

If you would like to urge City Attorney Elect Carmen Trutanich to take immediate action to stop this madness as soon as he takes office on July 1, write, call and fax him at:

Trutanich Mitchell, LLP
180 East Ocean Boulevard

Long Beach CA 90802-4079
Tel: 562) 216-4444
Fax: (562) 216-4445

Kinship Circle organizes and facilitates public support for animal welfare causes. KC's most recent
Action Alert regarding Stu's case can be viewed at or at KC's own blog. has published a terrific article by Kate Woodviolet on the "Stu, the Dog" case. At our publishing time, 48 comments have been registered AGAINST actions of the City of Los Angeles--the most comments ever lodged in any of Woodviolet's articles on pet issues in Los Angeles. The recently updated piece appears in its entirety:

Playing political games with a dog's life

June 17, 12:10 PM
By Kate Woodviolet

UPDATED After sitting in what amounts to dog jail for almost four years, a dog named Stu could be put to death soon; or he could finally go home to an owner who's been fighting for his life since 2005.

Rescued from the streets in 2000 by Jeff de la Rosa, for five years Stu lived peacefully with de la Rosa and his two other dogs. In August of 2005 de la Rosa was called out of town by a family emergency. He left the dogs in the care of an assistant who knew them. Following an uncharacteristic scuffle between Stu and one of the other dogs during which Stu's ear was torn, the assistant, in an attempt to take Stu to the vet, approached the wounded dog and tried to put a harness on him, over his injured ear (pet care experts always recommend using extreme caution, even a muzzle, when dealing with injured pets, because often even a normally friendly pet can lash out when fearful and in pain). During her attempt to harness him, a frightened Stu bit the assistant twice on the arm.

De la Rosa offered to pay the assistant's medical bills and says she initially told him she "didn't want to get Stu in trouble." He says when she went to the hospital she told emergency room staff that she didn't know the dog who had bitten her. She didn't call the police or L.A. Animal Services.+/- Read more...

According to de la Rosa, three weeks after the incident, without warning, he was served with a lawsuit. Ten days later he came home to find Stu missing from a locked outdoor kennel, and the gate on his fence pried open from the outside. He received a call from Animal Services that Stu had been "found and brought in by an unidentified private citizen." When de la Rosa arrived to retrieve his dog, Animal Services staff told him they had just received a bite report, one month after the incident, and they refused to release Stu.

The assistant, by that time represented by a law firm specializing in wresting large dog-bite settlements from homeowners' insurance carriers, now claimed that Stu had "dragged her back and forth across the floor." De la Rosa says she was seeking six million dollars in damages.

Stu with former Animal Services Board Commissioner Marie Atake. Atake famously resigned in 2007, frustrated in her attempts to increase Department integrity and professionalism

Following LAAS policy, a hearing was held to determine whether Stu had a history of aggression and whether he was likely to bite again if released. While the Hearing Examiner found that Stu had caused an injury, he felt it was sufficient to revoke the dog's license, which would have given de la Rosa the opportunity to find a place for Stu outside City limits, or to move. It was a verdict that would have given Stu back his life.

But that's when Animal Services Departmental policy went off the rails. Although LAAS policy was, and is, that the Hearing Examiner's recommendations determine the outcome, a Department captain apparently unrelated to the matter, a Captain Helen Brakemeier, interceded, telling then-General Manager Guerdon Stuckey in a memo that, "After reviewing the [Hearing Examiner's] report and all of the exhibits, I disagree with [his] recommendation and think that the dog should be deemed dangerous." Nowhere in the memo does Brakemeier indicate that she has personally met or evaluated the dog, nor what if any authority she has to overrule the hearing officer's verdict. Nevertheless, Stuckey concurred with Brakemeier, allegedly without even reading the report. His decision to deem Stu a "dangerous dog" was a sentence of death.

Animal Services Commissioner Kathy Riordan told me, "That's the first time I'd ever seen a General Manager increase the penalty [for an animal]." Within days, Stuckey was fired as General Manager by Mayor Villaraigosa, ironically, according to the L.A. Times, for failing to reduce shelter killing. De la Rosa says he was never informed about the role Brakemeier had played in condemning Stu. Her seemingly irregular participation in the process of determining the dog's fate came to light only after de la Rosa requested all documents related to the case in the wake of the unexpected LAAS verdict that Stu was too dangerous to live.

Since then Stu has been held by the City, or in City-designated facilities, and de la Rosa has been fighting to save his dog's life. Respected dog behaviorists, including Dr. Richard Polsky, who in 1987 helped formulate the City standards for assessing dangerous dogs; and Bobby Dorofshar of New Leash on Life, who has also worked with the City and been a member of the Spay/Neuter Advisory Committee, have stated that Stu is not aggressive toward humans. Their opinions are based on behavioral evaluations, assessments of his behavior prior to the incident, and an understanding of the ways the victim's actions towards Stu when he was injured may have unintentionally provoked the bites. In Dorofshar's case, he has voluntarily housed Stu at his own facility and has had the opportunity to get to know Stu over many months.

Nevertheless, Animal Services and the City Attorney's office have refused to budge, continuing to insist that the now-elderly Stu must die. Arguments in the Court of Appeals are scheduled for June 18th.

Stu, on the day he was impounded by L.A. Animal Services

Ironically, de la Rosa's fight to ensure humane treatment for his dog while in custody, and to save Stu's life, may have made his battle tougher. Allegations of a pattern of retaliatory behavior on the part of Animal Services management towards critics have surfaced repeatedly in the humane/rescue community over the years. In the days prior to the forced resignation of the most recent General Manager, Ed Boks, the City Council rebuked him publicly for blogging against his critics, including de la Rosa, on City time.

Even the Animal Services Commission, which was instituted as a supervisory body to the Animal Services Department, has fought for mercy for Stu. Commissioner Archie Quincey, who boasts a thirty-year career in L.A. County animal control, authored a motion that directs the City Attorney to drop his opposition to de la Rosa's appeal. Quincey wants the case returned to the Superior Court and wants that court to set aside Stu’s sentence based on evidence that the dog was denied due process. However, in subsequent meetings Commissioner Quincey's motion has not appeared on the agenda. Then, without warning or explanation, the June 8th meeting, the last scheduled before Stu’s Appeals Court arguments, was cancelled.

This points out another puzzling aspect of this story: the fact that even though the Animal Services Commission has a supervisory role over the Animal Services Department, it's unclear who determines the agenda for Commission meetings. Although nominally the Board President sets the agenda, in the minutes for the April 14th meeting, after Commissioner Quincey introduced his motion to free Stu, it was Department Assistant General Manager Linda Barth, not Board President Tariq Khero, who tells the Commission that, "the item is already agendized for the next meeting." Reached for comment, Barth stated that the Board President sets the agenda. She said the matter was subsequently discussed in closed session, but it was unclear if she meant specifically Commissioner Quincey's motion or Stu's case in general. She referred further questions to the City Attorney's office. A call to Deputy City Attorney Todd Leung, who has spearheaded the City's case against Stu, was not returned. Nor was a call to Board President Tariq Khero, and a call and email to incoming City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who takes office July 1st.

[June 18th: Interestingly, although Assistant General Manager Linda Barth referred all further inquiries to the City Attorney's office, when I called the City Attorney's office today they were referring calls back to L.A. Animal Services.]

The next Commission meeting is scheduled for June 22. When asked if the motion would be discussed, Commissioner Quincey said, "If it's not on the agenda, I'm going to raise hell." He said, "I think it's gone too far. I have a lot of Animal Control experience. I saw the pictures [of the human victim's injuries], there were a couple of small puncture wounds -- and the dog was injured when it happened. On that one bite Stu gets the ultimate penalty? That's like getting the electric chair for a misdemeanor!"

When asked what he thought would be a just outcome, Quincey said, "I think Stu should go home."

If you would like to register your opinion on Stu's fate, you can contact the City Attorney's office at: (213) 978-8100

(end of repost)

If you would like to urge Carmen Trutanich to take immediate action to stop this madness as soon as he takes office on July 1, write, call and fax him at:

Trutanich Mitchell, LLP
180 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach

(Tel: 562) 216-4444
Fax: (562) 216-4445

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