GREENE – The Brooklyn man from whom 76 dogs were seized in October said he felt like he’d been “living with a sword over his head” because of the pressure of keeping the dogs hidden, according to his arresting officer.
Sgt. Timothy Urnaitis of the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office testified Thursday that Steven W. Fong had made this and other “spontaneous declarations” after his Oct. 13 arrest on charges of animal cruelty and failing to provide for the dogs.
These admissions, which included statements that the dogs were his family and that he had believed he needed to hide them, were not prompted by questioning, said the sergeant.
Urnaitis’ testimony was part of a probable cause hearing in the Town of Greene court, called by Judge Dante Acunto as a result of an omnibus motion filed by defense counsel Scott Clippinger.
“There is ... an issue of probable cause in the affidavit to support the search warrant,” reported Clippinger at the start of the proceedings.
District Attorney Joseph McBride, who objected to the need for the hearing, agreed to go along with it “as a matter of convenience” for the court and to move the case forward.
McBride’s first witness was Debra Ives, the Chenango County Sheriff’s deputy who handled the initial investigation.