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Fighting back

Two Schenectady dogs seized after attack kills another

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
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Fighting back


Rebecca Cigal says her 8-year-old dog, Templeton, was killed after being attacked by two other dogs while she was walking him on Dean Street in Schenectady on June 30.
Rebecca Cigal says her 8-year-old dog, Templeton, was killed after being attacked by two other dogs while she was walking him on Dean Street in Schenectady on June 30.

— Two dogs are in isolation at Schenectady’s animal lockup after they allegedly attacked other dogs three times.

The third victim, a 25-pound terrier, died from its wounds. That’s when police seized the dogs.

Now their owner is facing dangerous dog charges, and the owners of the dog that was killed want to know why the dogs were not seized earlier.

It began June 30, when Rebecca Cigal took her 8-year-old dog, Templeton, for a walk. As they strolled down Dean Street, police said two dogs leaped out of an open window from a house across the street, raced over to Templeton and attacked.

“One dog had one end of my dog, and the other had the other end of my dog,” Cigal said. “I was screaming. I didn’t let go of the leash, because I was afraid they would carry the dog off.”

A woman stopped her car in the street and got out to help, but to no avail. A neighbor ran to the dogs’ home and banged on the door, trying to alert owner Sean McKearn. Two other neighbors called 911.

Finally, a man on his way home from work stopped and was able to pull the dogs off of Templeton, Cigal said. The woman who stopped drove Cigal and her dog to the vet, but Templeton died of his wounds a week later.

During that time, Cigal found out the attacking dogs had a history. City police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken said the dogs attacked another dog in a similar incident Aug. 25, 2013. They bowled over a man walking his dog and went after the dog, McCracken said.

McKearn wasn’t home at the time, so police charged his father on that occasion. He faced dangerous dog charges, but McKearn was able to keep his pets, McCracken said.

He added that police have more recently begun a policy of seizing all dogs who attack other dogs — even if they don’t hurt humans.

“We certainly do now,” he said. “We’ll house the dogs until the case is adjudicated.”

The city’s policy was once more lenient — until a woman was badly mauled by three dogs in 2011 and needed 200 stitches to close her wounds. It turned out that the owner of the dogs had been cited twice before for less serious incidents.

Then there were several more dog attacks in which the owners had previously been charged because their dogs attacked other dogs. City officials decided to crack down on unlicensed and loose dogs in hopes of preventing more attacks on humans.

In Cigal’s case, McCracken said the dogs are also accused of attacking a dog in Niskayuna shortly before the Templeton attack. The dogs live near the Niskayuna border.

With that case against them, too, McCracken said the dogs might face euthanasia.

“The judge may just determine, with all the cases against them, they may get the big green needle,” he said.

But Cigal wishes she knew about the prior incidents before she took Templeton for his final walk.

“If I had known, I would not have walked down that block,” she said.

She wants the police to create a registry so walkers and joggers can avoid dogs who have attacked, “like a sex offender registry,” she said.

“If there are known events, there should be some sort of registry. Responsible people can make their own judgment where they’re going to walk.”

In the meantime, the dogs are being held in the new shelter built by the city to handle the many loose and dangerous dogs picked up by animal control officers.

McCracken said the dogs are in separate runs, each of which has a gate so workers can close off the dogs while they come in to clean half the run or bring in food and water. The runs are completely enclosed\, and there’s no way for them to get out to attack other dogs or people, McCracken said.

The dogs are a pit bull named Vic and a bullmastiff named Tyson, he said.

 
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