The city of Redondo Beach has deemed a pit bull potentially dangerous and ordered the dog's permanent removal from the city following a hearing last month detailing three separate attacks.
Along with removing the animal from Redondo Beach, the city is demanding owners Scott and Monika Hoffman comply with 11 other conditions that include keeping the dog in a secured location and notifying other cities that it's potentially dangerous. They also must report the dog's location to the city of Redondo Beach for at least three years.
The Hoffman's have five days to appeal the decision to Los Angeles Superior Court. Requests for comment to the couple's lawyer, Theodore Frank, were not returned and the deadline to file an appeal did not come by press time.
UPDATE 7/20/17 2:45 p.m. City prosecutor Joy Abaquin said she received notice the Hoffman's have appealed the decision.
During the hearing in June, the 6-year-old pit bull-terrier mix named Bode was described as a loving animal and great with kids. The owner of the daycare where the dog attends said there has never been any problems. But on three occasions in its neighborhood, Bode attacked another dog causing serious injury. In each case, the dog either broke loose from the leash or escaped the house.
“I'm glad the city felt it was considered a potentially dangerous animal. I think it's a win for the street and the city,” Andrew Chen, whose corgi mix was severely bitten twice by the Hoffman's dog. “It's hard to say how I feel, though, because I have mixed feelings. I still have to deal with the repercussions of my dog.”
Almost two months after the most recent attack, the corgi Shogun is still rehabilitating from multiple lacerations to his legs and genital area that have required several thousand dollars in veterinary bills. The Hoffman's and subsequently their insurance have paid those bills. The Chen's still haven't been able to take Shogun for a walk.
“Even after the first attack, he was hesitant to go outside,” Chen said. “This was the second attack, so he's obviously pretty traumatized.”
No bad pit bulls, just bad owners
Jennifer Rosen, who leads Bullies and Buddies, the largest dog rescue in the South Bay specializing in pit bulls, said owning a pit bull requires an extra level of responsibility. Some dog owners just aren't up to it, she said.
According to Rosen, pit bulls get a bad reputation in the media and they are typically no more dangerous than any large breed.
“They really are fantastic dogs. In the right hands, they are amazing. I don't think I've ever met a more affectionate and forgiving breed," Rosen said.
Out of 36 incidents of dog-related fatalities in 2016 reported by news agencies, 22 of them involved pit bulls, two were rottweilers and the rest other breeds. Pit bulls and rottweilers also accounted for 76 percent of all fatal attacks reported over a 12-year period from 2005-2016, according to DogsBite.org which compiles news reports.
In another 20-year study, the Centers for Disease Control found that pit bulls and rottweilers contributed to more than half of the 238 dog-related fatalities from 1978 to 1998.
Rosen, who has adopted more than 1,000 dogs—among them mostly pit bulls but other breeds as well—said pit bulls are working dogs that require a lot of exercise. As such, many police departments are looking at them as K9 partners.
“They need a job and most of all they need structure and discipline and a lot of socialization,” said Rosen. “Obviously if he was that vicious he would not be allowed at day care. Unfortunately once he gets out, he gets that street mentality.”
Rosen said from her reading of The Beach Reporter's story about the North Redondo incident, there is no excuse for three attacks. At that point, the dog needs to be muzzled, she said.
“I can understand one time,” she said. “If you can't keep your doors closed or your gate closed, then there is a problem."
In one incident, the dog reportedly broke free from his leash while being walked. In another he busted through a temporary gate and, in the third incident, slipped through the front door. The home is located near a cul-de-sac, two houses on a lot in North Redondo, with no yard other than a sloped embankment in front.
After listening to the evidence and deliberating for the past month, Captain Jeff Hink with the Redondo Beach Police Department who presided over the hearing found the animal constituted a “significant threat to the public health, safety and welfare,” according to the ruling issued last Friday, deeming it "potentially dangerous" and subject to an administrative order outlining 12 conditions.
"Any violation of these conditions or restrictions within any 36 month period from the effective date of the administrative order may result in the dog being impounded and held pending a subsequent hearing," the ruling states.
On May 22, Chen was walking Shogun in the 1700 block of Harriman Lane in North Redondo when suddenly Bode came sprinting toward them. Unsure of the pit bull's intentions, Chen picked up his dog, but not before Bode bit the corgi in his hind legs and mid-section.
“It was terrifying,” Chen said.
With two other documented attacks, one previously against Shogun as well, Redondo Beach police officers responded by requesting the Hoffman's relinquish the dog. When they refused, rather than seek a warrant, officers pursued a legal hearing. In the meantime, Bode was taken to a friend's house in Hermosa Beach, where he reportedly still resides in the 800 block of Monterey Boulevard.
In another incident on March 9, 2017, Bode reportedly bit another neighbor's dog. The dog owned by Steve Fulton, according to reports, suffered a laceration and received a medical check-up, which the Hoffman's reimbursed.
Chen had his first run-in with Bode on June 30, 2015 when the dog and another pit bull came dashing toward him and Shogun. This time both pit bulls grabbed hold of the corgi as if they were trying to tear it apart, Chen said, and he too suffered bite marks on his hand.
“After the first attack we gave them the benefit of the doubt, but this is the third attack,” he said. “For us it's more about the immediate concern of safety. I am a dog lover. Unfortunately the dog is in a circumstance where I don't think it's in the right environment. I'm glad the city saw the danger of the animal and I'm glad there is some kind of safety back in the community.”