Claudia Gallardo, 38, of Stockton was mauled to death by a pit bull.
Pit Bull Owner Guilty
UPDATE 03/25/15: Last week the criminal trial of Brian Hrenko was held and jurors began deliberating. On Tuesday, a San Joaquin County jury found Brian Hrenko guilty of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous animal that killed a person. In April 2013, Hrenko’s pit bull brutally killed 38-year old Claudia Gallardo, the mother of three children, when she visited his home to discuss her house cleaning services. Hrenko was not home when the attack occurred.
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Maier said that Hrenko knew of the dog’s propensity to be vicious and still failed to properly secure his backyard fence and post proper signage to warn visitors. The attack was horrific, inflicting massive face and neck injuries. Gallardo was declared dead on scene by first responders. During closing arguments Friday Maier said, "What a horrible way to go. To just be mutilated by a dog like this. To have your throat essentially ripped out."
The jury got it right and did the right thing. - Deputy District Attorney Stephen Maier
Brian Hrenko now faces up to 4-years and 8-months in prison; sentencing is scheduled for April 27. Prosecutors said that this was the first fatal dog mauling case prosecuted in San Joaquin County. After the verdict was read jurors shared their thoughts about the case with attorneys. "They felt that the evidence was pretty strong that Hrenko knew the dog was dangerous," Maier said, "He didn’t adequately maintain the property so the dog couldn’t get out," Maier said.
Pit bull owners in California should take special notice of this case. The jury convicted based on the owner’s knowledge of viciousness – testimony showed the pit bull had previous acts of aggression -- and the decision to keep the animal anyway without sufficient warning posted or a secure enclosure on the property to keep the dog from attacking a hapless visitor. Sources close to the case say that "Russia" the attacking pit bull was only finally put down in January 2015.
11/22/13: Victim's Family Interviewed
Family members of mauling victim Claudia Gallardo expressed relief at Brian Hrenko's arrest. Claudia's sister, Mireya said, "We all as a family just grouped together and, 'oh thank God, it's finally here. Her death is not going to be in vain." Mireya added, "I think about her every day. We were only one year apart. So we were very close." Claudia's grieving father, Juan Gallardo, spoke softly in the interview. Juan has faithfully maintained a memorial where Claudia's life ended.
Claudia's family intends to be present in court throughout the criminal proceedings. In October, the Gallardo family attended Kaylie's Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Dangerous Dogs in Sacramento. Family members brought photographs and writings by Claudia to hold during the vigil. Attorney Kenneth M. Phillips, who represents Claudia's three children in connection with her wrongful death, recently issued a statement on his website that provides additional details about Hrenko.
Of the 28 recorded dog bite fatalities so far this year, 6 resulted in criminal charges, 50% of which stem from California. 100% of dog bite fatalities resulting in charges this year involve pit bulls.
11/21/13: Involuntary Manslaughter
Seven months after a pit bull named "Russia" savagely attacked and killed 38-year old Claudia Gallardo in east Stockton, the dog's owner has been arrested and charged. Brian Michael Hrenko, 60-years old of Stockton, faces involuntary manslaughter and felony animal charges in connection to her April 11 death. Hrenko is being held at San Joaquin County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. Hrenko is scheduled to be arraigned in San Joaquin County Superior Court on Friday afternoon.
04/13/13: 'I Tried to Save Her Life'
Javier Sanchez Sr. told the Record.net that he and his family had just returned home that night when they heard someone screaming for help. They quickly realized a woman was being attacked by a dog in the front yard of a home across the street. Sanchez jumped the fence, ventured into the darkness and began beating the animal with a large piece of wood his wife grabbed from their backyard. The attacking pit bull, however, refused to release its jaws from the woman's throat.
I kept hitting the dog, but it wouldn't let go. I tried to save her life, but I couldn't. - Javier Sanchez Sr.
Sanchez told the Recordnet.com that he wishes he could have done more to save the woman's life, but the dog had already inflicted too much damage by the time he arrived. That night he only slept two hours. "I was thinking all night about the dog and the lady and what I saw," Sanchez said. "It was hard. I've never seen something like that." Gallardo's sister, Mireya Gallardo, said her sister didn't deserve this. "I don't think anybody deserves to die that way," Mireya said.
Olga Paez, the victim's aunt, said her niece's death has devastated and angered her family -- "It's just terrible. We want answers," Paez said. Detectives continue to investigate, but there are still many unanswered questions. It remains unclear why Gallardo was at Hrenko's home, whether she knew the man or if she climbed over a fence to get into his yard. Hrenko couldn't be reached for comment Friday, but his ex-wife, Gloria Hrenko, said he was "distraught" over what happened.
04/12/13: Mauling Victim Identified
Family members told CBS 13 News that the victim's name is Claudia Gallardo, 38, and is a mother of three. On Thursday, Gallardo was discovered dead in a man's front yard after being attacked by a pit bull named Russia. The owner of the dog, Brian Hrenko, said he didn't know the woman and alleged that she climbed over his fence when he was gone. A female friend of Hrenko, who was home at the time of the fatal dog mauling, said the victim claimed to be there to clean the house.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office has not confirmed the woman's identity, nor has it confirmed if the woman climbed over the fence. Hrenko was away for about 40 minutes. When he returned home, Hrenko said his female friend "was all hysterical, said Russia attacked (the woman)," said Hrenko. "She was all crying and stuff," said Hrenko. He didn't learn much more at the time because deputies quickly took him in for questioning. The investigation continues.
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04/11/13: Woman Mauled to Death
Stockton, CA - A woman was killed Thursday night after being attacked by a pit bull that has terrorized the neighborhood for months, according to authorities and residents. The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a dog mauling at 8:19 pm in the 400 block of North Lillian Avenue, just east of Highway 99 and north of East Miner Avenue. When deputies arrived, they found a woman dead who appeared to have been attacked by a dog, Sgt. Tom Rees said.
Rees wouldn't describe the woman's injuries, but he said, "there's a lot of blood" and described the dog as a "big, nasty pit bull."
Neighbors were horrified and angered by the attack, but not surprised. Some said the dog has jumped fences to attack other animals in the area. Rita Vasquez said the pit bull attacked her dog and bit her late husband. She said the dog's owner has more pit bulls as well. Vasquez said her husband reported the attacks to the Sheriff’s Office, but authorities said there was little they could do at the time. She asked: "Why did somebody have to get hurt for something to happen?"1
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Stockton has been trying to declare bankruptcy for months; looks like they finally qualified. This can only mean MORE bad news in MORE Stockton neighborhoods, infested with dangerous pit bulls.
"Since 2009, Stockton has cut its police force by 25 percent, Fire Department by 30 percent and the overall city staff by 43 percent. Given the soaring violent crime rate in Stockton, the judge said, the city cannot cut any more without putting residents in danger. Its police force is so decimated, he said, that officers "during peak activity respond only to crimes in progress."
"Big, nasty pit bull" has particular meaning in California given the volume of pit bull-mastiff and or pit bull-presa canario mixes (extra-big pit bulls) bred there. The breeding trend really picked up after the death of Dianne Whipple. Here's a couple of big, nasty California pit bulls:
No way are the clean cane corsos; most in America have been bastardized by pit bull breeders. In California, this goes without question.
I hope that this municipality gets sued good and hard.
Maultalk we are indeed seeing more of those "big nasty pit bulls" in California.
I am seeing an increase of Cane Corsos on craigslist.
Seven ads just today in the L.A. area.
Boy is this story taking a turn.
So, the guy has no idea who was killed on his property but thinks the woman jumped the fence looking for work as a house cleaner.
If anyone believes that I have a bridge in New York for sale.
I also just love how the owner of the dog will only care about the victim if its someone he knows.
Last but not least the owner says his dog has bitten but not really ever hurt anyone…..
Yep just another typical pit bull owner.
The video from truthbird above – the reporter says the owner of the dog said it was a Pit Bull/Bullmastiff Mix.
Dead people don't speak. Sunset in Stockton was approximately one full hour earlier. It was fully dark at the time of the attack. What might be remotely possible is that the woman went to the wrong house (it was dark)? The house cleaning story is incredulous along with the time of day it occurred. Who knows if the man's gate was open or not? Would only take few moments to walk outside and close it…
People canvass this neighborhood during the day. Especially if they're seeking odd jobs.
Which is yet another reason why I think the owner of the poor, misunderstood pibble is lying.
San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said they could do nothing about an agressive and dangerous dog attacking people and pets? That is an outright lie.
These authority figures chose not to uphold the law and deal with a criminal (the dog owner) and they now carry blame for a death that their failure to do their job caused.
Does anyone know if this is in a poor area, and these people were being ignored because the authority system throught they could get away with ignoring them?
The residents should have contacted their state government reps to report failure in the sheriff's office.
I wish that there had been lawsuits filed, such as by the man that had been bitten. Victims must all do this in addition to filing reports.
I saw that; I don't believe it — the dog's photo was submitted by the owner. I actually had expected it to be a California style "pit bull-mastiff" monster. But its nothing more than a full on ugly pit bull. Of course the owner has more than one pit bull apparently, wouldn't be the first time an owner submitted a photo of a different dog!
Here's the photo of "Russia":
Has anyone seen this yet? I just found it on facebook: BRIAN HRENKO AT AGE 41 —
I'm sure some nutter will see the picture and state "that dog is too big to be a pit bull! it is a bandogge (or insert something else) most obviously!".
Family members are talking:
She knew the property owner, had been over a few times, had met the dog before… Why was she over there, brother seems to be saying the property owner won't tell him why his sister was over at his home. — Aha and the dog owner is a renter. The property owner is a different person.
Claudia’s family says Hrenko’s story keeps changing. Now the dog owner knows her… Earlier, he said he never knew the woman at all.
There is a possible different Brian M Hrenko (60, years old) out of Stockton who was doing time in the Tuolumne County jail (as of April 9, 2012, no idea when he got out). He's got some pit bull pups among other things on his FB page.
Not too popular of a surname:
Ahhh. It looks like the same guy. The FB photo was posted in Jan 2009, but we don't know how old it really is (and there are many very dated photos on the page, though that photo is the least dated). I think jumping off bridges and being in trouble with the law has paid a toll on the man's aging. The tattoo markings line up similarly with the owner of "Russia" as well.
So the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office was more interested in protecting a long time felon with a lengthy criminal history over law-abiding citizens getting terrorized by his dogs through the neighborhood.
There may be more. You have to go into archives to see it.
San Jose Mercury News (CA) – May 29, 1987
POLICE STORM FORTIFIED HOUSE IN DRUG RAID
San Jose police early Thursday tossed a cherry bomb-like device into a fortified Santa Cruz Mountains cottage to storm the house, shooting a pit bull to get to the ex-felon they were seeking on drug charges. "It was like an infantry assault," said Sgt. Dwight Messimer. A dozen members of San Jose's MERGE (Mobil Emergency Response Group and Equipment) team surrounded the house — surrounded by what appeared to be dog skulls –…
THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE – May 29, 1987
A Mountain Home Raided for Drugs
An alleged drug dealer was arrested yesterday after police raided his home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which was guarded by three pit bull terriers and enclosed by a barbed-wire fence. A San Jose police special forces unit shot one of the dogs and confiscated three semiautomatic weapons, including an Uzi rifle, while serving a search warrant at the home just after 7 a.m. Brian Hrenko, 33, and two others were taken into custody on weapons possession and drug…
San Jose Mercury News (CA) – May 28, 1987
GUNS SEIZED AT MOUNTAIN HOME EX-CONVICT ARRESTED IN FINDING OF DRUGS AND WEAPONS, INCLUDING UZI
San Jose police stormed a fortified home in the Santa Cruz Mountains early today — shooting a pit bull dog that attacked them — and arrested a former convict on charges of possessing drugs and firearms, including a semiautomatic Uzi. Two crossbows, two daggers, a Mac-10 machine-gun pistol and three other pistols also were confiscated, along with $7,400 in cash, 3 grams of cocaine and an ounce of phencyclidine, or PCP. Brian Hrenko, 33, was arrested for investigation of possession…
There is a partial listing of his record here, non dated.
Snippets from the San Jose Mercury News article (1987)
Police said the main gate to the compound as well as walls of the cottage were festooned with what appears to be skulls of animals, possibly pit bulls. Police thought perhaps the animals died of wounds not inflicted by bullets because Hrenko's living room decor included photographs of pit bulls fighting. Officers, with a search warrant, found an ounce of PCP, three grams of cocaine and $7,400 in cash … Madison said police will ask the courts to place $500,000 bail on Hrenko when he is arraigned, possibly today. They want to be sure Hrenko won't disappear again as he did after posting bail March 7 when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and possessing drugs, police said. Hrenko, whose record includes a felony conviction for possession of PCP, also was free on bail from an August 1986 arrest on charges of possessing a stolen, loaded revolver in a car, according to Madison.
His track record with the law says a lot.
Stockton does a terrible job with dog attacks. My brother and sister in law were attacked by two pit bulls/ american bulldogs last friday night. I called 9-1-1- twice before they finally sent an ambulance and police. I asked why animal control wasnt coming for the dogs they said they are closed till monday. My brother and family have been at my home till date because animal control LEFT THE DOGS at the place of residence.(mind you they have a shared yard with their neighbors the owners of the dogs)saying they are quarentined till next monday. My brother and his family are fearful to go home since dogs were allowed to remain there. My nephew and 2 neices ages 3-13 yr witness the attack my brother has over 25 staples all over his body and cannot return to work till his wounds have healed, we are be giving the run around and being treated like we did something wrong?? What Can we DO. Seeing a atty on Tues. HELP
California has now sustained 37 Pit Bull DBRFS since passing their idiotic BSL Preemption in 1989.
I am repeatedly told BSL doesn't work though!
In the most recent article on the News10 site it ends with
"San Joaquin County Animal Shelter took custody of the dog."
Does this mean the dog still lives?
If they are keeping the dog evidence I hope its for the prosecution and not that someone for the defense has given this dog a "temperament test" and deemed it "safe".
Contra Costa County has a law preventing convicted felons from owning dogs over 20lbs….That may have protected the public in this case.
Yet the killer dog was kept alive, most likely at taxpayer expense, until this year. Way to go.
At least they finally killed the dog and didn't ship it out of state so they could wash their hands of it.