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Judge Orders Man Charged In Dog-Tossing Case to Appear in Court for Next Hearing

The case against a man charged in connection with a dead dog tossed at a group of teachers rallying in Orcutt was continued to July 29, when a judge on Friday ordered the defendant to show up for the hearing. 

Ryan Durazo, 20, of Orcutt and a 17-year-old minor were charged in connection with the March 18 incident.

Durazo faces misdemeanor charges alleging petty theft of lost property and assault, in addition to a violation of a Food and Agriculture Code section prohibiting unlawful transportation or disposal of a dead animal.

The case in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria stems from the disappearance of Sam, an elderly blind poodle belonging to the Schwark family in Orcutt. 

Two days after Sam went missing from the yard, the dead dog’s body was tossed from a truck passing a teachers’ rally on the corner of Clark Avenue and Bradley Road. No one was injured.

The dog’s body had rigor mortis.

The defendant, represented this time by San Luis Obispo-based attorney Patrick Fisher, did not appear in court Friday. Another attorney appeared on behalf of Durazo at the first hearing.

People charged with some misdemeanor crimes are not required to be in the courtroom for their arraignment hearings.

At the next hearing, the defense attorney said, the case will either be resolved or sent to another department for further proceedings.

Deputy District Attorney Catherine Pringle asked Judge James Iwasko to order Durazo to appear in court for the next hearing, noting the dog’s family had attended proceedings.

Several animal-welfare supporters, including from Davey’s Voice and Dog Adoption & Welfare Group, also showed up to support Sam’s family. 

But the defense attorney objected to Durazo being required to show up, citing the emotional nature of the case and concerns about conflict.

“That’s why we have bailiffs,” Iwaskso said.

The minor charged in connection with the case is being handle in Santa Maria Juvenile Court, where proceedings are confidential.

Outside the court, Fisher said his client is not accused of harming an animal.

“There’s things that ethically I can’t reveal. It certainly would probably help a lot of people through this process to know about my client,” Fisher said. “He’s a dog lover. Worst thing that happened in his life was losing his own dog.”

Friday’s continued arraignment marked the second in the case. 

Shirley Jansen, founder of Santa Barbara-based DAWG, was among those on hand for Friday’s hearing.

“We’re really hopeful that this little family can see some peace finally by knowing that someone who was a member of their family is getting a little justice,” Jansen said. “And maybe that the community understands that this is not a community that tolerates animal abuse and finds it amusing to a take a beloved pet and destroy it.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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