A hearing regarding ownership of the Pomeranian dogs seized from a Brooklyn man in October will be held in Greene Town Court on Thursday.
Steven Fong, 56, had been arraigned in Oxford Town Court on charges of animal cruelty, false impersonation and 76 counts of failure to provide for an impounded animal.
The charges came after deputies seized 76 Pomeranians at his property in October. There were also 38 dead Pomeranians found.
The latest case will be heard in Greene Town Court by Justice Dante Acunto, said Assistant District Attorney Stephen Dunshee, who had been representing the county on the issue.
Oxford Town Justice John Weidman was replaced by court officials last month, Dunshee said, after Weidman asked to be recused so all parties would be assured of a fair proceeding.
Fong's attorney, Scott Clippinger, had complained about Oxford court proceedings before state Supreme Court Judge Kevin Dowd in November. With the change of venue, the case will be handled by Assistant District Attorney Robert Larkin, who refused to comment Monday.
The dogs were taken to the Chenango County SPCA, which is represented by Michael Ferrarese of Lee, Emerson and Ferrarese. It housed the dogs and provided medical care. It took possession in November after Supreme County Judge Kevin Dowd vacated a stay on a decision issued by Weidman that gave ownership to the SPCA.
Fong's attorney, Scott Clippinger, said on Monday that Acunto issued a stay Dec. 23 preventing the SPCA from any further adoptions. But District Attorney Joseph McBride said, "My position is the SPCA has lawful custody of the dogs pursuant to Judge Weidman's order," and it can handle them as it sees fit "at this time."
Ferrarese said that Weidman's ruling on the case is the law in the civil matter designed to give relief to SPCA. When Fong did not pay the estimated one-month cost of $65,465 to the shelter for the dogs, Weidman's ruling allowed the SPCA to try and find homes for the dogs instead of continuing to pay for their care, he said.
Any further orders in the civil action are "moot" because Acunto does not have jurisdiction, Ferrarese said.
Greene Town Court is only open on Thursday, and Acunto could not be reached for comment at his home Monday.
Chenango County SPCA Executive Director Carol Hedlund said that 30 of the dogs have found homes, and with the spaying and neutering process continuing, the others could find homes by the end of the month.
Anyone interested in adopting a dog may call the Chenango County SPCA at 334-9724.