Man accused of stealing dog from shelter

September 12, 2008 3:38:13 PM PDT
There is a bizarre twist following a dog attack in New Jersey.A man is under arrest, accused of stealing the dog from an animal shelter, thinking he was helping the dog's owners.

Police have identified the suspect as 39-year-old Richard DelFino, of Woodridge, who apparently thought he was doing the family a favor. They found out and called police.

"Around 5 o'clock this morning, somebody broke into the quarantine area of the county animal shelter...and took the pit bull," Bergen County executive Dennis McNerney said.

The dog is back behind behind bars at the Bergen County Animal Shelter in Teterboro. The dog was locked away Thursday night after it and a boxer, owned by the same family, attacked an 82-year-old woman as she walked her Shih Tzu along Harrison Street in Hasbrouck Heights.

She tried to protect her small dog, and an 11-year-old neighbor tried to help her.

"I just heard, 'Help, help,' so I just ran to where it was," neighbor Jason Cheung said.

Witnesses say even the dogs' owner had a hard time getting the animals off the woman and her dog.

The dogs were taken to the shelter immediately, but the sheriff's office says early Friday morning, DelFino broke into the shelter and stole the dog.

"The break-in, we understand, at sometime around 5 this morning, he was able to somehow scale the fence, come in through maybe, we're investigating, a window or something or a door, going to the back. into where the dog was quarantined," McNerney said.

The owners found out and alerted police. No one answer the door at the family's home.

DelFino is facing charges for the break-in. Police have not yet decided if they will charge the owners in the attack. As for the victim, she is still in the hospital and is listed in serious condition.

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STORY BY: New Jersey reporter Toni Yates

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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