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http://www.nj.com/expresstimes/stories/ ... xml&coll=2

Dog bailed out of 'jail'
N.J. man pays $10,000 to free mastiff from New York shelter.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
By GINA VASSELLI
The Express-Times
Peter Georgoutsos finally has his dog back -- for now.

The Warren County man posted $10,000 with the city of New York to bail out his 5-year-old mastiff, Spartacus, from an animal shelter without having him neutered.

Georgoutsos was visiting friends in Queens on Memorial Day weekend when someone broke into his truck and Spartacus escaped, landing the dog in the Animal Care and Control Center in Brooklyn. A New York law mandating spaying or neutering for any animal in a city shelter has kept the dog from his owner for almost a month while a legal battle played out.

But Georgoutsos went to the shelter Tuesday and got his dog back.

"He's awesome," Georgoutsos said. "I'm ecstatic."

Georgoutsos won his case to get the dog back June 15, arguing that Spartacus helps out on his Franklin Township farm and should be exempt from the neutering law. The city filed for an immediate appeal, which kept Spartacus in the shelter.

The city and Gabriel Tapalaga, Georgoutsos' lawyer, reached an agreement Monday that gave Georgoutsos his dog back until the court rules.

"I'm grateful that my attorney was able to cut a deal with the city to bring him back," Georgoutsos said.

Paula Van Meter, senior counsel for the city, said since the city's appeal would not be heard until the fall, the dog should be released until then.
 
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Discussion Starter #2
some more info:

http://www.nj.com/starledger/stories/in ... thispage=2

Man bails out pet, but maybe not from vet
New York wants to neuter Jerseyan's once-stolen dog
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
BY RUSSELL BEN-ALI
Star-Ledger Staff

Pete Georgoutsos was thrilled to learn that his beloved brindle mastiff, a hefty 120-pound dog named Spartacus, had been found hours after a burglar broke into his vehicle and released the dog in Queens last month.

But his elation was short-lived.

Within hours he was told that the return of his pet from a Brooklyn animal shelter would be no easy task. Spartacus would have to be neutered, the city told him. A 2000 city ordinance designed to reduce the number of stray, abandoned and unwanted cats and dogs on city streets mandated the procedure.

The policy led to a heated and expensive legal battle in Brooklyn Supreme Court, prompting officials and animal-rights activists to question whether it is applicable to pet owners just passing through New York.

"It makes you want to hit your head against the wall and say, 'Stop wasting taxpayers' money,'" Georgoutsos said yesterday. "The law was meant to protect the health of citizens in New York City. But by neutering my dog you're not protecting their health; you're violating my property rights."

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur M. Schack ruled in Georgoutsos' favor June 15 and ordered the unmolested return of his pet of five years. But the city appealed the decision the same day, extending Spartacus' incarceration.

Since the appeal may not be heard for months, Georgoutsos agreed to post $10,000 bail and was reunited with his dog yesterday.

If the city wins, however, Georgoutsos may be ordered to drive his dog from his Warren County farm, located in Asbury, back to New York to be neutered.

"I'm the victim of a crime, and yet they want to fight me tooth and nail to keep me from getting my dog," he said.

Georgoutsos was visiting friends late Sunday of Memorial Day weekend while Spartacus remained Georgoutsos' truck, caged, with the windows partially open. Georgoutsos returned to find the truck broken into and the dog missing. He said he immediately filed a police report.

Passed in 2000, the city administrative code noted that 67,000 unwanted, stray or abandoned dogs and cats entered city animal shelters in 1998. Of those, about 70 percent were not spayed or neutered.

"While wandering the city streets, homeless dogs and cats reproduce at alarming rates, exacerbating a potentially unhealthy and dangerous situation," the ordinance reads.

It grants exceptions, however, for show dogs and cats and in cases where neutering can lead to adverse health effects.

Georgoutsos' attorney, Gabriel Tapalaga, argued the health exception in court. He said the mastiff, which already suffers from an ear infection, was struck by five tranquilizer darts and taken to the shelter.

"Any further sedation may cause Spartacus more harm," Tapalaga said yesterday, citing a letter from the dog's vet in Ridgefield Park, who advised against the procedure.

The city health department, which oversees the animal shelters, referred calls to the city law department because of the litigation.

In a statement, city senior attorney Paula Van Meter said several city veterinarians found that the procedure would not harm Spartacus.

"Neutering and spaying procedures are critical -- and humane -- methods used to curtail animal overpopulation in the city," she said.

Lisa Weisberg, a senior vice president at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York, said she doesn't believe the law applies to Spartacus. "If the person (owner) is just passing through the city for whatever reason, the spay-neutering requirement does not apply," she said.

Privately, several city officials said granting an exception in what has become known as "The Spartacus Dog-Neutering Case," could open a Pandora's box of litigation.

Meanwhile, back in New Jersey for the first time in four weeks, Spartacus frolicked on the grass in front of his owner's Bergenfield construction company yesterday. The dog was released about 2 p.m., after Georgoutsos posted $10,000 in cash, noting that he could find no bondsman interested in bailing out a dog.

"The dog jumped up in my arms," Georgoutsos said of his pet's release from the New York Animal Care and Control shelter, where he said he visited him daily. "He was ready to play. It was adorable."

But Georgoutsos, 42, a former Montclair State University wrestler and wrestling coach, said it may be months before he can relax.

"You go to court and spend thousands of dollars," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen."
 
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