In a letter addressed to Judge John Baier during municipal court on Aug. 14 the City of Delta Police Department/Animal Control has requested the abatement of five dogs that live at a residence on Silver Street in Delta.
Officers have responded to this address on numerous occasions and at least seven incidents have resulted in the residents, Michael Blair and Sylvia Fantin, being cited for alleged vicious animals and other animal-related city code violations. The DPD/AC “is recommending with history of all five dogs biting, having vicious actions, running at large, not licensed and not having rabies vaccine that all five dogs be euthanized immediately at the owners’ expense,” said the letter.
As of the hearing, the five dogs living at the residence are: a black female chihuahua Bella, a brindle female pitbull Mia, a tan female pitbull Mya, a brindle male pitbull Marley and a brindle male pitbull Junior.
The citations date back to 2010, where Blair was cited for Bella biting a person off the property. In 2013, Blair was again cited for Bella and Mia running at large, failure to license, failure to vaccinate and vicious dogs.
In 2014, Mia bit a person off property, and Blair was cited for vicious dog and dog running at large. In 2014, Mya and Mia were found dismembering a feline in a front yard at a residence not belonging to the owners and Blair was cited for dog running at large.
In 2016, Marley bit a person, was tased by an officer and Fantin was cited for dog running at large, failure to vaccinate and vicious dog. In 2016, again, Blair was a suspect for dog running at large and vicious dog. In 2018, Blair was cited for vicious dog for a dog bite that occurred in the alley next to his residence.
Three recent cases were reviewed by Judge Baier at court on Aug. 14. The first case was from June 29 for Marley biting a juvenile on the leg through a hole in the gate while the juvenile was in the alleyway. Fantin was cited with failure to license and vicious animal. Failure to license was dismissed with updated proof.
Fantin pled guilty to the vicious animal charge, but was hesitant when asked what she wanted to plead. Later, she explained that she believes the cause of the bite was because the garbage truck had ripped a hole in her gate a few weeks prior and was only just recently replaced.
The second case was from July 19 for Junior with citations of running at large, failure to vaccinate, failure to license and over the limit of four. On the charge of failure to vaccinate she plead not guilty, claiming the dog isn’t six months old and thus doesn’t meet the code’s criteria.
A trial date was set to provide an opportunity for her to provide proof of her defense. After that trial the judge will take a sentencing on the whole case.
The third case was from July 22 with a citation of vicious dog for Junior biting a woman who came to look at possibly adopting him. Fantin plead no contest. She explained that Junior broke free from his harness, as he had done a few days prior.
The judge asked Fantin what her plans are and currently she has none, claiming that no shelter or adoption place will take them due to the victim complaints. She would like to “get rid of a couple dogs.”
In the letter, DPD claims that while Mya and Mia are on unsupervised probation for the 2018 case they’ve been seen outside of their kennel tethered but not muzzled as required. Also stated in the letter is that on July 26 Fantin came into the PD to speak with Chief Luke Fedler and AC Officer Mark Bowen and stated she wants to euthanize her dogs except Marley because “she is tired of al this.”
However, with the dogs being healthy most veterinarians won’t euthanize an animal just for being vicious without a court order. Fantin seemed hesitant and startled by the letter/euthanization demand, claiming that she wants to keep two of the dogs -- Marley and Bella.
Per municipal code “Nuisances prohibited,” the City may abate a nuisance by action in court. A nuisance is defined in the code as “any thing or activity which...constitutes a health or safety hazard.” Under Enforcement C, the City may “cause the destruction of any animal when...reasonably required to protect persons, property or other animals, or when an animal cannot be safely impounded. The Municipal Judge may, as a condition of ... a sentence, order the destruction of any animal which has attacked a person or when necessary to protect the public peace, health, safety or welfare.”
The DPD/AC also requested immediate impounding of all five dogs at the owners’ expense until the court has made their ruling. Since it has been several weeks without incident, the Judge Baier denied the request. An order will be issued soon, according to Judge Bair. If an animal bite occurs in the meantime than he expects immediate animal impounding and quarantine.
Absent a criminal court order, Judge Bair said he would entertain a motion of making a court order if Fantin and the DPD agreed on euthanization and presented said agreement to the court.
No update has been given on the status of the agreement.
An animal owner may be cited for vicious animal if the animal they own, have control over or are responsible for, inflicts an injury on a human being that involves a break to the skin which may be contaminated with saliva from the animal. The offending animal is placed on 10-day quarantine (isolated confinement) for observation of specific health symptoms relating to rabies, a virus fatal to humans.
While it is believed certain breeds of dogs are more aggressive than others, all dogs are physically capable of biting and injuring a person. All dogs in the city are required by Municipal Code 6.04.030 to be vaccinated against rabies. Rabies vaccinations must be administered by a licensed veterinarian.