Santa Rosa Dog Owner Loses Appeal in Pet Attack Case (CA Penal Code §399)

Last Modified: February 20, 2024
May 15, 2013 | Rabin Nabizadeh | Animal Cruelty

Armando Flores of Santa Rosa found himself in a bit of a pickle after a state appeals court upheld his conviction pursuant to CA Penal Code §399 (failure to control a “mischievous” pet by using “ordinary care”).  The original incident occurred in December of 2011, when Flores’s pit bull “Blue” somehow got loose from the chain he was attached to in the owner’s front yard.  A nearly 90-year-old man, Flores’s neighbor, was evidently in his own yard that day with his black lab, which Blue promptly went after.  The elderly man proceeded to hit Blue with his cane, causing the dog’s attention to shift to biting the man’s left leg, costing him a short trip to the emergency room for a laceration.

The question then became twofold: 1) did Flores know that his pit bull was a dangerous animal and, if so, 2) did he take what are termed “ordinary care” to prevent his pet from harming others?  CA Penal Code §399 is a “wobbler” in the state of California – a person can be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor in the case.  In particular, a felony charge will usually follow the death of another person due to an animal’s conduct, whereas Flores only faced a misdemeanor, sometime in county jail, and a fine.

The state appeals court determined that chaining Blue up in the front yard was a less than satisfactory was for Flores to have exercised “ordinary care,” but what option did he have?  The evidence in the case reveals that Blue had been in trouble before – for attempting to attack other dogs, mainly.  So, the argument is that Flores should have been more careful.  We have to wonder, however, whether or not the pit bull breed, which has been discriminated against in the past as having a tendency toward violent behavior, was acting out of self-defense – the elderly man was in the process of hitting the dog with his cane when the attack occurred.

latest news

February 27, 2024
What to Do if You’ve Been Arrested for a DUI in San Jose
Being arrested for a DUI in San Jose, CA, can have severe penalties, potentially resulting in jail time, losing your driver's license, and other serious consequences. Here's what to do if facing a DUI conviction after being accused of driving over the legal limit and how a California DUI lawyer can help you resolve your case with [...]
February 25, 2024
What Happens When You Get a DUI?
Getting a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can be a stressful and life-changing event. It starts the moment a law enforcement officer suspects you've been drinking and driving. This can lead to being pulled over, undergoing a field sobriety test, and possibly being arrested. The consequences of a DUI arrest include legal action, potential jail [...]
February 6, 2024
What Can I Expect After Being Arrested for a DUI in San Jose?

Getting arrested for a DUI in San Jose can be a stressful and confusing experience. You might have many questions about what happens next and what you should do. Knowing the process and what to expect can help you navigate this challenging situation. It’s important to remember that a DUI arrest is severe, and the […]