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Monday, June 29, 2009

Fiona, the Vicious Mastiff Featured In SF Weekly Cover Story, Seized By Animal Control

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge Fiona the mastiff's Animal Control intake photo - SFACC
  • Fiona the mastiff's Animal Control intake photo
In our recent cover story, "Service With a Snarl," we concluded with a look at "Vicious and Dangerous Dog Court" and the case of Fiona -- a massive Italian Mastiff its owner was intent upon having declared a service animal despite the giant dog's history of biting and lunging at people.

In a decision police told SF Weekly was very close, Sergeant. Bill Herndon opted not to euthanize Fiona, but release her back to owner Heather Morris -- with the caveat that the dog, now officially declared "Vicious and Dangerous" must wear a muzzle at all times.

This went poorly. As noted in our story, Morris was twice cited for walking the dog without a muzzle -- and, on one occasion, fled the scene and left the dog with the Animal Control Officer, according to Officer John Denny of the San Francisco Police Department's Vicious and Dangerous Animal Unit. Last week, the SFPD issued a seizure order on Fiona after a woman complained the unmuzzled dog lunged at her and tried to bite. On Saturday, Animal Control officers impounded the dog.

The seizure order was issued last week after a woman whose name the SFPD did not disclose filled out a statement earlier this month at the Animal Control Office claiming Fiona -- outfitted in a human jacket and with a cloth tied around her snout in lieu of a muzzle -- was recently tied to a parking meter outside Martha' & Bros. Coffee Shop on Cortland Ave. at 12:45 a.m.

The animal allegedly lunged at the woman, which prompted its owner -- Morris -- to leave the cafe. The woman claims Morris was angry at her for walking too closely to the dog.

Denny was mystified as to why a cloth was tied around the dog's nose (to say nothing of the human jacket). Animal Control officers have repeatedly lectured Morris on the need to use the muzzle and made certain she had one.

"Sergeant Herndon said to do a seizure order on that dog. You've got two cites for it not being muzzled and now a signed statement that it was tied up to a pole there on Cortland," says Denny. "Obviously, [Morris] is just not abiding by the order and the dog poses a great deal of peril to the public." 

Fiona will be subject to her second Vicious Dog hearing on Thursday. If the dog came as close to euthanization as Denny claims it did last time around -- then it's not looking good for Fiona right now.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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