Fighting over what to do with River

A small honey-colored dog was found three days ago in Uvas Creek in Christmas Hill Park with her head barely above the water because a brick had been tied with rope to her small hind legs, said Hector Beltran who rescued the pup. He named her River. 

As River, the terrier mix that was rescued from Uvas Creek with a brick tied to its hind legs earlier this month, waits to be adopted, the Gilroy Police Department and the Humane Society of the Central Coast are in a tussle over who should handle River’s adoption and investigation.

A week after Scott Borgioli, president of the Humane Society of the Central Coast, stepped in to handle the investigation of River, including planning for its adoption, the GPD is attempting to take the reins from Borgioli.

The GPD says that Borgioli does not have the authority to handle this type of investigation in Gilroy because he does not have a legal contract with the city. Borgioli maintains he does, pointing to section 10404 of the California Corporations Code, which says that humane societies can proffer legal complaints about animal cruelty directly to the District Attorney’s Office.

Borgioli said because the police department hasn’t contacted him regarding halting his investigation of River, he has no intention of forfeiting his plans to adopt out the dog. River continues to stay at an undisclosed Humane Society-approved foster home.  

“We are going to move forward with adopting out the dog, and we would appreciate the police department working with us so we can bring the person who did this horrible crime to justice,” he said.

Borgioli said he attempted to get the police department involved in tracking down suspects on Aug. 15, but the animal control officer, Maria Cabatingan, has not returned his phone calls.

“We’re not trying to be cops. We’re assisting the community, not trying to be some rogue law enforcement,” he said.

Hector Beltran, the 31-year-old Gilroy man who rescued River two weeks ago, said he initially took the dog to the GPD hoping for a police report, only to be turned away. That’s when the Humane Society contacted Beltran to get involved.

Then on Aug. 15, 10 days after the incident, Beltran said he got a call from an officer telling him to retrieve the dog from Borgioli and bring it to the station, as they were taking over the investigation.

“I said ‘no way,’ and hung up the phone,” Beltran said. “That was their bad, that they didn’t do nothing about it, and all of a sudden they wanted something to do with it?”

Beltran said he hopes whatever happens to River, that the police department doesn’t get involved.

“They are trying to make themselves look good now because they didn’t do anything the first time,” he said.

The Humane Society has now received 66 applications from people who want to adopt River. Borgioli said he is no longer accepting applications, because he hopes to make a decision soon and have River adopted by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the GPD insists that Borgioli has no authority to adopt River out, or conduct any type of investigation.

“He is trying to do the right thing but not going about it the right way,” Police Sgt. Chad Gallacinao said. “We have some concerns regarding his eligibility to care for these animals. He has no law enforcement authority in the City of Gilroy.”

Borgioli wrote a letter to Police Captain Scot Smithee on Friday and copied Mayor Al Pinheiro and all City Council members, complaining about how the GPD has been “tarnishing” the reputation of the Humane Society of the Central Coast with their “negative” public statements in the newspaper.

“We just became aware of today’s Gilroy Dispatch and Morgan Hill Times article containing misleading statements from Gallacinao about the Humane Society,” the 1,000 word letter begins, referring to Gallacinao’s comments about Borgioli not having authority to conduct animal investigations in the City of Gilroy.

“It’s plain out wrong that your department is now focusing on HSCC, when we are the ones who saved your rear,” the letter continues, railing against the GPD for how the Humane Society protected police from “negative publicity” after they refused to initially do an investigation.  

On Thursday, Gallacinao hinted to possible criminal charges against Borgioli if he were to adopt River out without GPD’s consent, because it’s “not his animal” to adopt.

“Then we’d have a whole other investigation on our hands,” he said.

Gallacinao also expressed disapproval of Borgioli’s interest in possibly adopting River to an out-of-state family.

“I’m certain that we could probably find a loving environment in our community and we don’t see the reason why the dog would need to be sent out of state,” Gallacinao said.

Borgioli said he is not closed to the idea of adopting River to a local family – although he holds some concerns about it.

“The suspects are still at large and there has been a lot of media publicity about this, so we have to be sure that if we adopt to someone in Gilroy, the person is in it for the welfare of the animal, not for publicity purposes,” he said.