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Goleta dangerous dog case to be heard by superior court

Posted at 3:35 PM, Dec 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-27 18:35:10-05

The case of a dog deemed dangerous after a reported attack in Goleta is going to court.

City officials say “Benson” was involved in an attack that led to the death of another dog. The dog’s owner was also reportedly bitten.

A petition on Change.org created by Benson’s owner seeks to prevent the dog from being euthanized.

“Benson is not a threat to anyone!” the petition says. “Benson does not deserve this fate for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

According to the petition, Benson was adopted out by DAWG, a dog rescue organization in Santa Barbara, where “he was assessed by professionals to assure his healthy mental state.”

“Benson is a happy go lucky dog that loves people,” the petition says. “Benson still has so much to live for and learn and we want to see Benson in a loving home where he deserves to be.”

The petition has nearly 15,000 signatures, but according to Goleta City Attorney Mike Jenkins, the matter is now in the hands of the superior court after Benson’s owner appealed the city’s ruling.

Jenkins released the following statement on Thursday:

“Like most cities and counties, Goleta’s Municipal Code includes a chapter that addresses dangerous dogs. Pursuant to the provisions of that chapter, an administrative hearing was conducted at which evidence was received concerning two incidents in 2018 involving unprovoked attacks by Benson on other dogs. One incident resulted in the death of the canine victim and the second resulted in a bite of the canine victim’s owner as she intervened to protect her dogs. Based on the evidence received during an administrative hearing at which all interested parties were given the opportunity to testify, Benson was deemed to be a dangerous dog.

Benson’s owner has now appealed that determination to the Superior Court. Under the applicable rules, a Superior Court judge will consider the evidence “de novo,” meaning that the judge will hear the evidence independently and will not rely exclusively on the City’s evidence received during or the conclusion reached in the administrative hearing. As you know, the court hearing is scheduled for late January. The judge could come to the same or a different conclusion than the City; if the judge concludes that Benson is a dangerous dog, the judge can order any number of remedies.

The City appreciates that issues involving domestic animals can evoke a lot of passion, including commentary from people out-of-state who may not be privy to all of the facts. The City’s administrative proceeding is respectful of due process and the rights of all concerned. At bottom, the City exercises its authority with the sole purpose of achieving a safe physical environment for all residents and their domestic animals.”