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JUDGE ORDERS PIT BULLS PUT TO DEATH

The two pit bulls that mauled a Buffalo teenager in a city park and badly injured a teacher who rushed to her aid are "dangerous dogs" and must be put to death, City Judge David M. Manz ruled Wednesday.

But Manz agreed to stay his order until noon Friday to allow time for an appeal.

Thomas J. Eoannou, attorney for the dogs and their owner, Susan Kostrzewa, said he would try to get a stay today from one of the five Erie County Court judges who will consider an appeal of the animal death penalty provisions of the state Agriculture and Markets Law.

After seven hours of testimony and legal arguments Wednesday, Manz declared both dogs, 6 1/2 -year-old Jordan and 14-month-old Cosmo, "dangerous." Under the terms of the state law, they can be put to death to protect public safety.

Manz ruled "a fair preponderance of the evidence" presented by Assistant Corporation Counsel Lenora B. Foote and Assistant District Attorney Frank T. Housh established that the dogs had attacked Kenyata Owens, 15, and her rescuer, George Snider, 34, without provocation last July 15 in Houghton Park.

Kostrzewa, 52, declined to comment but cried as she left Manz's courtroom with friends. She faces sentencing July 8 by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma on her April 1 guilty plea to reduced felony charges of attempted second-degree assault.

Under the plea arrangement her lawyers worked out with the Erie County district attorney's office, Forma agreed to spare her a jail term but will order her to pay the city more than $5,000 for the cost of housing the dogs in the City Animal Shelter on Oak Street since the attack.

LeRoi C. Johnson, Kenyata's attorney, confirmed that he already had launched a State Supreme Court negligence suit against Kostrzewa, who lives on Kelburn Street directly off Houghton Park.

Neither Kenyata nor Snider, a Sanborn resident also suing the dog owner, attended the civil proceeding before Manz. Johnson said Kenyata has been left with permanent injuries and some scarring.

Peter L. Borchelt of Brooklyn, an animal behavior expert who videotaped the dogs in the shelter, told Manz that he found the dogs exhibited dangerous predatory behavior that merited death for both of them.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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