Georgoutsos and SpartacusI’ve been following this story for a while and from the beginning it has bothered me. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in spaying and neutering for dogs but I don’t necessarily believe that the state should be able to mandate it in certain cases and in this case there are just too many things wrong with NY pushing the issue.

Here’s the story, let me know what you think.

Peter Georgoutsos was visiting friends in Queens on Memorial Day when someone broke into his car during the night. Spartacus got away, and he was found later that day at an animal shelter in Brooklyn.

But officials would not release Spartacus because, under New York City law, the 5½-year-old Cane Corso had to be sterilized before being returned to his owner’s custody.

Georgoutsos said he refused for several reasons:

  • Spartacus, already suffering from an ear infection, was shot five times with a tranquilizer gun during the capture, and an operation could be life-threatening.
  • Spartacus is a purebred and may be used for breeding.
  • Neutering is against Georgoutsos’ philosophy.

“I believe that he comes to the world one way, he leaves the same way,” said the Bergenfield native.

Health concerns could exempt some animals from the sterilization law, but city officials said Spartacus did not qualify. Georgoutsos was told that unless he agreed to sterilize Spartacus, the city would either euthanize the dog or take away Georgoutsos’ ownership rights, or neuter the dog and then put him up for adoption.

The case escalated to a court hearing, and Brooklyn Judge Arthur M. Schack ruled that Spartacus should be released to his owner “with all his natural-born anatomy intact.”

But it wasn’t over: The New York City Department of Health immediately appealed the case, putting Spartacus back in state custody.

Georgoutsos and his lawyer negotiated with the city and put up a $10,000 cash bond to get Spartacus back last week.

“I meet the provisions; why won’t you let my dog go?” he said. “Why are you so hellbent on neutering my dog? None of this makes any sense.”

The appeal is expected to be heard in court this fall.

In a statement, Paula Van Meter, senior counsel for the city, said the ruling was “wrong and inconsistent with important public policy considerations.”

The law must be enforced even though Spartacus and Georgoutsos live in New Jersey because the dog was picked up while wandering in the city, said New York City Law Department officials.

Georgoutsos’ attorney, Gabriel Tapalaga, disagreed.

“The point of the law is geared toward unwanted animals — to protect the city against strays running amok,” he said. “That’s not the case here … Nobody should be deprived of their animal or their property in the manner that was attempted in this case.”

Georgoutsos, 42, has had Spartacus since the dog was a few weeks old. They live together on a farm in Asbury in Warren County. Spartacus functions as a guard dog, protecting the farm livestock from coyotes and bears, as well as woodchucks, Georgoutsos said.

Georgoutsos is the owner of Van-Go General Contracting on South Washington Avenue in Bergenfield.

While Spartacus was locked up, Georgoutsos had to get a court order to see him. He visited every day, fighting traffic six to eight hours to get to and from Brooklyn. When they finally were reunited, “He was as ecstatic to see me as I was to see him,” Georgoutsos said.

Georgoutsos said he hopes the city will decide to drop the case before the fall. He said he still does not understand why New York is so resolute on gelding Spartacus, but he wants this to be a cautionary tale for other New Jersey dog owners.

“They might be traveling with their beloved pets in their vehicle as well, and they don’t know what could happen to [the pets] once they become loose in New York,” he said.

Currently, there is no such law in New Jersey. While neutering is encouraged, neither the state nor individual municipalities can demand sterilization as a condition of release from impoundment, said state Health Department spokeswoman Linda Nasta.

However, all that may change under a bill now being considered by the state Senate. The bill, which received its second reading in May, aims to establish a law similar to that in New York, where all dogs and cats released from pounds and shelters have to be sterilized. There would be exceptions for dogs belonging to professional breeders and those with serious health risks.

“As long as the law is open to interpretation, everyone should be fine,” Georgoutsos said. “But you can’t be so ruthless as to put everyone on the chopping block.” (

Now when a judge and the city’s senior council both say that the dog should have been released to Georgoutsos ‘intact’ that should have been the end of it, correct? But no, the New York City Department of Health just won’t let it go.

This dog is not a stray and never really was. The dog’s owner is not a resident of NY. Spartacus is a ‘working dog’ and may as well be used for legitimate breeding purposes as well as the fact that the dog may have health considerations.

Why does the New York City Department of Health feel the need to take this to the extreme when I have no doubt there are many more pressing concerns that need to be dealt with? Is this case so important to prove a point that they are willing to waste valuable time a money to persecute someone. This is not a dog that is a danger or even a legitimate stray. I believe in the law and that laws should be followed but there are times when exceptions should be made and to my way of thinking, some changes need to be made to this law!

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think?

Be Sociable, Share!
Email This Post Email This Post

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!