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Response to Statement Regarding Animal Death
updated: Jul 27, 2014, 3:00 PM

By Bryan Szal

Community Members,

I am Kitti's owner. For about 9 years I volunteered at the Santa Barbara County Shelter on Overpass Road in Goleta. I helped build various outbuildings and structures where "overflow" dogs could be housed. This included fundraising, donations of materials, architectural drawings and volunteer labor. I am an Advanced Level volunteer and am qualified to handle the "power breeds" as they are referred to.

There is another entity who has contributed so much to the well-being of all of the dogs I have helped foster and adopted out. Her name is Kitti. I adopted her from the county shelter 11-plus years ago. She has been "mama" dog, mentor and instructor to not only 20+ foster dogs, and was used as a "test dog" during assessments and adoptions. She has been qualified by Santa Barbara County Animal Services to be suitable for the allowance of fostering dogs under four Shelter Supervisors over the years. She has passed her cat test, has no prey drive and has been off-site at many County events, fund raisers and dog parks.

I want to draw attention away from the incident in question and how she was deemed a "Dangerous Dog" and ASK A BETTER QUESTION.

Which is: How did a 12 year old dog with NO prior history of aggression and was a foster companion with the County Shelter for 9 years be deemed a "Dangerous Dog" and was impounded for destruction? So this is what everyone should be questioning. The California dangerous dog law, which is the same as many states, says that a dog must have a serious incident two(2) times within 36 months to be deemed dangerous. Even if deemed dangerous; there are options for the owner. Never off their property, leashed at all times, muzzled in public, carrying $300,000 general liability insurance, etc.

The Santa Barbara County Dangerous Dog code does not offer any options in writing. It is draconian and barbaric. Dogs do not even get a second chance. The way that is it worded is cut and dry. It leaves no option for the overseeing officer or owner. It is basically a one(1) strike conviction of death based on hearsay and non-factual evidence. It has been challenged in Santa Barbara County Superior Court before and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has promised to review the ordinance pending a petition. Even hardened criminals in California get three chances.

Please see the below link at CHANGE.ORG and sign the petition to have the Santa Barbara County ordinance re-worded to offer options to the overseeing judiciaries and dog owners.


Dangerous Dog decisions in Santa Barbara County and City have been overturned in the past through an appeal process; whereby the dog is deemed "Not Dangerous" and most reasonable hearing officers have in fact released dangerous dogs back to their owners with very strict stipulations as noted above. Kitti was not afforded any of those options by the hearing officer.

With the help of Shadow's Fund, K9PALS, CARE4PAWS and countless volunteers we were less than an hour away from submitting our appeal. Then I received a call that Kitti had been killed by other dogs who got loose at the shelter. She was in the Pillsbury Building, which is where Protective Custody dogs go. Clearly she was not in Protective Custody at all.

The grief, sadness and emotional damage is far reaching. I am heartily sorry for these many tragic accidents that have resulted in several dogs deaths. There is also peripheral damage as well. The employee in question is in my opinion one of the hardest working, caring person anyone would ever meet. This happened because of a broken understaffed system and a facility that should have been repaired years ago when the main building was remodeled.

Again. Please sign the petition at CHANGE.ORG and make a difference. Had Santa Barbara County adopted the California State law, which is similar for many states, this would have never happened.

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An incident occurred at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter yesterday that resulted in the death of a dog. (07/26/14)
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