Three Pit Bull Attacks in Glendale Prompt City Attorney to File Vicious Dog Charge

ANIMAL WATCH-Well-known Los Angeles art gallery owner Rosamund Felsen (photo above) was arraigned in Glendale Superior Court on January 23, 2019, on a criminal “vicious dog” complaint resulting from the bite history of her Staffordshire Terrier (pit bull), named Bobby. 

Glendale Municipal Code Sec. 6.08.045(D) reads “If a vicious dog bites a human or animal, the owner or keeper will be guilty of a misdemeanor if the owner or keeper knows or should have known that his or her dog is vicious.” A vicious dog is defined under GMC Sec. 6.08.045(A) as “any dog which: (1) bites or attempts to bite any human or animal without reasonable provocation and endangers the health and safety of any person.”  

The hearing was continued to March 14, and the judge ordered that Bobby must wear a muzzle at all times when he is off Felsen's property until that date (Case No. 8GD04662). 

According to a victim who attended, "Felsen signed away her right to an attorney. The City Attorney then addressed the expectation of conviction. However, the court was mindful of public safety as its major immediate concern and mandated restrictions." 

Victims and other fearful members of the quiet, picturesque Glenwood North community question whether the order will be followed by Ms. Felsen, based on the three attacks from which they say she fled with her dog.  

In an area of lush green lawns and few fences, they fear for the safety of their children and pets, their neighbors--and themselves. 

ROSAMUND FELSEN 

On June 30, 2016, ArtNet.com announced “Rosamund Felsen to Close LA Gallery After 38 Years . . . She will continue as a private dealer.” The article explains that Felsen had relocated her gallery to downtown Los Angeles in 2015, after two decades in Santa Monica. 

Rosamund Felsen Gallery is now listed at 1648 Idlewood Rd, Glendale, CA, which is also her residence. 

According to the reports by Pasadena Humane Society, Glendale Police Department and  L.A. County Health Department, Felsen, 84, has not denied that her nine-year-old, male, dog killed a tiny, 7-pound Yorkshire Terrier and attacked two Glendale residents in separate, unprovoked incidents. On each occasion, she was walking the pit bull on leash. But in each case, according to victims, she left without providing her contact information or offering assistance. 

CITY ATTORNEY ACTS TO SAFEGUARD COMMUNITY 

Legal experts explain that a vicious dog (defined above) can be regulated in two ways. The dog can be declared "dangerous" and terms and conditions imposed, or the owner can be held to be a “nuisance” for failing to control a dog which attacks or attempts to bite humans and/or animals and endangers the community. 

Assistant City Attorney Yvette Neukian explained that the decision to file a formal complaint was made by Glendale City Attorney Michael Garcia, after receiving records of the three attacks from Pasadena Humane Society, LA County Public Health, and the Glendale Police Department.  

The City Attorney also was responding to numerous communications by residents expressing fear of future attacks, claiming the dog was walked daily near their homes or in nearby Brand Park by a woman who had demonstrated she could not control him. 

Community members also said they were disturbed that no apparent abatement action had been taken by Pasadena Humane Society or Glendale Police Dept. 

IDENTITIES WITHHELD TO PROTECT VICTIMS 

The identities of victims in the following attacks are known and I have personally spoken with each of them to obtain their permission to write about their tragedy. However, their trauma has been so great and their pain still so palpable that I did not ask them to relive it in conveying details. 

I also did not want to risk them being further victimized by advocates for the dog merely because it is a pit bull and thus has innate entitlement to impose harm that destroys lives -- physically and emotionally. 

The following incidents are described according to the information that was available or provided and any additions/corrections are welcomed. (You may contact me through the City Watch editor listed on this site.) 

FIRST ATTACK 

The first heart-wrenching attack was described in a neighborhood NextDoor plea on June 12, 2017: 

Dear Neighbors, 

We need your help to identify the owner of a vicious dog who is a real threat to our kids and pets. While I was at work today, our 7-lb. Yorkie was killed-in front of our home near the corner of Ard Eevin and Cumberland--from the bites of a vicious blue-gray pit bull/rottweiler as my wife and 2-year old were out front. Our dog escaped the hands of our little toddler for just 2 seconds in front of our house and our precious Yorkie was mauled. 

We need your help to identify this callous woman who continued to walk away after our dog was clearly dead. She left my crying wife alone on the sidewalk with my toddler and our dead, bloody Yorkie. Two good samaritans/neighbors stopped to help my wife and another ran after the pit bull owner to get her information but she refused to give her name and replied she "will be back tomorrow" and kept walking. No compassion, no empathy, nothing.  

Another set of neighbors described the dog looking like a Weimaraner but with a bigger pit/rott head. Not quite as big of a chest as a pit though. It is grey/brown/Taupe color. The owner is Caucasian, in her late 50s-60s, very slim build, very short salt-and-pepper hair. Warning graphic pictures of the actual injury attached. Please help us find her. 

I truly want to thank the neighbor that took our little Peanut to the Vet emergency services while my wife loaded my child in the car. I also want to thank M..... and another neighbor for trying to chase her down. If anyone knows who we're referring to, please respond to this post. 

A neighbor approximately half a block down this street is a retired Los Angeles Police Department detective with a sophisticated surveillance system who saw the post. He combed through hours of video on the date of Peanut's death and found the recording of a woman and dog that matched the description given in the NextDoor post.  

Rosamund Felsen was identified as the dog owner, along with her pit bull, Bobby, and contacted. But, while she admitted the incident, she denied any responsibility, according to witnesses. (The family is not now living in the home where this occurred, although they still own it.) 

SECOND ATTACK  

The second attack by Bobby occurred on December 19, 2017, at 7:45 a.m. at Kenneth Rd. & Cleveland Rd., in the prestigious Cumberland Heights District in North Glendale, just a few blocks from Felsen’s home/gallery. 

This was the first known attack on a human. The male victim is over 50 and is tall in stature. He appears to be in excellent physical condition, except that one leg is terribly bowed and he walks with a limp that is painful to watch. He held a baseball bat in his hand and said, since the attack, he does not walk without it. 

He described that, on the day he was attacked, he was running on the sidewalk and passed Ms. Felsen and her large grey Pit Bull, which lunged and bit him. The dog bit his leg numerous times and brought him back down to the ground each time he tried to get up. 

The dog then clamped onto his leg and would not release. Finally, a nearby resident came with a metal bar and pried the dog’s jaws loose, forcing him to release his hold on the victim, who was bleeding profusely as he lay on the ground.  

He said the woman just left the scene with her dog, saying she would "be back tomorrow," and he learned her identity from a witness. 

Subsequently, the Bite Report for LA County Public Health was signed by Rosamund Felsen, as the dog's owner on December 29, 2017. 

When I spoke to him, he described that it took two months for his wounds to close. He said he is also seeing a counselor regularly for the emotional trauma. It appears he will never run again. 

THIRD ATTACK 

The third person says he became a victim because of Felsen's deliberate failure to "responsibly advise him" that her dog had a history of prior attacks. He states that he was invited by Felsen to accompany her and her dog on a morning walk on October 8, 2018 and discuss a planned opening of a new art gallery. 

At approximately 7:35 a.m. on Oct 8, 2018, I was walking northbound on Highland Ave in Glendale, California to meet with Rosamund Felsen, a renowned gallerist in Los Angeles. We had corresponded through email and phone to schedule a time to meet and walk for the purposes of discussing the reopening of her Gallery space on Jefferson Ave where she expressed interest in retaining my event photography services.    

She advised that I meet her on Cumberland and Highland. I had never met the dog before. When I innocently petted the pit bull who greeted me, the dog viciously lurched at me; however, Rosamund said it was play that it was his way [of showing] that he liked me. 

We continued walking along Cumberland, having an amicable conversation. However, within a few blocks--east of Ard Eevin and Ben Lomond--suddenly and without warning Rosamund's pit bull quickly crossed the owner’s path and lunged for me from her side and bit hard into my rib cage bringing me down to the ground. 

I knew at that moment, I was in a fight for my life. Within seconds the pit bull attacked me for a second time, biting into my hip taking another more predaceous deeper bite. I was terrified and in extreme pain. Each time the Pit Bull would bite he would drag me down onto the ground working upward toward the vulnerabilities of my neck face and hands. The pain was excruciating. I felt pain, then nausea followed by faint dizziness. I finally managed to get behind a thorny bush, which stopped the dog.

After being attacked, I was unable to walk. I fell to the curb as blood continued to soak from all parts of my tracksuit.  
 

Rosamund apologized for what happened, stating she "wished this never happened" and then walked away with the dog.

I immediately returned to my studio nearby and dialed 911. Several minutes later, the Glendale Police, Fire and Rescue squad responded and transported me to St Joseph Providence Hospital Emergency Room, and I as admitted to the hospital. 

ADDITIONAL CONCERN EXPRESSED 

A resident of this community, who is a well-known celebrity, expressed deep concern over the safety of his children and dog, who play in the front yard near this location. In discussion, he expressed concern that Felsen and Grant Mudford (also noted as an owner of Bobby on one bite form) recently moved to this neighborhood and that the dog could have had a prior record of attacks. 

 --The Glendale MLS shows that the current residence property at 1648 Idlewood Rd., Glendale, was purchased on September 22, 2016. 

--Redfin records show that Rosamund Felsen and Grant Mudford sold a home at 4151 Dundee Drive, in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles on August 31, 2016. 

Another concerned party sent a link to a Facebook 

page for Rosamund  Felsen, with the comment on September 25, 2013, "Reminds me of Bluey" above a video post of a playful kitten taking on pit bull shown on CNN.com. A kitten and a pit bull are the best of friends. 

The question was posed, who was "Bluey"? 

LA DOG BITE ATTORNEY PERSPECTIVE 

Kenneth M. Phillips, L.A.'s Dog-Bite Attorney, and leading expert in CA dog-bite law, opines: 

The law tells us that we must not kill, trap or beat marauding dogs, and people who have defended themselves against marauding dogs have faced criminal prosecution. Yet many neighborhoods are under siege because the authorities are underfunded or unwilling to take action against bad dogs and their irresponsible owners. 

Any dog that repeatedly attacks people should be confiscated and put down. Additionally, a dog that attacks other dogs is a danger to people, and must be dealt with, because it is in our "genes" to protect our companion animals. We even prosecute people who simply attend an organized dog fight because we find it so repulsive for dogs to hurt each other. So, it is wrong to look the other way when we learn that a particular dog has harmed people and pets. 

I have successfully sued animal control departments and police that failed to take dangerous dogs off the street. An animal control officer who fails to cite an irresponsible dog owner puts the community in danger and risks costing the city or county a lot of money in a lawsuit.  

GLENDALE'S ANIMAL CONTROL DILEMMA 

Neither the Media/Public Information office for Pasadena Humane Society nor Glendale Police Department responded to my request for comment on this case. 

The dilemma is a bifurcation in responsibilities/duties with regard to "animal emergencies." The lengthy call menu provided by Pasadena Humane -- after offering a chance to donate or volunteer -- finally advises, "For any animal-related emergency, call 911." This triggers response by Glendale Police Department, which has many other calls needing attention. 

While Pasadena Humane Society has trained humane officers who can enforce laws regarding animal attacks and are equipped to capture and control a dangerous dog, there is no indication Glendale PD has anyone to send other than a police officer whose only equipment to stop the dog(s) from maiming or killing is a gun. 

No officer wants to shoot a dog -- from a moral standpoint, and because of the negative publicity (even if he or she saves a human or animal life) and the hours of investigation and paperwork. 

It is good that Glendale has a City Attorney willing to address the issue of Rosamund Felsen's pit bull or any vicious/dangerous dog. However, if Pasadena Humane is not going to address animal/human emergencies, then the police department should receive funding to add a 24-hour animal-control unit on its staff for community safety. The City should not wait until another attack kills a beloved pet or results in a human casualty.

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a contributor to CityWatch and a former LA City employee. She is currently employed by the U.S. Postal Service.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.