STOCKTON, CA - Seven months after a pit bull mix fatally mauled a Stockton woman, the dog's owner has been arrested.
San Joaquin County sheriff's Deputy Dave Konecny says 60-year-old Brian Michael Hrenko faces involuntary manslaughter and felony animal charges in connection to the fatal attack on April 11.
The sheriff's and district attorney's investigation concluded Hrenko's dog attacked 38-year-old Claudia Gallardo in a yard on the 400 block of North Lillian Avenue that night, according to Konecny. The victim was found in the front yard with several massive wounds. Paramedics couldn't save her.
Hrenko's arrest came as a relief to Gallardo's family.
"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,'" Claudia Gallardo's sister Mireya said about hearing of the arrest.
Mireya Gallardo said her sister had a housecleaning business, and she had an appointment at Hrenko's home to bid on a job, but when she got there she was attacked by Hrenko's dog, a pit bull/ mastiff mix.
"We love her. We miss her 'til this day," Gallardo said. "I think about her every day. We were only one year apart, so we were very close."
Claudia's father has faithfully maintained a memorial where his daughter died.
"This not easy for me. It's almost eight months ago. We still remember her every day," Juan Gallardo said.
Even though it's taken more than half a year for Hrenko to be arrested, the family hopes this will bring out the truth.
"There was a lot of things said about her, saying that she jumped the fence and all these different stories," Mireya Gallardo said. "This is going to take care of that because my sister was a good person. She was the victim, so I just want to clarify that she was the victim in this whole situation, and I want people to see that."
Hrenko was arrested and booked into San Joaquin County Thursday. His bail is set at $250,000. He's scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon, and Gallardo's family plans to be in court throughout the proceedings.
San Joaquin County Animal Shelter took custody of the dog.