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Puppies Seized After Fatal Dog Attack Going To Texas

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LAPEER (WWJ/AP) - Eight puppies removed from the home of two dogs that fatally mauled a Michigan jogger will be sterilized and taken to a Texas shelter.

The cane corso puppies are going to Austin-based Cane Corso Rescue Inc. Elizabeth Sawyers-Robles, a director of Cane Corso Rescue, said the puppies seem to have a good temperament. She’ll be overseeing them.

The puppies have been in the custody of the Lapeer Animal Control Shelter since shortly after 46-year-old Craig Sytsma was fatally mauled by two dogs while jogging in Metamora Township. The two cane corsos involved in the July 23 attack have already been euthanized, along with another adult dog from the home.

“It’s so not our breed,” Sawyers-Robles said of the dogs’ aggressive behavior. “They were in bad hands.”

The puppies will first go to foster families, to make sure they’re property socialized and trained. From there, they will be available for adoption.

“We have amazing, experienced homes along the East Coast,” Sawyers-Robles told the Flint Journal. “There’s a possibility that those people will come down here and meet them and make a match.”

Forty-four-year-old Valbona Lucaj and her 45-year-old husband Sebastiano Quagliata are charged with second-degree murder in connection with the attack. A hearing to determine if the case goes to trial is set for Friday.

Authorities said the attack on Sytsma was the third by Quagliata and Lucaj’s dogs in the past two years. The couple was apparently breeding dogs at their property, officials said.

Detroit-area attorney Glenn Saltsman said he has two clients who were bitten by dogs while walking near the couple’s property.

One man “said he thought the dogs were going to kill him,” Saltsman said. “The adult dog bit him in the leg.”

The other, April Smith, was attacked in May 2012 as she and her sister walked their dog.

“The same corso charged from the house and just nailed her from behind,” Saltsman said. “Bit her pretty good in the calf.”

Police investigated both incidents and turned the cases over to animal control officials. The owners were ticketed, but the dogs never were removed, according to Saltsman.

Smith sued Quagliata and Lucaj and reached a $20,000 settlement that has not yet been paid, Saltsman said. A suit has not yet been filed in last November’s attack.

Federal authorities say Quagliata and Lucaj are living in the U.S. illegally and were facing imminent deportation at the time of the attack. Lucaj is a native of Albania and Quagliata is from Italy. Both have been in the U.S. since the late 1990s, officials said. They both face life in prison if convicted.

According to the American Kennel Club, a Cane Corso is a muscular and large-boned dog breed in the working group. A native of Italy, the Cane Corso was historically kept as a property watchdog that hunted wild boar. Today, Cane Corsos are known to be affectionate to their owner and bond closely with children and family, the AKC says. The large and athletic breed needs a lot of exercise, but can be easily trained.

A Cane Corso dog (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Claudio Domiziani)

A Cane Corso dog (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Claudio Domiziani)

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TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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