Pit bulls Maddie, left, and Mason, face euthanization unless the court steps in to allow the dogs to go home.
Pit bulls Maddie, left, and Mason, face euthanization unless the court steps in to allow the dogs to go home. (Courtesy photo)

Maddie and Mason might never come home.

A Santa Barbara animal control officer has ordered the pit bull dogs destroyed after one of them bit a neighbor on the neck.

“Given the severity of the attack, and the temper and ferocity of Maddie and Mason, it is our decision that this dog be humanely destroyed,” wrote Sgt. Kasi Corbett, the animal control hearing officer. 

Since it is unclear which of the two dogs took part in the bite, both dogs are set to be killed.

For owner Ed Figone and his daughter, Kristen, the decision to have the dogs euthanized is a wild and tragic overreaction to a freak incident, in which they say the dogs were provoked. Kristen Figone said the dogs — Mason is full American staffordshire terrier, and Maddie is 50/50 Rottweiler and American staffordshire terrier — are normally calm and friendly. 

“It’s devastating. It’s stressful. It’s heartbreaking,” she said. 

The Figones have filed an appeal of Corbett’s decision that will be heard in a two-day virtual hearing scheduled to start Wednesday morning through Santa Barbara County Superior Court. 

On Feb. 8, according to court documents obtained by Noozhawk, Michael Biancone walked over to the Figone house to inform Ed Figone that part of a shared fenced had burned. Ed Figone told Noozhawk that the night before, a tenant at the Olive Street property tipped a candle that burned a portion of shared bamboo fence. 

When Biancone tried to unlatch a small metal gate, he saw the dogs run toward him.

According to the City of Santa Barbara’s brief for the hearing, when Biancone extended his hand to greet the dogs, one of the dogs bit his hand. One of the dogs also lunged at his neck.

Biancone, who did not respond to Noozhawk for this report, was taken to a hospital for treatment of a Level 2 Trauma bite. He required extensive sutures, according to the city’s account. 

On Feb. 13, the Figones received notice from Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow that the dogs were ordered destroyed because they are vicious. A dog is considered vicious if it attacks or bites at the neck and head, according to animal control.

The dogs are simply not vicious, Kristen Figone said.

“Mason is 6 years old, and Maddie is almost 8 years old, and they have impeccable records,” she said. “They have never had a biting incident with neither a human or animal. Maddie and Mason have never escaped or tried to escape our property. They always have their current vaccinations and registrations up to date.”

She said the dogs are regularly walked along Cabrillo Boulevard, APS road, on the Mesa, through San Roque, up hiking trials and even to the wineries in the Funk Zone.

“These are both loving family dogs that have grown up and been around different aged children, ranging from infants to teenagers,” Kristen Figone said.

Maddie, left, and Mason are “loving family dogs,” owner Kristen Figone says.

Maddie, left, and Mason are “loving family dogs,” owner Kristen Figone says. (Courtesy photo)

From Feb. 8, when the dogs were seized, through March 27, she was able to see the dogs, separately, for only 30 minutes at a time. Later, they were transferred from the animal control office to Camp Canine

Kristen Figone alleges that on the night of the transfer, her dogs were physically abused by a catch pole with a plastic-coated wire loop. She said that when she arrived at Camp Canine after her dogs were transferred, “there was a trail of blood starting in the driveway which led all the way through the property” to the back area where Maddie’s kennel was located.

Since the transfer to Camp Canine, Kristen Figone said she has been with her dog for 158 consecutive days. She stays for nine hours a day, leaving at 8 p.m. Ed Figone pays about $1,500 a month for the dogs to stay at Camp Canine. 

Kristen Figone said she thinks her dogs are being discriminated against because they are pit bulls. The city, she said, also has mischaracterized the dogs. For example, Maddie typically takes an anti-anxiety drug and is muzzled before going to the veterinary office. 

On the day of the attack, Kristen Figone said, Biancone “opened a gate on a yard with barking dogs.” Since it was the dog’s first offense, and because the neighbor came onto their property, the dogs were just protecting the home, she said.

“These dogs should be returned with restrictions, not put to death for defending their home and family from a perceived aggressive intruder,” she said. 

Ed Figone said that he, too, wants the dogs returned. He said the dogs have an indescribable meaning to him. His wife, Laura, died in 2013 of ovarian cancer. 

“Since my wife passed,” he said, “they’re basically my partners, my superhero, and I am the sidekick.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.