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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 4, 2008

Police shoot dog suspected of killing cat

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT — A dog described by Altamont’s public safety commissioner as “dangerously aggressive” was killed Tuesday, by a police officer’s single shot. A second dangerous dog is still at large, said Commissioner Anthony Salerno.

The week before, a pair of pit bulls attacked two cats belonging to different families who live on Altamont Boulevard, said Salerno. One of the cats was killed in the attack.

Salerno has pictures of the maimed animals.  The intestines of the dead cat are spilling out of its ripped-open abdomen.

“Someone on Altamont Boulevard gave us a description,” said Salerno. The two dogs were each brown and muscular and wore black collars, he said.

Later that same day, Tuesday, Aug. 26, a woman with her children walking their own dog stopped to pat the two pit bulls on Leesome Lane, said Salerno. “She felt there was no threat,” he said.

After that, said Salerno on Tuesday night, “There was no sighting of the dogs until today. That’s what’s suspicious.”

He listed the reasons he called the case suspicious: The dogs aren’t local; no one has reported them missing; there were no sightings of the dogs for a week; and now, “all of a sudden, one of them is back” and without a collar.

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 2, a jogger on Route 146 by Arlington and Brandle roads reported that “a dog came up to him aggressively,” said Salerno. “He got away and called 911.”

Following the call, Salerno and Rich Savage, Guilderland’s animal control director, “secured the area,” said Salerno, ringing it with four police cars.

“We went into the wooded area,” he said but, in the heavy brush, the dog could not be seen. “We waited, thinking he would come out,” said Salerno. The lure of food didn’t work.

The crew waited for over two-and-a-half hours.

“Around 12:30, myself and my officers tried to quarantine him,” said Salerno. They had a wooden-handled device with a looped rope at the end to put around the dog’s neck.

“He lunged at me...He came in an attack mode...with his ears back, his tail up, his fur up,” said Salerno. The dog, he said, was three to four feet from him, straight ahead, and an armed officer was three feet to his side.

“I gave the order to shoot,” said Salerno. The officer killed the dog with one shot and no harm to Salerno. “I spent a lot on training; that’s the key,” he said of the officer’s accurate shooting under pressure.

He declined to name the officer, saying, “It’s not about getting credit; we’re doing our job.”

Salerno said of the dead dog, “I felt bad we couldn’t control him....It’s very upsetting to all of us.”

The dead dog was a female, brown with white markings on her chest. She wore no collar. “We believe it’s the same dog,” Salerno said, as one of the pair of pit bulls who attacked the cats. The other dog, also brown, is a male, said Salerno, and hasn’t been seen since Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Salerno said he knows a dangerous dog when he sees one and bares his right arm to prove it. It is scarred with dog bites. Salerno has spent years training police dogs, he said.

A dog’s temperament, he said, is a product of its environment. “If he has a good home; he’ll have good behavior,” he said.

Salerno also warned, “Don’t approach animals unless you know who they are.”

He urged, “If anyone has any information or sees anything suspicious, they should give us a call.”

Salerno concluded, “God forbid the dog went after the jogger. He’s a threat to public safety...If that dog attacked you while you were walking, you’d want something done about it.”

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