Wine Country, California

From Temecula’s The Californian of July 30, 2007

Pit bull killed by Wine Country resident

The task should have been prosaic for Frank Canson: Walk down the sloping driveway, open the 42-inch-high gate and grab the Sunday newspaper.

Instead, a ferocious pit bull that neighbors say has wrought havoc in this community of estate homes lurked at the gate, Canson said.

He soon shot it dead.

As Canson approached the gate Sunday morning, the 40- to 45-pound pit bull jumped up against it, snarling at him, the former San Diego police officer said, but the animal didn’t get over the gate onto his side.

Canson, 59, said he slowly backed up the driveway before reaching his house, where he got his 9mm semiautomatic handgun. He returned to the gate, this time with the gun, but the pit bull —- and two accompanying dogs —- had vanished.

Or so Canson thought.

He opened the gate, only to find the newspaper shredded, its pieces strewn across Meng Asbury Road, he said. He knelt on the dirt road, placed the gun down and began picking up the pieces —- when the pit bull and its companions returned.

Canson said the pit bull was within 20 feet of him when he began firing his weapon. The second or third bullet, Canson believes, struck the dog, who was maimed and struggling.

“It yelped, and I could see it limping,” he said.

The pit bull limped to his neighbor’s property, where Canson shot it dead.

“It was down, and obviously suffering. It was the appropriate thing to do,” said Canson, who, along with his wife, has four dogs.

Remarkably, the owner of that adjacent property —- Ralph Fonseca, 48 —- said he slept through the presumably earsplitting incident, in which Canson said he fired 15 rounds.

Sheriff’s deputies responded and decided not to cite Canson, said Investigator Jerry Franchville.

“You can’t just (shoot a dog) for sport,” Franchville said. “But if you feel like you’re in danger, you have to defend yourself.”

The dog’s owner couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Residents said Canson’s encounter was the latest in a string of incidents involving the dogs along Meng Asbury and Monte de Oro.

Sunday wasn’t the first time county officials had visited the neighborhood.

Fonseca’s 19-year-old daughter, Vanessa, had tried to calm the pit bull when it approached her and her friend recently, but it only got more vicious, she said.

Canson’s wife, Kelli, had complained to county Animal Control in the weeks before Sunday’s incident, alleging the pit bull and friends had threatened her.

“It’s been weeks that we’ve been menaced,” she said. “We felt imprisoned on our property.”

A neighbor warned Animal Control he and others would arm themselves if the dog returned, Kelli Canson said.

The department fielded three phone calls before Sunday, said Rita Gutierrez, Animal Control’s field services commander.

An investigator for the department believes the owners of the dogs were abiding by her instruction to secure them on the property, Gutierrez said. The investigator asked that the dogs be tied up, she added.

Yet, observers Monday afternoon saw the two remaining dogs roaming the streets, lurking near the Cansons’ and Fonsecas’ properties.

“They gotta do something, get them tied up,” Ralph Fonseca said.</blockquote


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