A Sacramento woman's Chihuahua died last week after it was beaten by a man on the street, the Sacramento Police Department said.
The dog's owner, Chelsea Hall, said it died from the beating and she wants justice for her pet, Milo. But the man Hall has accused of killing Milo, dentist Brian F. Bolstad, said her story "is a gross mischaracterization of the sequence of events."
Bolstad speculated that Milo may have had molera, a condition common among Chihuahuas that leaves dogs with a soft spot on their skull.
As of Monday morning, Sacramento police were awaiting results of the Chihuahua's necropsy to better understand how Milo died. Bolstad declined to provide further details about the incident until the necropsy findings are made public.
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At noon Monday, about 15 people protested outside Bolstad's office. Their chants – "What do we want?" "Justice for Milo!" – could be heard two blocks down.
"We're not going to rest until something is done," said Erin Hinton, who organized the demonstration. "(Bolstad) has met his match."
During the demonstration, Bolstad was speaking with law enforcement inside his office, according to a policewoman.
Hall and her friends spoke with reporters and made posts on social media after the incident.
Hall said the day in question began like any other: taking Peanut, a rat terrier, and Milo, a Chihuahua she described as "overweight and limping," for a walk outside her home on Larkin Way. Peanut was on a leash, Hall said, but Milo was not.
While Milo relieved himself near some bushes on the side of the road, a man with a black Labrador retriever appeared on the other side of the road, she said. Peanut began to bark at him, and the man and his Lab approached, Hall said.
Hall corralled Peanut behind her, but said she didn't have time to grab Milo before the man and his dog were only feet away from them.
"Milo waddled up to the lab and they touched noses," Hall said. Then, she says, the man hit Milo with a baton and continued on his way.
Milo crumpled. "I started screaming, 'You killed my dog! You killed my dog!'" Hall said.
Neighbors congregated as Hall tried to see if Milo was all right. Milo's tongue was gray and he looked limp, she said. She listened for a heartbeat but couldn’t hear one.
A neighbor rushed her and Milo to the veterinarian's office, Hall said. The staff there attempted CPR, but ultimately pronounced Milo dead.
A police report obtained by Front Street Animal Shelter differs in some ways from Hall's recollection of the day. The report suggests that Peanut, Hall's other dog, was without a leash, and that the man used a walking stick, not a baton, to hit Milo.
In Sacramento, it is illegal to let a dog wander without a leash on property not owned by the dog's owner unless the dog is a police dog, participating in an obedience course, herding livestock or hunting in a regulated shooting district, according to Sacramento County Code.
When police officers documented the incident at the scene, they determined no crime was committed, according to the police report.
Hall said she has been in touch with the Police Department, local animal control and the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, she said, and has pushed them to investigate the case as animal abuse.
The police told The Sacramento Bee that they are still investigating the death.
Friends and local animal lovers rallied around Hall. They replied with supportive messages on Facebook and Nextdoor. They created a memorial site, with handwritten letters, roses and a cross, near where Hall said Milo was killed.
One friend, Brittany LaQuay, whose brother is Hall's boyfriend, made a lengthy Facebook post about the incident that has been shared more than 1,700 times.
Over the past week, supporters of Hall left more than 80 negative one-star reviews on Bolstad's professional Yelp page, many with slurs and criticisms relating to the incident.
On Friday, a newly hired security guard patrolled outside the dentist's office, Milo's memorial in view.
Hall said she's grateful for community support but has experienced anxiety and sleep deprivation, and she feels unsafe. "It's traumatic," she said. "My heart races, my stomach turns. It's the most stressful thing that's ever happened to me."
"So far, the only good that's come of it is the amount of support for Milo," she said. "But I want to see justice served. I want to see (Bolstad) arrested."