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Two black Labrador retrievers are still being cared for by the SPCA after Cheektowaga police took them from their owner earlier this week and charged the 65-year-old man with cruelty to animals.

The owner of the dogs, meanwhile, is angry police took his pets and that he cannot get them back until a judge decides the outcome of the case. He denied police claims that the dogs are malnourished.

"I treat them better than some children. I want my dogs back," said Paul R. Henke, a retiree of the Ford plant in Woodlawn. "They said we have to go through this legal proceeding. I think it's a dirty rotten shame."

Henke went to Walden Galleria Monday night and left his two dogs, Scout and Lady, inside his pickup.

A passer-by contacted Galleria security about the two dogs locked in the vehicle. Galleria security then called Cheektowaga police.

Two police officers arrived at the scene and noticed one dog was in the front seat with the driver's window open about an inch, while the other was in a confined space in the back of the pickup, police said.

Police said the officers decided the dogs looked malnourished and scared. The officers got into Henke's car to let the dogs out, while Galleria security tracked down Henke in the mall.

"In my opinion after reviewing the report and talking to the gentleman involved, the action the police officers took was more than appropriate," said Cheektowaga's assistant chief, John F. Schaller.

Henke, who claims his rights have been violated and is threatening to get an attorney, was charged with cruelty to animals and released on $50 bail.

The dogs are being cared for by the SPCA until the outcome of a Henke's court appearance Sept. 8 in Cheektowaga Town Court.

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