A San Francisco judge on Thursday delayed the fate of an American Staffordshire Terrier named Charlie, who assaulted a police horse and was sentenced to death, and has been held in solitary confinement, with no trial or visitors, since August.
The dog's owner, David Gizzarelli of San Francisco, has until Wednesday to convince San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn that Charlie should not be euthanized.
"Of course we're nervous," Gizzarelli's attorney, John Mounier, told NBC Bay Area after a lengthy court hearing. "Our dog's been sentenced to death. Charlie is fantastic, and he made one, 30-second mistake." Mounier works for AnimalProtector.com
Mounier said the judge had been convinced by testimony that there were "new questions raised about realistic notice" in terms of what Gizzarelli had been told about his dog, and whether or not the hearing officer was impartial.
Taking the opposing side of the argument to what happened July 6 Charlie was off-leash at the dog run area of Crissy Field, is the city of San Francisco.
The city attorney's office is standing behind the Aug. 23 report by Animal Care and Control Police Capt. V. Guldbech.
According to police, Charlie "ran directly" at Stoney, a horse ridden by Officer Eric Evans of the United States Park Police department. Though Gizzarelli called out to Charlie to stop, the dog bit the officer's leather riding boot and also sank his teeth into the horse's left leg. Stoney then reared up and threw the officer to the ground. Evans testified he was knocked unconscious.
Charlie, according to police, ran after the horse for about 1.6 miles before another U.S. Park police officer riding a motorcycle scared Charlie away. Stoney had several bite marks and bleeding gashes to his legs, thighs and stomach, the report states.
The hearing officer, identified as J. Denny, then deemed Charlie "vicious and dangerous," and recommended that Charlie should be "humanely destroyed."
According to Mounier, this was Charlie's first offense. To garner support from animal lovers near and far, Gizzarelli has set up a Causes.com petition that has received more than 70,000 signatures from people pleading for the dog's life.
To see a video of Charlie, click here.