The judge issued a ruling on a motion Friday in the case involving 76 Pomeranians seized from a Brooklyn man.
Greene Justice Dante Acunto decided late Friday afternoon that dogs seized from Stephen Fong at his Oxford property on Oct. 12 be held as evidence as long as needed. The seizure was made because of allegedly unsafe living conditions.
There was a dispute on Friday night about the impact this would have on efforts by the Chenango County SPCA to have the remaining dogs adopted.
The motion was one presented by defense attorney Scott Clippinger before Acunto at Thursday's hearing in the criminal case. Acunto had not ruled on a motion by Clippinger to dismiss the charges.
Deputies seized the dogs and removed 38 dead Pomeranians from Fong's property, and he was charged with failure to provide for an impounded animal, animal cruelty and false impersonation.
The dogs were taken to the Chenango County SPCA, where they were given medical attention. The judge in the case at the time, John Weidman of Oxford Town Court, ordered Fong to pay the shelter $65,465 to cover costs for one month of care. When Fong failed to do so, Weidman ordered the dogs turned over to the SPCA for adoption.
The decision was appealed to Supreme Court Judge Kevin Dowd, who declined to overturn Weidman's decision in November. Weidman then recused himself from the case, and it was assigned to Acunto in late December.
Before his decision Friday, Acunto said by phone that it would be improper for him to comment on any aspect of the case.
Clippinger said that "the state has a responsibility for maintaining the property," when asked what it means for the dogs. If Fong is acquitted, he would expect his property returned and the shelter could be liable, he said.
The CCSPCA attorney, Michael Ferrarese, did not return a call for comment, but he earlier said that he would not be attending the session because he was handling only the civil suit, which was ended by Weidman's decision. Chenango County SPCA Executive Director Carol Hedlund also did not return a call for comment Friday. On Jan. 5, she said that 30 dogs had been adopted, and spaying and neutering of the remaining animals was proceeding.
Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride said, "I respectfully disagree with the court's reasoning and conclusions. It is highly unusual to overturn a matter heard by another town judge and examined by Supreme Court Judge Kevin Dowd."
That decision made the dogs the property of the SPCA, and McBride said that he did not have authority to tell it what to do.
"The important thing is that the dogs are safe and being cared for," he said, "and the issues will be worked out."