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Judge orders reprieve for dog

POSTED December 11, 2012 7:26 p.m.

The Alaskan malamute Bolt, the dog that has sparked a community discourse on the scope of dog owner responsibility, has been given a temporary reprieve by a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge from his slated euthanasia.

On Monday Judge Timothy Salter ordered a temporary stay for Bolt until his case can be heard at a hearing set for Jan. 16, 2013.

Bolt was taken into the custody of Turlock Animal Control Services on Nov. 7 after allegations were made by McKenzie Leedom and Macie Gilstrap that the dog bit them in separate incidences.

Since that time, Bolt’s owner Dan Mendonca has launched a social media and press campaign to save his dog. Mendonca retained the law offices of Carl E. Combs to represent him in the court proceedings to have the decision declaring Bolt a vicious dog reversed.

Gilstrap was the first dog bite victim at Mendonca’s residence. She states that on Sept. 30 she was sitting on the floor petting the dog when it suddenly bit her. Mendonca claims it was his other dog Milo who bit Gilstrap and that was because she touched its injured leg. Gilstrap maintains it was Bolt who bit her and that Mendonca wasn’t witness to the attack.

The second dog bite at Mendonca’s home was about one month later and caused significant damage to Leedom’s face. Leedom said she was petting the dog when it turned on her. Mendonca said Leedom was intoxicated and invaded the dog’s space while it was sleeping.

A city hearing on the matter presided over by Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman found the women’s accounts to be true and declared the dog vicious and should be euthanized.

In arguing for the stay order, Mendonca’s attorney said the hearing was not impartial because there was a perceived bias by Lohman and Mendonca was not allowed to bring in a dog behaviorist specialist.

City Attorney Phaedra Norton attended Monday’s hearing and argued Mendonca received a fair hearing.

The judge ordered Mendonca to pay for the care of Bolt while it remains at animal services. Turlock Police Lt. Ron Reid said the cost averages about $6 per day.

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