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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 3:52 am | Fog/Mist 53º


3 Dogs That Mauled Woman in Santa Barbara Likely to Be Euthanized

Three dogs that attacked and seriously injured a woman last month in Santa Barbara’s West Downtown neighborhood likely will be euthanized, unless a judge rules differently.

On Nov. 5, the woman was attacked when she entered the front yard of a home in the 400 block of Dibblee Avenue to feed five large dogs for the owner, who was out of town.

Police said the woman suffered multiple dog bites to her legs and upper body, and that she likely would not have survived had the neighbors not come to her rescue.

Animal control officers responded and subdued the dogs with pepper spray and two were sedated with tranquilizer darts. 

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood was appointed to be the hearing officer since an animal control supervisor wasn’t available. 

At a Nov. 24 hearing, Harwood found that three of the five dogs involved in the incident met the criteria to be euthanized.

The victim and the dog owner, Joseph Martinez, spoke, as well as neighbors who rescued the woman, Harwood said.

He determined that two of the dogs were not involved in the attack, so those animals were ordered to be released.

Police had reported earlier that the dogs were pit bulls or pit bull mixes, but Harwood said that the owner provided papers for two that state they are English bulldogs, and that the third has papers stating he is a bulldog mix.

The three dogs in question had attacked the woman at the same time in the front yard of the home.

“My finding was that the three other dogs would be put down,” Harwood said.

Harwood said that a notice was sent to the owner last Friday, and the man has five days to file an appeal with the court if he chooses to.  

Martinez has already sent an email stating he intends to appeal the decision, Harwood said.

That decision was based on the city’s municipal code, and Harwood called the statements made during the hearing “very compelling.”

“It was apparent to me that the injuries (the victim) sustained were serious,” he said. “I think she would have likely died had she not been rescued by her neighbors.”

Though they didn’t seem to have any ill-will towards the animal’s owner, neighbors said that they had a “sustained fear” of the man’s dogs, and that they presented a menace to the community, Harwood said.

As for the victim, “my understanding is that she’s still utilizing a wheelchair,” he said.

If the owner does appeal, there will be a hearing with witnesses and the victim presenting testimony before a judge in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

“It’s out of the city’s hands at this point,” Harwood said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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