Charlie the death row dog is the talk of the town, but the American Staffordshire terrier’s victim is mending his wounds and has finally returned to work after more than two months off.
Stoney, the horse who was bitten by Charlie in August, is a retired thoroughbred. He joined the U.S. National Park Service mounted patrol four years ago in Washington, D.C., before transferring to San Francisco in May with his rider, Officer Eric Evans.
Evans, who trained Stoney, has been a horse trainer for the Park Service for years. He’s been with the U.S. Park Police for 23 years and the mounted unit for 18, according to the Park Service.
The day of the August incident with Charlie, Evans and Stoney were on a routine patrol in Crissy Field. According to testimony during a Police Department hearing to decide Charlie’s fate, the dog ran at Evans and Stoney from 200 yards away. When Charlie reached them, he stopped and barked before jumping and attempting to bite Evans’ leg.
Charlie was off his leash, but the area of Crissy Field is not a dog park, according to Park Service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet. Off-leash animals are permitted, but dogs must be under voice control.
Evans reportedly ordered the dog’s owner, David Gizzarelli, to take control of his animal, but Gizzarelli was unable to. Charlie then started biting at Stoney’s legs and stomach. As Stoney tried to fight off Charlie, he lifted his front legs and fell to the ground, throwing Evans off him. Evans was knocked unconscious for a short time, according to police reports and testimony.
Stoney then took off running and Charlie followed. They ran more than 1½ miles down the beach. Charlie was finally stopped by a motorcycle officer who used a police siren to startle the dog.
The horse was left with 13 bite marks to his legs and stomach, Picavet said. Two of his shoes were broken and he was on the mend for two months. Evans was out of work for several days.
“The dog was dangling midair from the horse’s leg by its mouth. Only when the horse fell to the ground was the horse able to get up and run,” Picavet said. “He’s a really well-trained horse. This was an attack.”
Charlie also had lacerations to his head and backside. He remains in custody after being ordered to be put down, but Gizzarelli is fighting that decision. He has filed an appeal that will keep Charlie alive until at least the end of the year.
The incident has attracted attention from around the world, with more than 101,000 people signing an online petition to keep Charlie alive as of Sunday. But experts, including the SFPD’s Vicious and Dangerous Dog Unit hearing officer, have said they do not believe there is a way to rehabilitate Charlie.
In a statement issued last week, the San Francisco Police Department said many factors contribute to a decision to euthanize an animal.
“The pursuit and bites to the horse’s torso are indicative of a desire to seriously injure or kill,” the statement read.