MODESTO -- A hearing to decide the fate of Bolt the dog has been postponed.
The 3½-year-old Alaskan malamute was sentenced to be put down by the city of Turlock after reportedly biting two women in separate incidents this fall. Bolt's owner, Turlock resident Dan Mendonca, has been fighting for his pet's life since the dog was impounded by animal services Nov. 7.
A hearing had been scheduled for today in front of Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Timothy Salter. But Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden said the case has been continued because the city was not able to provide Mendonca's attorney with requested administrative records in time. No new hearing date has been set.
Bolt's saga began after two 20-year-old Turlock residents, Macie Gilstrap and McKenzie Leedom, said they were bitten while at Mendonca's house. Both women went to Emanuel Medical Center for their injuries. Gilstrap, who was bitten Sept. 29, required a staple in her chin; Leedom, bitten Oct. 28, had at least eight stitches to close punctures on her face.
Wasden approved a recommendation from Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman that classified Bolt as "vicious" and said the animal should be euthanized after a Nov. 27 administrative hearing.
Since then, Mendonca has been trying to save his dog, in the legal system and the court of public opinion. He took his case to Facebook, launching a Save Bolt campaign that has garnered more than 9,600 "likes." A similar online Free Bolt petition has more than 9,875 signatures.
Mendonca contends that both women were drunk at the times of their incidents. He also claims that Bolt's brother Milo was the dog that bit Gilstrap. Neither Gilstrap nor Leedom would comment on whether alcohol was involved, but they said the bites were unprovoked.
Bolt had been scheduled to be put down by the city Dec. 11 but was issued a stay by Salter until the full case could be heard in court. The judge ordered Mendonca to pay the costs of boarding Bolt with animal services until then, which comes to about $6 a day.
Mendonca's family has set up a donations page to help pay the legal fees and boarding costs. It has raised more than $5,600. Last month, the family began selling "Save Bolt" T-shirts on eBay for $24.
In mid-December, Bolt was moved to a more isolated pen at the Turlock Animal Shelter. Officials said the move was for his protection. Family members are unable to visit Bolt in his pen, so they must stand outside the fencing. The city has denied Mendonca's request to have an animal expert examine Bolt.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on www.twitter.com/turlocknow.