SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KTLA) — A German shepherd has been locked up in a San Bernardino shelter for over a year due to a legal battle and is now facing a death sentence, the dog’s owner says.
Jose Sanchez, known as Pepe, says his 11-year-old dog Sheba was held at the Devore Animal Shelter after getting into a fight with a neighborhood dog in 2018. Sheba was declared potentially dangerous by San Bernardino County officials, who placed terms and conditions for letting Sanchez keep her.
“One of those was that she never escape home again. Unfortunately, she did, and based on that, they can declare her vicious and they may kill her,” said animal rights attorney Marla Tauscher, who is involved in the case.
Tauscher says they are not asking for Sheba to be returned to Sanchez, but rather they are asking for the dog not to be killed.
Sanchez drives 40 miles each way for his limited visits with Sheba, which last for only five minutes.
“As you might have been made aware by Sheba’s advocates, Sheba’s owner spends time with Sheba three times a week and brings her treats,” county spokesperson David Wert said in an email. “Because of Sheba’s designation as a vicious dog, the direct physical contact she is allowed to have with her owner and other humans, including shelter staff, is limited.”
“No one likes the idea of Sheba being impounded this long,” Wert said. “Court delays the County has had nothing to do with have dragged this out far longer than the County would prefer.”
Sanchez’s original lawyer mistakenly submitted their case under California law, not county law. That was followed by an extended period of courts being closed due to the coronavirus.
The case caught the attention of many animal rights advocates, including Priscilla Presley, who is working to help Sanchez.
“The county wants the dog to go down, and now they want to kill her, basically to teach Pepe a lesson,” said Presley. “I think a lot of this has become abuse of power.”
“It takes a group of people like us, you know, to fight it and hope that we can win this case.” Presley said.
The final hearing for Sheba’s fate is scheduled for Sept. 11. Sanchez’s advocates have created a website with more information about the case.