Residents demand action on dog stabbing

A month ago, a shocking tale about a man who brutally stabbed a dog at Fort Funston seized hearts and news headlines in the Bay Area.

At one point, it was “San Francisco’s No. 1 story.”

It did not take long for other stories to take its spot, but dog owners in The City haven’t forgotten the afternoon a 33-year-old pit bull owner allegedly stabbed a dog named Lenny multiple times near the Sunset Trail — and they are angry the assailant has not been charged for the crime.

Dog walkers in The City are upset that the federal authorities — who have jurisdiction over Fort Funston since it is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area — have not yet arrested the man responsible for the attack and have refused to say why the investigation is being held up.

The attack occurred around 2:30 p.m. Aug. 19. Accounts vary on what happened before the stabbing. One report was that it occurred after the woman, who owns the dog that was attacked, asked whether the man’s pit bull was neutered.

Lenny survived at least four stab wounds, but suffered a punctured lung and had to have his spleen removed, police said. The story spread rapidly among a tightly knit dog-walking community, and was widely reported. The U.S. Park Police initially said an arrest would be made within a week of the incident. As of Friday, no arrest had been made.

“[The investigation is] still ongoing and we have no comment at this time,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Jack Gillund said Friday.

Authorities have said the investigation is difficult because the only witness is the accuser. The pit bull owner has retained an attorney, U.S. Park Police spokesman George Durgerian said.

The man has admitted to stabbing the dog, but is claiming he did so in self-defense, said Nancy Stafford, co-director of the San Francisco Professional Dogwalkers Association.

“It’s a ‘he said she said’ case,” Stafford said. “But the facts are the facts. He stabbed the dog and he ran away. It’s very upsetting and a lot of people are worried. They’re concerned about him going to other parks.”

Dog walkers say they don’t believe Lenny attacked the man.

Linda McKay of the Fort Funston Dog Walkers Association said park goers are frustrated and “a little incensed” at the federal government. She said the accused man is known to walk his dog at Fort Funston and Stern Grove, though hasn’t been sighted at the parks since the attack.

“I assume he’s lying low,” she said.

McKay doesn’t think dog walkers are afraid he will return. They feel “that something horrible occurred and this guy is getting off
completely.”

There are worse things to fear in city parks, McKay said. In 2006, a 59-year-old San Francisco man shot two hang gliders, mortally wounding one, at Fort Funston before turning the gun on himself.

McKay recalls an incident in another park when a woman was attacked by another dog person.

“We get the occasional crazy,” McKay said. “It’s hard to know what to do with people like that, whether to take them seriously.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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