Opinion » Shredder

Do dogs' lives matter?

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It was like the Wild West on the 600 block of Santa Rosa Street last Thursday, Sept. 26. Bullets were ricocheting off the driveway as San Luis Obipso Police Officer Joshua Walsh discharged his service weapon toward an apartment building.

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What was going on? Was there a kidnapping, an amber alert, a dangerous criminal firing back at Walsh and his responding partner Officer Larry Edwards? Why would an officer need to fire three rounds in a residential area, just a block from the San Luis Obispo Police Department?

It was because of a dog.

Bubbs was shot on his own property for barking at police who showed up for a non-existent burglary. The 7-year-old pit bull-boxer mix was well known and liked in his neighborhood. He was even chill with the mail carrier. Now he's dead, and his owners—Nick Regalia and Riley Manford—are stuck with an $8,000 vet bill.

Where's John Wick when you need him, amirite? The fictional assassin played by Keanu Reeves came out of retirement after a Russian mobster killed his dog in John Wick (2014), going on a revenge spree. I'll be surprised if Barney Fife, er, I mean Walsh, even loses his job. Not that we'll ever find out what happens to Walsh—as SLOPD Chief Deanna Cantrell said, all of that disciplinary stuff is confidential.

Regalia, who works nights, was sleeping at 11 a.m. when Walsh and Edwards responded to a call of a broken window and burglary. Manford went out to ask the officers what they were doing there, informed them there wasn't a burglary, but Walsh—gun drawn and pointed at Bubbs—was yelling at Manford to control her barking dog. He shot three times, striking Bubbs twice while one errant shot skidded off the driveway.

Is this proper police procedure? Is that something we'll get to know, Cantrell?

Police Capt. Jeff Smith said if an officer thinks the dog is an immediate threat, they can shoot it. Um, what about the officer's baton, Taser, or Mace? You know, nonlethal means in the middle of a residential area.

"That's the reason why we have laws to keep dogs on leash and tethered," Smith told New Times. "We've had several dog bites and even fatal dog bites. ... You never know if a dog is friendly or not."

How would you be spinning this if that third errant shot had gone through an apartment wall and killed or injured a resident, eh? Or if a bullet had hit Manford as she was getting her dog?

Manford said she was afraid to reach out and grab her dog because Walsh was pointing his gun at Bubbs, and she didn't want to get shot. Which, I've got to say, is totally understandable. Why didn't Edwards, Walsh's partner, have his weapon drawn? Did he not feel the "immediate threat" that apparently caused Walsh to shoot Bubbs, or is Edwards a normal human being who could see Bubbs was just barking to protect his property and owner from two people walking up his driveway uninvited?

Let's lay it out here: If a mail carrier can make do with Mace to deal with aggressive dogs, you'd think a trained police officer could, too.

Take Walsh's gun, fire him, and pay Regalia and Manford's vet bill. And some mandatory training on using nonlethal force to subdue a dog (or, you know, a human)? This whole incident was unnecessary bullshit.

And speaking of bullshit, that's what the residents of Grand View Apartments are wading through as they try to find new housing after Judge Ginger Garrett ruled that the complex's slumlords, er, I mean landlords—Ebrahim and Fahimeh Madadi—could "go out of business" rather than make their Grand Poo Apartment (yeah, I said it) complex habitable.

Hmm. So they got away with running a dump for years, collecting rents and never doing maintenance, and now they're allowed to evict their tenants, sell off their property, and make fixing it up the new owner's problem, eh? Meanwhile, the nearly 200 residents can hit the bricks.

Paso's vacancy rate is less than 2 percent, meaning that housing is tighter than the Madadis' grasp on their purse strings. How are 54 families going to find new housing at a reasonable price?

Any way you slice it, the city of Paso Robles will feel the pain along with Grand View's residents. There'll be more homelessness, more police calls, less productivity due to missed work, and more school truancy. How can any of this be fair? Why aren't there laws that hold property owners accountable?

The Madadis should forfeit their apartment complex to the city, and a group like HASLO (The Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo) or Peoples' Self-Help Housing should be allowed to step in and renovate Grand View and keep these families under their roofs. I know—that's way too logical a solution. Let's face it: "Problem-solving" and "government agencies" too often seem like oxymoronic terms.

For Grand View's residents, just as they're approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas, they're about to feel firsthand the failure of local government. Ho-ho-ho. Δ

The Shredder doesn't care what people think of it, but it wants dogs to like it. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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