Officers round up dogs neighbors feared

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Early Tuesday afternoon, Animal Care & Control workers, community affairs officers from the 50th Precinct and members of the city’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, arrived at a north Riverdale home to remove several dogs that allegedly terrorized residents near 261st Street and Riverdale Avenue for over three years.

Dog owner Philomena McNamara, who lives at 6045 Riverdale Ave., was seen standing near a fence leading to her backyard on Sept. 16 minutes before noon as two Animal Care & Control vans waited for her to hand over Siberian huskies and German shepherds that neighbors described as “dangerous” and “vicious.” Animal Care & Control was responding to an order by the city’s health department that afternoon, police said.  

The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement, “five dogs were removed from the property because they have been involved in six attacks since late 2009. After numerous attempts to have the owner comply with Health Department orders, we took this unusual step to prevent future attacks. The dogs have been moved to Animal Care & Control of NYC and are being evaluated by trained behaviorists.”

One of the dogs that Ms. McNamara handed over was seen wearing a muzzle around its mouth. Upon handing the dog over, she was overheard telling an Animal Care & Control worker, “He’s very, very sweet, but very insecure.” She stared at the worker and warned, “The muzzle must stay on all the time. He doesn’t know you.”

In 2011, a case was brought against Ms. McNamara after neighbors made several complaints. They claimed they had been bitten, attacked and chased by the dogs, who would frequently jump the fence to roam in their backyards and on the sidewalk. After a hearing by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), John B. Spooner, an administrative law judge, ordered Ms. McNamara to surrender six to eight dogs who had bitten victims for evaluation, confinement or permanent removal from New York City, according to the OATH document.  

Residents said that the ruling was not adequately enforced. 

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