The family that took two accused dogs out of a kennel and hid them with friends is refusing to turn them over to police.
Police delivered a court order to the McKearn family last week ordering them to surrender the dogs, police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken said.
The family decided to defy the order. Lindsay McKearn said the family will not budge unless they face legal consequences.
She admitted she and her father took the dogs from Milton Manor, where they were supposed to be boarded until a dangerous dog hearing in City Court. They brought the dogs to friends who do not live in Schenectady County, she said, adding that she believed they could legally go anywhere as long as they stayed out of this county.
Both family members have taken steps to protect Sean McKearn, the legal owner of the dogs.
“He doesn’t know where the dogs are now,” said Lindsay McKearn, his sister.
They’re hoping he won’t face punishment for not surrendering the dogs as ordered.
“Obviously, if he is held in contempt, we will give up the dogs,” said Lindsay McKearn.
The city will hold a dangerous dog hearing today in City Court, but the family will argue the hearing is illegal, McKearn said. By their reading of the state Agriculture and Markets law, the hearing had to be held within five days of an incident, she said.
The family’s dogs are accused of leaping out a window on Dean Street on June 30 and attacking a dog being walked on the other side of the street. The dog died of its injuries.
Making matters more complicated, the family’s attorney is on vacation and out of state this week. So the family is also going to ask for a delay in the hearing.
“Sean is not going to go before the judge without his attorney present, so he’s going to seek continuance,” Lindsay McKearn said.
But Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico said he will strongly insist the hearing go on as planned. He said the law requires the hearing to be held within a week of being called, which means it must go on without the family’s attorney.
And, he said, it’s not a criminal matter — the hearing is to decide the dogs’ fate, not Sean McKearn’s.
“They can bring an attorney, but it’s not the kind of thing where they get one appointed if they’re indigent,” he said.
Judge Guido Loyola will run the hearing. A decision is not expected today, but Loyola could rule whether either dog is dangerous and what should be done about them if they are dangerous. He could also choose to delay the hearing until the family’s attorney is available.