Bryan A. Cavanah is shown in a photo provided by the Fairfield Police Department.

Bryan A. Cavanah is shown in a photo provided by the Fairfield Police Department.


Jury acquits Fairfield man in dog-drowning case

By From page A3 | February 07, 2014

FAIRFIELD — It took a jury about an hour to acquit a Fairfield man of a felony animal abuse charge Thursday for drowning his family dog in the Fairfield Civic Center pond.

Immediately after the verdict, Bryan A. Cavanah, 21, who has been in jail since his August 2013 arrest, was ordered to be released from custody.

It was undisputed that Cavanah took the dog, a pit bull terrier, into the pond and held it underwater until it drowned. But Cavanah’s attorney told jurors that her client was suffering from an epileptic seizure at the time of the drowning.

A key defense witness was a doctor from a San Francisco hospital, who showed videos he made of Cavanah having seizures while he was hospitalized. Paramedics and police who saw Cavanah shortly after the drowning testified they did not see any signs that Cavanah had just had a seizure. The doctor said the symptoms of a seizure can sometimes be too subtle for those who are not specialists to discern.

About the time of his arrest, Cavanah – his clothes, shoes and a backpack he had been wearing in the pond still soaking wet – told police he had no memory of drowning his dog.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.



Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

Discussion | 7 comments

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  • Skeptic ScroogeFebruary 07, 2014 - 4:02 am

    So I guess that's going to be his defense when he pulls a kid out of the library, into the pond, and under water as well.

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  • my2centsFebruary 07, 2014 - 6:55 am

    So if I'm an epileptic and I know it, and I get behind the wheel of a car, have a seizure and kill someone, I should be acquitted!? Oh wait, it was "only" a dog.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 07, 2014 - 7:32 am

    There are plenty of epileptic folks leading normal lives. There is no reason to condemn this kid it isn’t like he’s a meth addict. It’s a sad case no doubt about it. Hopefully he’ll get proper treatment and move on.

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  • jbFebruary 07, 2014 - 5:45 pm

    I'd rather him be a meth addict. Maybe then the dog would still be alive.

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  • JBFebruary 07, 2014 - 8:28 am

    He will get away with the next crime he is arrested for too. Just go to show you what a sad society we live in. No consequences for ones actions. Give him another chance he will change for the better

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  • Typical County WorkerFebruary 07, 2014 - 9:33 am

    At least he spent five months in jail. Better than nothing.

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  • kcFebruary 07, 2014 - 5:42 pm

    Poor Dog. What if it had been a baby? This guy deserves to be punished and is using his medical condition as an excuse for terrible violence.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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