The dangerous dogs seized by police last month have now gone missing.
The two canines leaped out a window at a Dean Street home, ran across the street and killed Templeton, a smaller dog being walked nearby.
The dogs had already been declared dangerous after a similar attack in August 2013. This time, police took the dogs to the new city shelter.
But then Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico agreed to a deal with the attorney for the dogs’ owner, Sean McKearn.
Falotico said the defense attorney approached him with a deal. McKearn wanted to visit his dogs, but no visits were allowed at the city shelter, which is minimally staffed. So the attorney offered to have McKearn pay for the dogs to be cared for at a private facility, where he could visit them.
Falotico said he agreed to the deal on the understanding that the dogs could not be released from that facility.
Then on Tuesday, neighbor Joel Gomez-Dossi saw what he thinks were the dogs that attacked his dog last August.
He and his partner walked by and spent some time staring at the dogs in the backyard, he said.
“I truly believe — because both Francisco and I looked at the dogs, watched the dogs — that they were the dogs,” he said.
On Thursday, police checked with the facility that was holding the dogs, Milton Manor, and the two dogs had been released, said spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken.
Falotico is trying to determine exactly who signed out the dogs and who approved it. But Milton Manor officials aren’t calling him back, he said.
An animal control officer went to McKearn’s house and searched it, McCracken said. He didn’t find the dogs, and police believe they are not being hidden there.
“It would be hard to hide a bull mastiff,” McCracken said.
But the family wouldn’t say where the dogs are now.
“They were not too forthcoming,” he said, adding that they claimed the only dogs at the home in recent days were a friend’s dogs being watched by McKearn’s sister.
“Ultimately, the police did their job. We investigated and seized the dogs,” McCracken said with some frustration. “The rest is up to the court and the corporation counsel.”
Councilman Vince Riggi, who has championed legislation for a dangerous dog alert, also blamed Falotico for letting the dogs go to a private facility.
“I have no idea why our corporation counsel gave his OK,” Riggi said. “I’m extremely disappointed. Unbelievable.”
Falotico defended his decision, saying that he agreed to let the dogs go to a private facility in preparation for euthanizing them.
“In my mind, that gave everyone an opportunity to say goodbye, because unfortunately we won’t be able to resolve this without putting the dogs down,” he said.
He’s certain McKearn knows where the dogs are, and he said police are investigating possible criminal charges related to removing the dogs from Milton Manor.
In the meantime, he is filing the paperwork to call a dangerous dog hearing. That hearing should take place next week, and the judge will decide whether the dogs should be euthanized.
“The judge will have the option to order Mr. McKearn to produce the dogs and have them put down,” Falotico said.
But Riggi and neighbors are concerned about what the dogs might do while they are free.
“What’s the liability to the city right now, if the dogs attack someone?” Riggi asked. “There’s people at risk right now, wherever the dogs may be.”
Rebecca Cigal, whose dog Templeton was killed by the two dogs, was also stunned to hear that they were free.
“I am amazed,” she said.
Gomez-Dossi, whose dog was attacked by the two dogs last summer, said he built a fence around his property to protect his dog after the attack.
Since then, he’s also avoided Dean Street on thrice-daily walks.
“We just don’t go down Dean Street,” he said.
Now he doesn’t know where to avoid.
And that’s the big problem, Riggi said.
“Anybody that’s walking on any part of Schenectady should be on guard,” he said.