Following are the responses from Yucca Valley to 14 questions Cactus Thorns sent to Yucca Valley pursuant to a statutory Request for Records. Note, this story was updated from its original at 9:40 AM, today.
Inexplicably, the city and local authorities are withholding the name of the owner of those pit bulls. Why? What the hell are local authorities doing about this incident? Why the blackout on public information?
From the testimony of the victim’s husband, James Sharp (when he contacted Cactus Thorns), the female owner of the vicious animals just let it happen and the owner was screaming at the victim while she was being mauled, accusing the victim of riling the pit bulls. Perhaps the owner should be charged with attempted murder or manslaughter for doing nothing while Ms. Sharp was fighting for her very life.
The Hearing date on the destiny of the pit bulls Monday, August 22, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. in the Yucca Valley Community Center, Mesquite Room.
Five of the questions concerning the initial report were not answered: The City maintains that the matter is still under investigation. Be advised that my request asked nothing about the investigation alleged to be taking place… rather, it simply sought out information that dealt with the report.
Three of the questions the Animal Shelter reports they keep no records or information.
Cactus Thorns is researching California Codes regarding the requirement for record keeping on public animal shelters. When completed, that information will be posted for the benefit of Cactus Thorns readers.
There appears to be a cover-up of sorts relative to public information here. Either that or Y.V. is derelict in its responsibility in maintaining better records-keeping on animals (and thus failing to protecting the public) . It’s the view of many in Yucca Valley that it’s now TIME for the town to incorporate the County’s spade and neuter ordnance to regulate pit bulls, thus better insuring the safety of everyone.
As we will recall, the Hi-Desert Star on Tuesday, August 9, 2011, published the story of another incident where dogs bit two children in separate incidents. The victims were flown to Loma Linda University Medical Center.
“In a more humane world we would put owners of vicious dogs in a kennel for ten days and send the dog to rehab.” — Tom Loret, Hi-Desert Star. In a current Hi-Desert Star Poll, the question was asked: Are pit bulls more likely than other dog breeds to attack people? 80 percent said yes they are more aggressive….
Melanie Crider, Yucca Valley Animal Care and Control Manager, said: “In Yucca Valley we have zero tolerance for dogs that display overly aggressive behavior” (Ibid).
Note that California has one of the strictest and most animal-friendly shelter laws in the country. It is designated as SB 1785 Statutes of 1998, otherwise known as “The Hayden Law”. Cool but where is the accountable of better record-keeping of the Yucca Valley’s shelter? And why has the request for records been fulfilled in large part by stating it’s under investigation?
Here are the responses to the Request for public information. I thank the very professional and cordial Town Clerk, Jamie Anderson, for her timely response to the request. Melanie Crider provided the following info. I thank her for her response.
Janet M. “Jamie” Anderson, MMC
Town of Yucca Valley
Mr. Holstrom: I have attached the answers to your questions from Animal Control.
1. Regarding the pit bull Mauling of Jaqueline (Juanita ) Sharp, near Balboa on July 25, 2011, what are the names of the two dogs involved in the incident? – Not available at this time. This case is still under investigation.
2. Regarding same, the names and address of the owners? – Not available at this time. This case is still under investigation.
3. The names and addresses of the neighbors or individuals whom responded to the dog attacks and thus restrained the animals? – Not available at this time. This case is still under investigation.
4. Regarding same, have these two dogs ever had any other complaints against them? – Not available at this time. This case is still under investigation.
5. Regarding question #4, the names and addresses of the individuals making complaints and a copy of the complaints. – Not available at this time. This case is still under investigation.
6. Regarding same, have these two dog ever been cited, impounded or quarantine before? – The Town of Yucca Valley has no records or information showing that either of these two dogs have ever been cited, impounded, or quarantined prior to this incident.
7. Regarding same, were the two dogs licensed by the city or the county? – Unknown. The Town has no records showing the dogs are licensed here.
8. How many incidents of dog attacks or aggressive dogs within the jurisdiction of Yucca Valley have been made in the last 24 months? We do not have the data/statistics for this request. However, while there have been many “reports” of dog attacks or aggressive dogs, most of the reports prove to be unfounded. It is quite common for people to report they were attacked when in actuality, they were never touched by a dog but perhaps frightened by it because of its breed, size, etc. Many people will report that a dog is loose and aggressive as opposed to just loose in order to make sure we respond quickly.
9. How many dogs have been placed in quarantine for aggressive behavior, dog attacks or dog bites in the last 24 months? According to State law, if a dog bites a human and breaks the skin (unless it is your own family dog), it must be quarantined for a 10 day health check. From January 2010 to July 2011 there have been 36 dogs quarantined for bites. Most of the bite reports are minor bites, i.e., a small break of skin on the finger. Bites can occur when someone reaches over a neighboring fence to touch a dog, someone picks up a stray dog and gets nipped, children are too rough with the neighborhood puppy, etc. Someone who trips over a sleeping dog may get nipped but it is typically a minor bite. A caregiver might get nipped by her patient’s Chihuahua. There have been relatively few actual dog attacks and/or mauling on humans in Yucca Valley. One of the worse incidents we have on record is the recent dog mauling in Paradise Valley.
10. How many dogs have been euphonized for aggressive behavior or for attacks on people or other dogs in the last 24 months? – I believe the question here is how many dogs have been “euthanized” for aggressive behavior or for attacks on people or other dogs in the past 24 months. We do not have the statistical information (completed and available) for this question.
11. How many loose dogs have been picked up in be last 24 months in violation of the town’s lease law in the months? We do not keep separate records for “why” dogs are picked up by animal control. Some are picked up for abandonment, some for loose dog violations, some are willingly turned in by their owners, some are owned, some are strays. But we do not have a tracking system that sorts everything out.
12. How many citation have been issued to dog owners for dog attacks, for aggressive behavior, or for violations of the lease law in the last 24 months? – We do not separate citations into violation categories. Most citations are issued for non-licensed dogs; second most is for loose dogs. If a dog has known aggressive behavior, we will investigate the situation and if we find there is supporting evidence, we will take the case to an administrative hearing. Since most dog owners involved in this type of case do not want to go through the process, they will sign the dog(s) over to the Town. After the legal holding period, the dogs are then euthanized.
13. Does Yucca Valley have an ordinance or is it contemplating one similar to the County of San Bernardino whereas pit bulls are required to be neuter or spade, or are there any town studies, documents, reports, or recommendation for such an ordinance, or not? – There are no spay/neuter requirements for pit bulls or any other breed in the Town. Currently, there are no Town studies, documents or recommendation for an ordinance related to this matter.
14. Have their been any requests from citizens for an ordinance pit bulls be neuter or spade? If so, I hereby request a copy on any documentation thereto. – No requests have been made to my knowledge.
Janet M. “Jamie” Anderson, MMC
Town of Yucca Valley
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