It’s been just over a month since DogTime.com first told you about Charlie, the San Francisco American Staffordshire Terrier deemed vicious and sentenced to death for biting a U.S. Park Patrol horse in an off-leash area of Crissy Field last summer.
Months later, after a worldwide media campaign, a donation drive, and the collection of over 113,000 signatures on a petition created to save his life, the city of San Francisco has decided that Charlie’s life should be spared.
“Charlie’s going to live,” owner David Gizzarelli told NBC Bay Area Friday after the decision over his dog’s fate was handed down. “That’s really good news.”
But the chance for Charlie to bark another day did not come without having to make a huge sacrifice. As part of the federally mediated settlement reached late last week, Gizzarelli must give up custody of Charlie — permanently.
“David made the really, really tough decision to concentrate on Charlie, not on his own rights,” Gizzarelli’s attorney John Mounier told SFGate.com.
As per the agreement, Gizzarelli has turned ownership of Charlie over the San Francisco Animal Care and Control, which will place Charlie with a qualified third party sanctuary or rehabilitation facility. Gizzarelli will be allowed only quarterly updates on his dog’s wellbeing, but will be prevented from seeing Charlie or making contact with any future guardian or guardians Charlie may have in the future.
In a statement posted on the “Help Save Charlie” Facebook page Monday, Gizzarelli expressed his anguish over losing custody of his dog.
“I want everyone to know that I was forced to make this decision,” Gizzarelli writes. “The dog hanging over my head in limbo, the deadlines, the powerful people, the smear campaign, the media bias, the lengthy negotiation agreed at 1:00 a.m., the recommendations…I had to give him up and sign all my rights away.”
“I’m very sad and 01/11/13 is a sad day in American history, to me,” adds Gizzarelli. “Charlie now has a chance, but I’m not sure about the future of governments, the political nightmares, and the organizations of humanity and civilization.”
Though he is heartbroken knowing he will never see his Charlie again, Gizzarelli knows that relinquishing ownership of the dog that he worked so hard to save was Charlie’s only chance at survival.
“I feel like I wanted more, of course, but I think I’m content with the settlement,” Gizzarelli told the San Francisco Examiner.
In exchange for letting Charlie live, Gizzarelli must also drop the civil lawsuit he has filed against the city of San Francisco. A U.S. District Court hearing will be held in April to determine the allocation of costs incurred in this case between the city and Gizzarelli.