About that dog Charlie


Nothing like a dog story to captivate a city that has so much else going on. And while there are (sadly) dogs euthanized in this city fairly often, mostly because they're unadoptable or found to be dangerous, the particulars of Charlie's story -- and the press attention it's gotten -- has turned this one incident into a world-wide campaign against the Canine Death Penalty.

You can't call the City Attorney's Office about it; the voice mail is full. You can't call Animal Control and Welfare -- the lines direct you to an email address. There are so many callers demanding a reprieve for the American Staffordshire Terrier (aka St. Francis Terrier, aka pit bull) that nobody at City Hall can handle them all.

Supporters have gathered more than 100,000 signatures on a petition to save him. He made the front page of the Examiner. And now, insiders tell me, the folks who run San Francisco are trying to find a clean way out.

Let's face it: If the execution date goes forward, there will be TV trucks lined up all over, a doggie-death countdown, animal-rights protests -- basically, a clusterfuck that will make the City of St. Francis look horrible.

In other words: If you kill the dog, it's going to be a public-relations disaster.

But here's the thing: City law gives Police Officer John Denny, of the department's Vicious and Dangerous Dog Unit, full authority to order a critter euthanized. There is no appeal; his call is final. And he's made his decision: Death for Charlie.

So Charlie's owner, David Gizzarelli, has hired a lawyer and is fighting in court. The latest stay expires at the end of December. It's a long shot that a judge will overrule Denny -- but it's entirely possible that somebody at City Hall will try to find a solution short of the Ultimate Penalty. There are all kinds of options -- the dog could be taken away from Denny and adopted somewhere else. Denny could order that the dog be kept on leash at all times (an excellent idea anyway). It could be sent to a behavior-modification trainer.

Look: I'm not a big fan of pit bulls. They're powerful animals who were bred to be dangerous. They can make fine pets, but I don't think they should be allowed (in general) to run off leash in crowded areas. The city's mandatory neuter law is a good thing, and helps, but still: Treat these often-adorable creatures as constant potential -- potential -- threats, and you're going to be better off.

Yeah, the dog attacked a police horse. Lots of dogs who have never seen horses freak out around them; a good reason why the cops shouldn't ride horses into an off-leash dog park.

I'm not a dog trainer or behaviorist, and I haven't met this dog, but I'm generally against the death penalty, including for animals, if there's any other feasible option. And whatever the outcome, I can tell you there are lot of other people in official SF who are sick of hearing about Charlie and would really, really like to find a way for it all to go away.


People like Lucretia Snapples here are very ignorant about things they do not have any contact with. And, they also make these postings to incite emotional responses. Please do not feed these trolls but just keep to your point and message so that the positive comments about saving Charlie the Dog overwhelm the regulars that like to muddy things up here.

Let YOUR voice be heard. Not the trolls. Make them crawl back under the bridge or rock where they belong.

Posted by MistOfTheCity on Dec. 15, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

ra ra for our side?

How reflective and informed.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 16, 2012 @ 7:06 am

What's sad is that people who murder or rape don't even get the death penalty yet authorities are so quickly to judge a dog who was spooked by a horse & kill him for it. Agreed maybe it wasn't the most well trained dog in the world but it definitely should not be classified as vicious. Shame on this Judge!!!!! A person we are suppose to hold up as a higher standing, a role model, an authority figure. What message is this?

Posted by GuestKim on Dec. 16, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

Charlie doesn't automatically deserve death, but my God, let's not call a dog who boldly attacks and chases for over a mile "spooked" by a scary big 'ol horsey. Most dogs DO NOT react this way when encountering their first big animal . .barking maybe . . . full frontal attack and chase? No. The other off leash dogs didn't participate. Ask the horse what he thinks of Charlie's previous history of being "harmless" . .. .. . This is a multi-use National Park--130 acres all told, not a fenced off dogs-only sanctuary . .. .. the beach is for everyone, not just dogs. If your dog would do something Lassie wouldn't do, guess what? he doesn't meet the higher bar of obedience granted off leash privilege here. Yes, dogs will be dogs . .. for owners who can't imagine the potential problems with leaving off leash to a hope and a prayer without recall or dedicated training. .. . leash laws were invented. The public rightfully doesn't trust (and can't assume) owners to be smart or open-eyed about their beloved pet's capacity to do harm.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 27, 2012 @ 12:53 am

Yes it must be euthanized. I agree with you that irrational people who do not care about people's safety are a bunch of anti-social. Even if this dog would tear their flesh they would still save its life. Fanaticism.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

Lucretia, i understand where you are coming from but Charlie does not deserve to die for having an idiot for a former owner. He has permanently been taken away from D. Gizzarelli and is in a place and with someone who will take all the precautions that it takes to keep everybody safe including Charlie. He is an innocent pup that got into the wrong hands in the first place. I myself have a 2.5 year old Blue nose as one of my 3 dogs and he has a very high prey drive, that is why i take lots of care in where i take him meaning i do not go where there are lots of squirrels around. But he goes to Camp Bow Wow 3 to 4 times a week and he gets along with other dogs and is a model citizen in there but, i would never take him where there are horses because i already know what would happen. Charlie had already attacked a bunch of cows so his former owner knew what he would do so D Gizzarelli was setting this poor pup up to fail instead of succeed like we are supposed to do with all our animals and kids. This is not the animals fault.

Posted by Teresa McGill-Bowers on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

I have more compassion for the victim - the poor horse, than for this snake eyed monster on the picture. In my opinion aggressors, no matter humans or animals, do not deserve any compassion.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

No one seems to give a shit about the horse. Just this damn dog and its irresponsible owner.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

I don't believe that's true; I understand the horse is back on duty. What's your source, Lucretia? I could be wrong.

Posted by tim on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

with severe damage to its tendons and has still not returned to active duty. It also received severe lacerations to its belly.

You don't know a lot about horses Tim - they don't recover from savage bites which shred their tendons on their legs very well. All the dumb dog got was a kick in the head by the horse. Too bad the horse didn't kill it.

Meanwhile new info came out that Charlie had an earlier run in with a human. The dog has a history of aggressive behavior.

I stand with Stoney the Horse.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

Sometimes sh*t happens. Can you deal? Apparently, not.

Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

Big dogs, little city, bad idea.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

I just happened to check out this video on youtube, and lo and behold, an old San Francisco king of funk just happened to speak just the right words for this story. See for yourself at 0:49:

"Don't hate the black
Don't hate the white
If you get bitten,
Just hate the bite"

So I'm going to add: Don't hate the dog.


Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:37 pm
Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

it's the third video on the right.

Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:59 pm
Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 9:45 am

But I don't have any easy answers. If you allow the dog to go free, there's is a good chance that he will attack some innocent bystander again. And the next time, it could be more serious, even fatal. I also feel that there are a few too many irresponsible owners in SF. Let's not forget the most notorious case for which this city is infamous, the Diane Whipple case.


Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

Maybe if it is determined that he is indeed a "vicious dog", then he could be forced to be on a leash at all times when outside...but I'm not convinced he is a vicious dog yet. You could enforce that, kind of like a restraining order against a stalker...with penalty of a steep fine....

Safety first, but not necessarily at the expense of a life and a bond between pet and guardian....

Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

Since you're such a big fan of the power of redemption. Put up or shut up Daniele - teach some peace to Charlie.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

put up with what? Claim the dog as my own? nice use of your imagination, but not the outcome that has much bearing in reality. try again.

shut up? expected (from you).

But I give you points for trying.

Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 14, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

I was bitten by a fostered pitbull while walking another dog this summer. I was imjured badly enough to go into shock, go to the hospital and receive 10 stitches in my right hand. If I can forgive the dog who bit me I don't see why the cop in this incident can't as well.

Posted by bryce swan on Dec. 15, 2012 @ 3:08 am

Glad that you "forgave" the dog, so the dog can still wander around the streets until it puts someone else in the hospital, or kills a toddler.

"Forgiveness" has nothing to do with it - dangerous dogs have no business being in a crowded city.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Dec. 15, 2012 @ 8:22 am

"intent" to do harm. What you do do, however, is put down such animals and punish the owner.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 15, 2012 @ 9:25 am

"ability" to stop being a troll. All you can do is put it down to your own benighted weakness.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 15, 2012 @ 10:00 am

He rarely injects anything into a conversation other than a long stream of invective directed at those who always get the better of him - rhetorically speaking. His comments are written more to try and tell readers whom to read than they are designed to encourage interesting conversation or provide a counterpoint. He's absolutely worthless in every single way.

If you saw how this guy looks in real life you'd understand why he's such a miserable excuse for a genetic mistake.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 15, 2012 @ 11:23 am

Is it obvious why he is still a virgin if you do?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 15, 2012 @ 11:45 am

which he uses to post regularly at the Examiner website, under which he's unwisely posted his picture. He wears tortoiseshell, coke-bottle glasses and a canary yellow, Liberace-style scarf tossed rakishly around his neck. He looks like that kid who was just ugly, weird and mean enough in high school that everyone gave him a wide berth because there was something "off" about him - the kind who the guidance counselor was regularly trying to "figure out" but who also had him on a "watch list" for antisocial behavior.

You know the type.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 15, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

Wow. Maybe pot should be illegal & your you can actually restore some of your brain cells. Stop being sheep & everything you hear -- pit bulls are not vicious but the media only report the few stories that reflect bad owners & who suffers --the dog!!!! What about the millions of dogs who suffer abuse & become wonderful pets & all the stories where pit bulls have saved the lives of their owners. Including my pit bull.

Posted by GuestKim on Dec. 16, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

It's this particular dog and its crappy, entitled owner. I'm not anti-pit bull. I AM anti-Charlie, who needs to be put down before he injures another animal again or menaces another human being again.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 16, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

not for nothing they are NOT potential dangers ANY dog is a potential danger if something is going to spook a dog REGARDLESS of the breed they may bite.

Posted by JESSICA on Dec. 16, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

After suffering 13 bites from Charlie the Killer Dog Stoney has rallied and is back riding around the park.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 17, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

Euthanize the dog. It is vicious and has no place in the city. Let's be safe and not get irrational till a point of no return. Do we want to tolerate such vicious Pit Bulls like we did with the assault weapons? I blame the officer for not shooting this dangerous so called Charlie. Those who twitt and facebook are living in a world of virtuality not the menace of a vicious dog that refused to be controlled by its lousy nasty owner.

Posted by rafaelx on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

Completely agree! Too bad the officer didn't just shoot it, it was viciously attacking his horse. He had every right to destroy the frenzied dog.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 11:05 am

The writer of this article states, "Yeah, the dog attacked a police horse. Lots of dogs who have never seen horses freak out around them; a good reason why the cops shouldn't ride horses into an off-leash dog park."
Anyone who has lived in San Francisco knows that their are police horses in the Crissy Fields area.

I talked to a police horse person and he said the owner didn't even try to grab his dog. He was concerned about getting injured. What a jerk.

You as a dog owner need to be able to control your dog if it chases after something. Charlie's owner is the problem and the dog has to die because his owner didn't even try to reduce the damage of this situation. I'm sure there are other factors involved in this case, but not having remorse and feeling self-righteous is not the way to save your dog.

I love dogs, and I have volunteered with rescues. Charlie has to die because of his owner.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2012 @ 11:09 am

There has been an alternative proposed by Villalobos Sanctuary which is located in Louisianna...Charlie could be allowed to transfer there and live out his life at this facility.

I, for one, wish that this dog be allowed to spend his life at this facility, or any other approved facility where he an continue his life.
I understand that this facility has been on TV on a program on Animal Planet TV station, called..pit bulls and parolees. Apparently, they also have had several of Michael Vick's victims at this facility.

Apparently, however, the owner only wants the dog returned to him! He refers to his efforts as fighting to "win." The dog had a prior encounter with the ACC, which resulted in Charlie being neutered. The owner had not wanted the dog neutered. The local statutes, I understand, have specified neutering as mandatory.

I have not seen any evidence that the dog had completed any AKC obedience levels, so I doubt that Charlie was really prepared to be lose in a Federal Park in an area which does not have an enclosed and circumscribed leash/lead free dog park area.

The ACC officer has decided on putting Charlie down. According to local statutes, the decision of the ACC officer is final, with no appeal allowed. Unless Officer Denny changes his mind and allows Charlie to transfer to Villalobos, Charlie may make that long walk from his Death Row Cell.

Meanwhile, unlike Michael Vick, the owner is allowed to pay fees. I have not seen any provisions regarding community service. To me, he should be assigned to train dogs for obedience and as service dogs. Obedience training saves many dogs from harm or death. Obedience training is also necessary for success as service dogs.

I hope Officer Denny allows Charlie to continue his life where people can relate with the dog and allow him some measure of humane treatment.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 26, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

Any dog that attacks without provocation and causes serious injury should be put down anything less is irresponsible. I have three large dogs that are fully trained, but if one of mine ever seriously injured another animal without provocation, I wouldn't hesitate to have them put down. My three dogs saw a horse for the first time a year ago, and they most certainly did not give chase and maul it. Instead I put my dogs in a down-stay and walked over to the owner and asked if they may come see. He thought the horse he had out was too skittish and brought over another horse for them to investigate. My dogs don't even respond to seeing a horse now. The owner was irresponsible for not training his dog, but no dog should be allowed to hurt another animal. Put the dog down, and have this be a lesson for the folks that don't bother to train their dogs.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:55 am

I agree that if possible an alternative to death for Charlie should be found. I've followed this case somewhat, and I believe that a big part of the problem, in Officer Denny's view, is the owner's attitude. Just find his Facebook page and read it, and you may see what Officer Denny sees.

As for a horse going into an off-leash area, let me correct that misconception.

The area was NOT an "off-leash" area. There is no such thing in the GGNRA, where this incident happened. Any area where dogs are permitted off leash are officially called "VOICE CONTROL OR LEASH." Any dog that is off-leash in those areas is expected to be under its owner's voice control. Charlie clearly wasn't.

It's a fact that some of the Park Police patrol on horseback. They have a perfect right to do so, and it's expected that any dog in the GGNRA behave around horses.

Charlie chased this horse for over a mile and was intent on killing him. His owner had NO control over him either before during or after this incident, and has consistently taken the wrong attitude when talking about the incident. That should give anyone pause when considering whether he is a fit owner. Certainly, there are alternatives to killing Charlie. He could be required to wear a muzzle in public at all times. But would his owner comply 100% of the time? If not, there is risk to other dogs, horses, and even people.

Posted by Alexandra on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

To clarify the "voice control or leash" parameter: in the areas of the GGNRA incorrecty referred to as "off-leash" areas, a ranger or policeman can require a dog owner to demonstrate that his or her dog is under voice control, and if the dog isn't, can require that the dog be immediately put on leash. In other words, whether you like it or not, being off-leash in those areas is not a right, it's a privilege, and it can be revoked unilaterally. So, one could very well argue that the ranger on the horse had the expectation when he and his horse entered this "off leash" area, that all the off-leash dogs there were under their owners' voice control, as required by the law.

Posted by Alexandra on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

Dog treated as one of the best pet animal that provides a better security as well as entertainment also. But some pets are also there those are very dangerous in look. Those pets are helpful for the security purpose of your home where as the animals that are simple in look and very lovely they used to be close to the owner.

Posted by berikserlem on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 5:52 am

There is no reason here for an exception to the law as written; the animal should be put to sleep if that is the Officer's decision. If you don't like it, organize to change the law.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 05, 2013 @ 5:02 pm