Five dogs in Fresno County have been sentenced to death after they were found responsible for the deaths of two California men last year.
The ruling was made on May 3 and the dogs’ owner, Harold Matthews, 70, had five days to appeal the ruling in Superior Court. According to the Fresno Bee, Matthews appealed the decision. His attorney, E. Marshall Hodgkins reportedly argued that no one saw Matthews’ dogs attack the victims — Valente Lopez Aguirre, 58, and Robert Lee Simonian, 74 — and that neighbors did not complain about the canines.
Hodgkins also said extensive DNA testing yielded no trace of human blood on the dogs’ items that were seized as the result of a search warrant. Further, the Bee notes, “sheriff’s officials took molds of the five dogs’ teeth and hired an expert to compare the molds to the victims’ dog bites. The expert could not say for certain if the dogs killed either man.”
The Bee notes that Matthews has also been sued in Superior Court by the family of one of the victims and Fresno resident Simonian.
The Fresno Sheriff’s homicide Detective Hector Palma reportedly linked Matthews’ dogs to the April 14, 2016, killing of Lopez and the July 5 death of Simonian.
Both men reportedly died within about 100 yards from Matthews’s home on Barstow Avenue, near the Herndon Canal.
Officials at Rady Children’s Hospital and the San Diego Humane Society reportedly say the number of dog bites of children are on the rise in San Diego County.
“There were 457 dog bite cases reported last year at the emergency room and urgent cares at Rady Children’s,” Kay Moore, a nurse in the hospital’s emergency room, told local ABC affiliate 10News. “We are seeing about one to two dog bites a week.”
On Monday, the groups reportedly held a press conference to offer tips to parents on how to keep kids safe around dogs, including family dogs.