Sutter County Board of Supervisors Votes to Revoke GSRSV's Use Permit, Effective 3-26-18 (posted 9-27-17)
At a public hearing on Sept 26, the Sutter County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted to revoke the Use Permit that enables German Shepherd Rescue of Sacramento Valley (GSRSV) to house up to 30 dogs at its rescue ranch in Pleasant Grove. The Use Permit will remain in effect for six months from the hearing date, providing GSRSV complies w/ the conditions of the Use Permit. Without the Use Permit, GSRSV will only be allowed to have four dogs on the property, effectively shutting down the operation I've conducted here since July 2003--which is as much a sanctuary as it is a halfway house for adoptable dogs.
The reason the BOS revoked GSRSV's Use Permit is that during a period spanning approx April thru July 2017, one of my dogs (Rusty) found his way off my property on several occasions and allegedly killed a large number of chickens belonging to a nearby couple, Les & Kathryn Hintz. Additionally, Sutter Animal Services Authority (animal control) impounded another one of my dogs (Nar) on three different occasions for showing up at the Hintz's property and allegedly killing chickens. (Unlike Rusty, Nar would show up during the day and come right to the Hintz's, where they would then tether him until animal control arrived.)
On April 20, Les Hintz showed up at my front gate and told me that one of my dogs--and he identified Rusty who was at the gate--had been killing some of his chickens. I rescued Rusty back in 2010, and to my knowledge he had only been off of my property once--in spite of the fact that he could easily go over any of my perimeter fences. I felt that this was a case of mistaken identity.
On May 14, I personally visited the Hintz's property to observe about 50 dead chickens. Les Hintz told me how he had chased a dog off his property late at night and saw it run behind my property and jump the gate. It started to appear that Rusty was in fact involved in the chicken killing, though I doubted (and still doubt) that he was the sole culprit.
On May 15, I voluntarily paid the Hintz's $4,010 for the alleged loss of 152 chickens ($26.38 per chicken), with no photographic evidence provided that it was my dogs involved and no evidence that other people's dogs--and especially coyotes--were not involved in the slaughter of their free-ranging chickens. In addition to showing good faith and responsibility, I was hoping the $4,010 payment would make Les Hintz think twice about shooting any of my dogs that showed up on his property and tried to kill chickens--which he told me he was actively seeking to do. Unbeknownst to me, the Hintz's were meanwhile filing complaints with animal control and the County planning department to build a case against me. It was the Hintz's clear intention to shut down GSRSV.
On June 22, Les Hintz claimed that my dogs had killed 52 more of his chickens, and that I owed him $2255 ($43.37 per chicken). I asked him to provide me with some photographic evidence that it was my dogs killing his chickens. Les Hintz texted me a picture taken w/ a motion-activated camera at about 3:30 AM of a German Shepherd moving away from the camera, with his face partially visible. While this did look like it might be Rusty, it was by no means conclusive. This was the last of my correspondences with Les Hintz. I did not pay him the $2255 he was asking for--I felt that he was playing an extortion game.
In addition to filing numerous complaints against me w/ animal control and the County planning dept, the Hintz's sued me in Small Claims Court for $9500 for the alleged loss of "more than 400 chickens." During the trial on August 3, the Hintz's provided a considerable number of pictures of Rusty on their property late at night taken by motion-activated cameras. I was allowed to view all these pictures, and of well over 100 pictures, ONLY ONE showed Rusty attacking or eating a chicken! Further, only one other picture showed any other of my dogs on the Hintz's property; that DAYTIME picture--taken with a regular camera--showed Nar tied up awaiting animal control to arrive.
The judge hearing the Small Claims Court case initially grilled Les Hintz for not knowing precisely how many chickens had been killed, and for not being able to specify the precise market value of the chickens. When the judge asked for precise figures, the Hintz's came up with 264 chickens verifiably killed SINCE THE KILLING BEGAN, and an average market value of $35 per chicken. Based on these figures, the judge awarded the Hintz's $9240 plus $105 court costs. Amazingly, even though I told the judge that I had already paid the Hintz's $4,010 for the loss of 152 chickens, HE DID NOT DEDUCT THAT AMOUNT FROM THE AWARD!
Though I intended to appeal the judge's decision, I waited until what I thought was the last day of the 30 appeal period only to discover that the deadline had past. I misinterpreted the "date of mailing"--I based it on the postmark of the decision notice, when in fact it was the day the court processed the notice--four days prior to the postmark date. Apparently, there is no recourse to appeal a Small Claims Court decision after the 30 day appeal period has past.
Prior to the Sept 26
public hearing, there were lots of people who wrote letters to the BOS imploring
them to not revoke my permit, and several people testified on my behalf at the
hearing, but I knew that those pleas would not outweigh the concerns the BOS had
that some of my dogs had been getting off my property and that at least one was
killing chickens. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and Les & Kathryn Hintz
have been squawking louder than any chicken ever could to animal control and the
County planning department. In one of my neighbor's words, Les Hintz is "rabid",
and I couldn't agree more.
I have no intentions of remaining here in Pleasant Grove without being able to take in homeless dogs as needed, so am looking to move out of Sutter County--and likely, out of California--to continue rescuing and providing sanctuary for at-risk German Shepherds. Central Oregon (Bend/Redmond area) is my first destination of choice. Ideally, I want to live at a rather high elevation--4,000 ft and up. However, many factors will play into where I eventually locate.
To those of you who either wrote letters of support to the BOS on my behalf or who attended the public hearing, I deeply thank you. The only silver lining to this whole mess is that I was able to read how much the rescue work I've been doing for the past 17 years means to many people.
German Shepherd Rescue of Sacramento Valley
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