EXCLUSIVE: Hot diggety! Judgment goes to the dog in attempted ‘Bassassination’ suit

Who could possibly want to murder this adorable basset hound?
Steve Solomonson

This dog had his day — in court!

A Gerritsen Beach man who allegedly tricked his neighbor’s Basset hound Snoopy into swallowing a sharpened bone in an attempt to kill the pooch now has to cough up money for vet bills and court fees, a judge ordered on Nov. 16. The ornery neighbor tried every trick in the book to fool the court, but the judge found his dog-and-pony show hard to swallow, the pet owner said.

“All they did was lie, and lie, and lie,” said Snoopy’s owner, Frank Battaglia. “The judge picked up on it. They were making up all kinds of things, saying lies, but we beat them so bad it wasn’t funny.”

Civil court judge Richard Montelione awarded Battaglia $338 in damages for veterinarian bills and court fees after Battaglia provided a video showing his Canton Court neighbor kicking the treacherous treat under a fence that separated the feuding neighbors’ properties. He also provided a vet’s testimony attesting to the bone’s sinister design, Battaglia said.

“The vet said it was made intentionally to kill him,” he said.

Battaglia recovered the bone in Snoopy’s throat after the dog began choking and panicked, Battaglia said.

“Snoopy takes the bone, starts biting on it like a dog would do, then he starts choking,” he said. “He’s trying to run, but he was tripping over — he was dying.”

Neighbor Donald Borbell claimed that he was kicking a busted lawn mower in the damning surveillance footage — not shoving an improvised choking device under the fence.

The Battaglia and Borbell famlies have been fighting like cats and dogs for years over an unpaid debt that Battaglia says Borbell’s daughter owes him. The pair duked it out on television’s “People’s Court” more than three years ago, but the judge ruled against Battaglia in the debt dispute.

Since than, Snoopy has been literally caught in the cross fire of the Hatfield-and-McCoy-style feud — Borbell allegedly whipped rocks at the hound, according to Battaglia. Borbell claimed he mistook the 65-pound hound for a squirrel, but Battaglia called the notion ridiculous.

“I told the judge, how can you mistake a squirrel for an adorable Basset hound,” Battaglia said.

Borbell paid the $338 in damages and looks forward to putting the matter behind him — the litigation has exasperated his dementia, his wife said.

“My husband is a sick man — he has dementia, and the more this is prolonged, the more he has to visit the doctor,” she said. “This is getting to be a little bit ridiculous.”

Borbell is not a pooch poacher — in fact the family loves dogs, his wife said.

“My husband is not a killer,” Mary said. “We have dogs of our own. That’s about all I can say. My husband is not a murderer.”

Instead, Battaglia is a serial litigant whose house is lined with a dozen surveillance cameras that impose upon her privacy, Borbell’s wife said.

She then threatened to sue this newspaper for exasperating her husband’s medical condition.

“If I have to get a doctors note again, now I’m going to put have to put a summons out to your newspaper,” Mary said.

Meantime, Snoopy is healthy and hasn’t let the run-in with Borbell sour his affection for humans, Battaglia said.

“He is so friendly,” he said. “When he sees a person a half-block away, his tail starts wagging.”

Battaglia said he plans to donate the award to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“What the evil hand dished out to Snoopy, now his check will help other animals,” he said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
The evidence: Frank Battaglia holds the jagged bone his neighbor shoved under his fence in an attempt to kill the precious pup.
Steve Solomonson