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Lowville judge orders two dogs euthanized

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LOWVILLE — Two village dogs were handed a death sentence Thursday night after getting loose on two occasions in the past month and allegedly biting five people, including a police officer.

Following more than an hour’s worth of testimony, Village Justice Patricia H. Yarina declared Philimon, a black shepherd mix owned by Nathan D. Hotchkiss, and Titus, a white pit bull mix owned by Mr. Hotchkiss’s sister, Amanda S. Hotchkiss, dangerous dogs and ordered them both euthanized.

“That’s not easy for me,” Judge Yarina said. “I’m a pet lover.”

The judge said she was ordering the dogs destroyed because they caused serious physical injuries to several village residents.

Mr. Hotchkiss admitted that since he was briefly incarcerated this spring, his dog had been acting irresponsibly and aggressively. He said it probably deserved to be euthanized.

However, he and his sister pleaded with the judge to spare Titus, arguing that the dog had allegedly bitten only one person from behind — which nobody actually saw — while Philimon was involved in all five incidents. They claimed that Philimon was able to open the door to their South State Street apartment building and that Titus was following the lead of the more aggressive dog. They also said that Titus, while not a trained therapy dog, performed that service with Ms. Hotchkiss’s young son and that the child had not slept well without the pet.

Village attorney Mark G. Gebo, who prosecuted the case, asked that both dogs be euthanized, stating that his obligation was to the community and that he wasn’t convinced Mr. and Ms. Hotchkiss were responsible pet owners.

Mr. Hotchkiss requested a trial period to see how Titus would fare without Philimon.

Mr. and Ms. Hotchkiss ultimately waived their right to appeal the ruling, although relatives encouraged Ms. Hotchkiss to consider an appeal.

Two women were bitten by the dogs on the evening of May 9, according to police.

Then, on Tuesday morning, they ran free through the village again, and Philimon this time bit three people, including Lowville Police Officer Jonthan M. Smith, police said.

In both cases, the loose dogs were retrieved at the Lewis County Fairgrounds off Bostwick Street.

While family members took the animals following their May 9 escape, town of Lowville Dog Control Officer Heath L. Ash, with help from police, confiscated them on Tuesday and took them to Countryside Veterinary Clinic, where they remain.

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