Meet Pete Georgoutsos and his dog Spartacus.
Imagine going to visit some friends in another state. And your car gets broken into, and your 5 year old dog escapes from the car. You are relieved to find your dog finally and it is located at "Animal Care" (misleading term for "Animal Control") in that city. When you go to retrieve your dog you find out that it has been shot by many tranquilizer darts and that the "Animal Care" people will not release the dog back to you even though you have been a victim of crime in their fair municipality. The reason for this is that your dog has testicles and no dog leaving "Animal Care" is allowed to leave without being sexually mutilated.
Okay, now you end up having to get a lawyer and fight the City to get your dog back. You end up spending thousands of dollars because the "Animal Care" group threatens that if you don't neuter your dog, they will take your
dog, put him up for adoption, or euthanize him.
Welcome to the world of Mandatory Spay and Neuter where logic and interpretation of law has more loops and swirls than young Miss Shirley Temple's hair.
Advocates of Mandatory Spay/Neuter may/might (who knows?!) have never intended for something like this to happen but do realize that once a law has gone into place ("because something has to be done
") one may have inadvertently given powers to control and exercise intolerance however they may.
"I love him. I'll do anything for him. He's my constant companion . . . Even my mailman loves him," Peter Georgoutsos, 46, said of 5-year-old Spartacus.
In the dog-eat-dog battle, Georgoutsos is suing city for $30,000.
Here are two news clips from different dates, each with different details.
DOG JUDGE: 'FIX' IS OUT
By ALEX GINSBERG
June 16, 2007 -- A Brooklyn judge ordered a city animal shelter yesterday to release a runaway mastiff it's been holding since last month because the facility demanded that the owner agree to the pooch's sterilization first.
"What he was brought in with, he leaves the center with," the judge, Arthur Schack, added as he announced his decision in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Owner Pete Georgoutsos - who lost his mastiff, Spartacus, May 28 when his truck was broken into on a Queens street - praised the decision.
"I am grateful that the judge listened to the facts and made his own decision," he said. "The evidence spoke for itself."
A lawyer for the city, Paula Van Meter, said she would appeal the order and the dog would be held.
The judge found that the City Council had clearly not intended the law to apply to cases like this one. And he ripped the shelter's tough line.
"We'll hold him hostage and then we'll kill him," said Schack. "That's what it sounds like."
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
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 [New Jersey], 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.
A PANDORA'S BOX
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."
I noted that at least "one article had called this dog a Cane Corso
Hat tip to http://bluedogstate.blogspot.com/UPDATE: July 8, 2007
Found this update
, with not much more detail but includes a better photo.
Does look like a Cane Corso
. Ears were not cropped
. Other articles just called the dog a 'mastiff' so I'd been wondering.George says, "I believe that he comes to the world one way, he leaves the same way,".
Being that the dog doesn't have the ear crop, which some owners will opt to have done after they get these dogs when the breeder doesn't do it, this adds another element of interest regarding his passion for his dog and greater weight to his words.