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Schenectady judge orders euthanasia for dogs who attacked girl

Schenectady judge orders euthanasia for dogs who attacked girl

Schenectady judge orders euthanasia for dogs who attacked girl
Photographer: Shutterstock

SCHENECTADY -- The two pit bulls that mauled a 3-year-old girl last month will be euthanized, a Schenectady judge ordered Monday.

The dogs were formally declared dangerous last week in an agreement worked out between the city and the dog owner's defense attorney. 

The decision on the dogs' fate, however, was left to City Court Judge Robert Hoffman. Hoffman ruled Monday morning that the dogs should be euthanized.

The owner of the dogs, Salvatore DiNovo, indicated after Monday's proceedings that he expects to appeal.

The dogs, Styles and Damon, both attacked the girl during a family cookout May 31 at the home the girl shared with her uncle, DiNovo, and other family members on Clayton Road in Schenectady.

The girl suffered broken bones in her right leg, a portion of her ear had to be reattached after being torn off, and she was discharged with a wound-vacuum designed to help her injuries heal, city officials have said.

DiNovo, 28, has 30 days to file the appeal. An appeal would be heard in the next highest court, Schenectady County Court.

DiNovo nodded when asked afterward whether he would pursue the appeal. He then quickly left without further comment.

The judge read his decision aloud in court. He wrote that it was clear both dogs attacked the child “without justification" and acted in concert to cause serious physical injury. 

The judge also appeared to well up with emotion while reading his decision. Hoffman referred to the attack as a “terrible incident” that “in the blink of an eye, went from normal to tragic.”

While DiNovo’s court-appointed defense attorney Brendan Keller fought to suppress the entry of hundreds of pages of medical documents into evidence last week, graphic photos revealed what city Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico described as “horrendous” injuries to the girl’s head, legs and torso. 

Both parties on Thursday agreed with Hoffman's decision to formally declare the animals dangerous, acknowledging the contentiousness of the four days of arguments. 

But they differed over whether the dogs should be put down. 

Hoffman, when issuing the decision, said the injuries rose to the level of “protracted physical disfigurement.”

The judge also determined DiNovo would be eligible for the girl’s medical costs, but stopped short of ruling him negligent. 

Falotico said putting the dogs down was the only option.

“I think the judge outlined the case really well in his decision,” Falotico said.

DiNovo continues to face eight misdemeanor charges under the city’s dog ordinance, and is scheduled to appear in court on June 24 for those charges.

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