SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UPDATE 12/27/18 11:15 a.m.
Goleta's City Attorney has released a statement on behalf of the city regarding the case of Benson, a black Lab being held in the county animal shelter after attacks on two dogs and one person.
In the statement, Mike Jenkins said:
"Like most cities and counties, Goleta’s Municipal Code includes a chapter that addresses dangerous dogs. Pursuant to the provisions of that chapter, an administrative hearing was conducted at which evidence was received concerning two incidents in 2018 involving unprovoked attacks by Benson on other dogs. One incident resulted in the death of the canine victim and the second resulted in a bite of the canine victim’s owner as she intervened to protect her dogs. Based on the evidence received during an administrative hearing at which all interested parties were given the opportunity to testify, Benson was deemed to be a dangerous dog.
Benson’s owner has now appealed that determination to the Superior Court. Under the applicable rules, a Superior Court judge will consider the evidence “de novo,” meaning that the judge will hear the evidence independently and will not rely exclusively on the City’s evidence received during or the conclusion reached in the administrative hearing. The court hearing is scheduled for late January. The judge could come to the same or a different conclusion than the City; if the judge concludes that Benson is a dangerous dog, the judge can order any number of remedies.
The City appreciates that issues involving domestic animals can evoke a lot of passion, including commentary from people out-of-state who may not be privy to all of the facts. The City’s administrative proceeding is respectful of due process and the rights of all concerned. At bottom, the City exercises its authority with the sole purpose of achieving a safe physical environment for all residents and their domestic animals"
Dozens of people headed to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse on the day after Christmas to voice their opposition to the potential euthanizing of a dog named Benson.
More than 13,000 people have signed a #SaveBenson petition online.
Actress Katherine Heigl has also offered alternative care at a rescue property she owns in another state.
Kelsey Hill adopted Benson from DAWG in Goleta a year ago.
"It's amazing the outpouring of support from people all over th world just incredible it really means a lot ot us because we really love Benson, he's a part of our family and if we thought he was a danger we would not be fighting this hard," said Hill.
The online posts don't say much about Benson's past and Hill calls what happened in October a "scuffle"
Benson was deemed dangerous enough to be put down at a hearing in Goleta that followed an October dog fight.
An online post said Benson was off-leash when he got into a fight with two leashed dogs being walked by their female owner. The woman was bitten on the hand.
Hill and her supporters want Benson and all dogs to have another chance.
She said Benson has been in a Santa Maria shelter for two months.
The judge continued the case until next month.