Dogs euthanized by town, family files lawsuit

Kristin Thorne reporting in Uniondale
March 25, 2014 8:31:33 PM PDT
Two pit bulls turned over to police in Nassau County end up getting euthanized.

The owners are furious and heartbroken and have now filed a lawsuit against the local animal shelter in Uniondale.

"We all loved the dogs. The dogs were playful. They were friendly with everyone," said Marbin Funez, a Uniondale resident.

They certainly don't look vicious.

Which is why the Funez family has a tough time understanding why less than 24 hours after they turned over 5-year-old Cici and 1-year-old Yankee to The Town of Hempstead Animal Control, the dogs were euthanized.

"It wasn't right to do that at all," said Joceline Blanco, a Uniondale resident.

Police had received a call that the dogs, who had gotten lose from the house, were chasing a group of kids around the neighborhood.

The family says officers arrived with their guns drawn.

It's unclear if the dogs attacked officers, but at some point they started firing and grazed Yankee in the leg.

The family says the dogs ran into the house and came down into the basement and sort of hid in this corner. The police came into the house to get the dogs.

"Unless they have a warrant or seizure papers they can't just remove your animals, they just can't," said Det. Bob Sowers, of the Nassau County SPCA.

Animal control told owner Narciso Funez to sign a form releasing the dogs to them.

The form was in English which Funez can't read.

"They just said sign here. I signed, but they didn't tell me what I was signing for," said Narciso Funez, the dogs' owner.

But the form said the Town of Hempstead Shelter could decide whether to euthanize the dogs.

A spokesman for the town would only tell Eyewitness News, "We are confident that the police don't throw their weapons and shoot at animals unless they present a danger to the public."

"We're looking for the answers to really two questions. Why were the dogs taken? And why did they have to kill the dogs so quickly?" said Alfred Constants, the family's attorney.

The Funez family is hoping their $1 million suit against the town will get the attention of officials.

The family is also calling upon the town to translate the animal seizure form into Spanish and to better train the town's animal control officers.