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Bishop and Storm were sentenced to death by a Suffolk County District Court Judge for attacking, and seriously injuring, Sophie.

How is such a draconian result possible, you ask?

Well, Bishop and Storm were "repeat offenders" and since Sophie had been their third victim, the District Court Judge declared the miscreant pair to be "dangerous" and ordered them "humanely destroyed."

New York courts are empowered by state law to direct that "dangerous dogs" be euthanized when "aggravating circumstances" warrant that penalty's imposition. These circumstances include:

  • an unjustified attack which causes serious physical injury or death to a human being;
  • a prior unjustified attack which causes physical injury or death to a human being; or
  • a prior unjustified attack which caused serious physical injury or death to a "companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal" which resulted in a "dangerous dog" finding.*

On appeal, the Appellate Term, 9th and 10th Judicial Districts, found none of these "aggravating circumstances" present when the District Court directed the animals' destruction. As a result, the appellate court spared Bishop and Storm an untimely demise, but promulgated an extensive series of requirements as a condition for allowing their continued existence. We thought they were interesting, so here they are:

1) that said dogs shall be neutered and microchipped, and proof of neutering and microchipping filed with the court below, within 30 days of the service of the order entered hereon with notice of entry; 2) that said dogs, when in public, shall be muzzled as provided by Agriculture and Markets Law § 121 (2) (d) and restrained by a person not less than 21 years of age; 3) that when not so restrained, said dogs shall be confined within the owner's house or in a locked pen constructed of cyclone fencing or substantially similar metal-based material, the sides of which are to be so affixed to posts and to a concrete footing and/or pad that the dogs cannot push through, climb over or dig out of such pen, which is to be no less than six feet in height and provided with appropriate shelter from the elements in accordance with Agriculture and Markets Law § 353-b, plans for said pen and shelter to be submitted to the court below for review to determine compliance herewith within 90 days of service of the order entered hereon with notice of entry, and construction to be completed within a reasonable period to be determined by the court below; and 4) that defendant shall maintain a liability insurance policy in an amount of no less than $75,000 for personal injury or death resulting from attack by either or both of said dogs, proof of said coverage to be filed with the court below within 60 days of service of the order entered hereon with notice of entry, and yearly thereafter so long as either or both said dogs shall be housed within the jurisdiction of the court below ....

The result seems rather dogged, wouldn't you agree?

To download a copy of the Appellate Term's decision, please use this link: Cuozzo v. Loccisano


*Agriculture and Markets Law section 121(3) provides as follows:

Upon a finding that a dog is dangerous, the judge or justice may order humane euthanasia or permanent confinement of the dog if one of the following aggravating circumstances is established at the judicial hearing held pursuant to subdivision two of this section:

(a) the dog, without justification, attacked a person causing serious physical injury or death; or

(b) the dog has a known vicious propensity as evidenced by a previous unjustified attack on a person, which caused serious physical injury or death; or

(c) the dog, without justification, caused serious physical injury or death to a companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal, and has, in the past two years, caused unjustified physical injury or death to a companion or farm animal as evidenced by a "dangerous dog" finding pursuant to the provisions of this section. An order of humane euthanasia shall not be carried out until expiration of the thirty day period provided for in subdivision five of this section for filing a notice of appeal, unless the owner of the dog has indicated to the judge in writing, his or her intention to waive his or her right to appeal. Upon filing of a notice of appeal, the order shall be automatically stayed pending the outcome of the appeal.