Judge grants stay for Troy dog involved in fight

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The fight to keep a local dog from being put down continues. Luna is safe, for now.

A judge ordered a stay on an euthanasia order by Troy City Court on Wednesday. 

On October 25, 2018, a 6-year-old Hound-Pitbull mix named Luna allegedly ran up two flights of stairs, broke through a gate and attacked the neighbor’s American Eskimo, Light. The dog suffered a laceration to its hind leg, requiring a few stitches. In the process of breaking up the fight, Light’s owner, Dylan Carpenter, also suffered a minor bite.

The following day, Luna was removed from her home by an Animal Control Officer and placed at the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. Under Troy’s “Dangerous Dog” law, the city has the right to order a dog be put down after one bite, no matter the severity. 

According to Troy’s Corporation Counsel, James Caruso, “On November 1, 2018, in Troy City Court, a “dangerous dog” proceeding was held.”

“After having been carefully advised of her various rights in open Court, Luna’s owner made an agreement wherein her dog would be euthanized.  The dog’s owner voluntarily and freely made that agreement on the record, and The Court made an Order based upon her agreement. 

“Last Friday, November 9, 2018, Luna’s owner made an application to the Troy City Court for an Order vacating the Court’s previous Order and reopening the entire matter for a full Hearing.  The City made a good faith attempt to settle the matter in a reasonable and rational manner that included the sparing of Luna’s life and the return of that dog to her owner. 

“The settlement reduced the fine, required the owner to muzzle and restrain the dog when it is outside, agree to reimburse veterinary bills to the family of the dog that was attacked, and require Luna’s owner to purchase insurance to guard against losses in future event.  These requirements are set forth in the City Code.  Tragically, Luna’s owner refused the terms of the agreement that would have spared the dog’s life.” 

Luna’s owner, Cade Saba, tells NEWS10 ABC it was a $1,000 fine, a “Dangerous Dog” conviction on her record, and says “Dangerous Dog” liability insurance in Troy costs upwards of $1,800 a year. So instead, she wanted an opportunity to have a hearing and explain that Luna is not a “Dangerous Dog”. Saba argues this was Luna’s first display of aggression and says she deserves a second chance.  

However, since Saba rejected that offer, the case was closed and the city ordered the dog be euthanized. Saba has since sought legal counsel from attorney Margaret Donnelly.

Donnelly argues Saba did not have legal counsel and did not know what she was doing when she gave consent at her initial court appearance. Saba says she was under the impression that was the only option.

Donnelly is now trying to appeal the case in Rensselaer County Court and get a stay of the order of euthanasia. A stay of this order will allow a higher court to review the decision of the lower court as well as the city ordinance in Troy which allows for dogs to be euthanized after a first incident. 

The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society has also hired an attorney, Jonathan Schopf, in a supporting role. They believe the Troy law conflicts with state law and is pre-empted by it. 

Mohawk Hudson’s attorney Jonathan Schopf is currently in Rensselaer County Court in a supporting role to the dog’s owner and attempting to get a stay of the order of euthanasia. A stay of this order will allow a higher Court to review the decision of the lower court as well as the city ordinance in Troy which allows for dogs to be euthanized after a first incident.
 
Mohawk Hudson’s attorney believes that the Troy law conflicts with state law and is preempted by it. Attorney Schopf will be making an argument to the court that the statute is overbroad and unfairly infringes on not only animal owners property rights in their animals but also does not provide for fair justice in certain circumstances such as this one.

Mohawk Hudson wants the dog to continue to reside at their facility and receive the proper care until this issue is heard by an appellate court.

On Tuesday, Schopf, Donnelly, and Caruso delivered their arguments to County Court Judge Jennifer Sober.

“A dog is a special piece of property, people. It’s not just a disposable item such as a lamp shade,” Schopf said.

Caruso argues that the city court judge thoroughly explained everything to Saba the first time around and that she knew exactly what she agreed to. He compares her regret to a case of “buyer’s remorse” and says she should not be able to take it back.

Schopf says since Troy’s “Dangerous Dog” law could potentially impose jail time, Saba should have had representation from the beginning.

Schopf said he was grateful for the Judge’s time and believes the proceedings went well.

“I think the judge was very receptive to our arguments. She certainly allowed us a lengthy presentation to argue on both sides of whether this should be heard and I feel that, ultimately, a higher court should review the decision of the lower court. Certainly, for something as important as a dog. As the courts have recognized, a dog is a special piece of property for people, it’s not just a disposable item like a lamp shade,” said Schopf.

Caruso says, “It is not the City’s wish to see any dog euthanized, but we take seriously the responsibility of preventing similar situations from occurring again in our community.”

Luna will remain in custody of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society until further orders from the court.

Light’s owner, Alexi Carpenter, tells NEWS10 that Saba has now paid all the veterinary bills of $533 and has agreed to cover any other medical costs.

“Luna is not a bad dog and the court should not have sentenced her to death,” she said.

She says neither family blames the other for what has happened at this point.

“We just want to live in peace and co-exist,” she said.

The city of Troy has a kenneling contract with MHHS, and according to a spokesperson for the humane society, the city has sent four dogs to them in the last 18 months. Two dogs were euthanized, one was released back to its owner, and now there is Luna.

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